Held together by faith

Religious groups organize assistance to those struggling

St. David’s Episcopal Church Outreach Minister Pat Knox spent many years helping the homeless in Englewood, all the while trying to rally others to the cause. Reinforcements may soon be on the way.

Family Promise is a New Jersey-based nonprofit organization that assists struggling homeless families in transition to achieve lasting independence through the faith-based community, according to Wendy Fitton, network manager of Family Promise Sarasota. There are 182 independent affiliates throughout the country.

Fitton will be speaking at the 6 p.m. Aug. 27 Just Neighbors meeting at St. David’s Episcopal Church at 401 S. Broadway, Englewood. Just Neighbors is a group of churches, organizations and individuals who work together to help low-income and homeless families in the Englewood community.

“We have an opportunity here if I can get people to attend this meeting,” said Knox, a Just Neighbors organizer.

“We hope if we can get enough participation, (Family Promise) can coordinate churches to work on this program.”

Knox said a program like Family Promise requires a lot of coordination among the faith community.

“One church may provide shelter and another may provide food,” she said.

Fitton said those participating in the program need to create a board to delegate responsibilities.

“The churches would house the families on a nightly to a week-to-week basis,” Fitton said.

Fitton said there are 11 participating churches in North Sarasota County.

“We can take up to three families at a time and no more than 14 individuals,” she said. “We typically have up to a family of five with some flexibility. We have church volunteers (on site) from 5:30 p.m. to when families leave in the morning for work and school.”

Fitton said services are geared toward temporary assistance for first-time, struggling, displaced families.

“In North Sarasota County, we had 80 per- cent success rate for people finding new homes,” she said. “We help families stay together whatever their makeup.”

For more information, visit familypromisesarasota.org or call 941-681-3550.

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About Tom

Tom Chang is a freelance journalist with a background in multimedia journalism and web publishing. He is currently pursuing his Masters in Journalism and Media Studies from the University of South Florida St.Petersburg. He graduated in 2004 with a Bachelors Degree in Mass Communications at USF Tampa. Tom's interests include a little bit of everything from entertainment to sports. He also wishes to delve into creative writing writing sci-fi/fantasy stories. Tom was recently the Online Editor for USF St. Petersburg's the Crow's Nest, he joined the staff in January 2010 where he started freelance writing, photographing, copy editing and later became a staff writer. Tom’s freelance experience in journalism amassed a wide range of companies including Creative Loafing, The Focus Magazine, Lutz News, Examiner.com, and Tampa Tribune.
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