By Aileen Goldstein
The building is unassuming from the outside, just a simple white building with a wide front porch. You would never know it is there, hidden in the back of a small office complex near Old Town Bluffton. But for the families it helps, Family Promise of Beaufort County is a safe place.
Family Promise is an all-encompassing resource for families that have found themselves homeless. “We are not a shelter. We are not a temporary fix,” executive director Lynda Halpern points out. Instead, Family Promise is a resource that helps families find permanent housing while participating in a 90 day life skills program. The program provides assistance through classes including finances, parenting and household management. Temporary housing is provided through a network of 35 church congregations throughout Beaufort County.
Halpern said the average family’s stay in temporary housing for about 63 days. Once clients save enough, Family Promise helps the family secure permanent housing and offers assistance in fees associated with renting, such as security deposits and utilities. Throughout the first year, case managers meet with the families and make sure they continue with the skills the program provided. The organization has a high success rate. In fact, 93% of families are still in permanent housing after one year.
“Affordable housing is the biggest challenge. There is a severe lack of affordable housing in Bluffton and Hilton Head Island,” explains Halpern. Aside from housing, the center is always in need of basics, including paper products, cleaning supplies, gas cards and volunteers. Another important need is information technology (I.T.) services.
“Seeing people know what they need to do to succeed is rewarding,” Halpern says. A client and mother of four recently shared with Halpern that she now knows she is strong enough to do this. Halpern finds satisfaction in this empowerment. “Our vision is that every child will have a home,” says Halpern.
Please visit www.familypromisebeaufortcounty.org to learn more.