Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley
by Anna Rogers
Behind the scenes in Billings is an organization working to “help homeless families achieve and sustain independence.” Family Promise of Yellowstone Valley is making a huge impact in the community, and what really makes them unique is their community-involved approach to supporting the families they help.
The beauty (and I believe, the success) of Family Promise is rooted in the way the organization works with churches and volunteers in Billings to provide the services and support needed to transition homeless families into a sustainable, self-sufficient position. FPYV partners with 30 church congregations and over 1,400 volunteers each year.
Referrals are made through numerous partner agencies in the community and families are chosen based on the level of their crisis and personal attitude of change. Emergency shelter is provided through partnership with 30 congregations where families sleep, have positive interactions with volunteers, enjoy healthy meals, and experience hope and love. The FPYV Day Center offers laundry facilities, showers, telephone access, computer access, a physical address, and individualized support from the FPYV staff. Families that enter the program receive intensive one-on-one case management and go through the “Wrap Around and Break the Cycle of Poverty Programming.”
Families are given assistance with education, finances, budgeting, childcare, transportation, nutrition, life skills, resumes, and job search and/or training. Families eventually move into transitional housing, for which they pay a very low rent and can improve their renters’ history while continuing to save money for purchasing their own home. Family Promise also fully furnishes these housing units as each family moves in and out of them.
Jessica Scheer started volunteering at one of the host churches when her children were young by bringing meals to share with the Family Promise families. “It was so moving because I could bring my kids to play with the other kids staying at the church, and I had a chance to really connect with the parents working their way through the program. To hear their stories and what they have been through was really powerful, especially as I was trying to navigate being a new mom myself. My interactions with the clients left such an impression on me. Being a new parent is difficult when you have a stable family and roof over your head, but to be a parent of a newborn or young child and to have to navigate all that comes with homelessness at the same time must just be so scary. I saw what Family Promise meant to these families and how it gave them the opportunity to breathe and move forward in addressing the issue at-hand.”
After volunteering, Jessica became more involved in FPYV and now sits on the Board of Directors and is the Chair for their annual fundraising event, Beach Blizzard. Beach Blizzard is the organization’s largest fundraiser of the year, with this February’s fundraiser being their most successful to date. The organization aims to raise one third of the Family Promise yearly operating budget with the fundraiser. But for FPYV, the fundraiser is more than just a way to raise money. It is an opportunity for people in the Billings community to hear personal stories and become involved in the work the organization is doing.
Family Promise is growing and expanding, touching the lives of more families each year. “In the past year we have added both a full-time Marketing Coordinator and a full-time Development Coordinator. We also have one full-time social worker and would love to add another in the years to come,” Jessica says. “Also, because there is such a need for affordable housing for families in the community, one of our main priorities is housing expansion. We currently have four transitional housing units and we are really interested in expanding this part of our services. Our Board of Directors and community partners are trying to find the best option that most effectively serves the needs of our community.”
Ways to Get Involved
- Volunteer through a church or at the day center!
- April 25th: Volunteer Orientation & Training at the Day Center
- Contact: 406-294-7432 / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Donation drop-off is on Tuesdays from 11am-4pm.