After retiring from Paine Webber/UBS in 2003, FBFP Founder Duane McCullough was looking for something to keep him busy. He saw an interesting ad in the paper and responded. "To this day, I have no idea why I was looking in that section of the paper!” McCullough exclaims.
Turns out the ad was for what is now Family Promise. The organization was looking for a person to volunteer as a VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America), sometimes called the Domestic Peace Corps. President John F. Kennedy came up with the idea for VISTA, which has been on the front lines in the fight against poverty in America for nearly 50 years. Many of the best-known anti-poverty programs, including Head Start and Upward Bound, were created by VISTA members. McCullough’s position entailed working in the South Texas area to establish Interfaith Hospitality Network Chapters.
"It was a great concept in my mind -- to organize faith-based groups to help the homeless without large expenditures of public (tax) funds. The name was not changed to Family Promise until a year or so later,” recalls McCullough.
McCullough began calling on congregations from Baytown to Corpus Christi to create interest in the concept. Since he lived in Sugar Land, the Fort Bend area was his home turf. When he completed his VISTA tour, he began to work full time on the Fort Bend program.
"I was blessed to have a very positive response early on from several pastors, including Steve Quill at New Hope Lutheran, Jerry Hurst at Southminster Presbyterian, Tom Pace and Jeff McDonald at Christ United Methodist and others from area congregations. Just as important was the enthusiasm for the program from lay people like Lyn Storm and the Coltharps of First Methodist Missouri City, Jim Uschkrat from New Hope and many others.”
The group began having meetings of interested people from various churches in late 2003 and made visits to Family Promise chapters that were already operating in Conroe and the 1960 area of Houston. The visits created more excitement, and seven congregations were soon willing to host and get the program started.
Fundraising was tough early on because Family Promise was an unknown start up. Critical to being able to begin operations was determining where the program would be housed. New Hope Lutheran Church generously offered space on their campus, and that has been the home of Fort Bend Family Promise since the first day. Lyn Storm volunteered to be the first Managing Director, and this was a real leap of faith! It was because of her dedication, hard work and long hours that we were ever able to get started and succeed.
In order to speed our development, the founders entered into an agreement with East Fort Bend Human Needs Ministry (EFB) to help get launched and to add some instant credibility. This helped, and with their assistance, existing 501 c3 and good wishes (no funds) FBFP launched on Valentine’s Day in 2005.
FBFP spun off from EFB after about a year. With the generous help of our congregations, the George Foundation and other organizations, and with the enthusiastic support of our annual golf tournament and many prayers, FBFP has been able to expand and flourish in a manner the founders could hardly imagine in their humble beginnings. None of this could have been accomplished without the dedication, faith and hard work of the many volunteers that have made all of this possible.
FBFP was helped immensely in getting launched by the donation of a used Windstar Ford Van from the Brown family of New Hope Lutheran Church. The van was in remarkable shape and solved our initial transportation needs.
The founding Hosting Congregations were:
The beginning Support Congregations were:
Since 2005, FBFP has served hundreds of our Fort Bend neighbors, meeting the families’ immediate needs, but also helping them find permanent housing and address the issues that led to their homelessness.