After a decade of helping displaced families get back into homes, Fort Bend Family Promise (FBFP) is moving into a home of its own. The non-profit will celebrate the completion of its new Day Center with a ribbon cutting ceremony on December 10 at 4 p.m.
In addition, the founder of the Family Promise national organization, Karen Olson, will be in Missouri City on Saturday, December 12 to help celebrate this milestone event. FBFP supporters are invited to hear her amazing story at their Celebrating the Promise event from 10 to 11:30 am at Southminster Presbyterian Church, 4200 Cartwright Road. The program will be followed by tours and refreshments at the new Day Center.
The new 4,000-square-foot building at 4645 Cartwright Road in Missouri City replaces the previous Center that was located in donated space at New Hope Lutheran Church. Fort Bend Family Promise is the first of 189 Family Promise affiliates across the country to design and build a Day Center from the ground up.
Founded in 2005, FBFP is the only organization in Fort Bend County that helps meet the immediate needs of homeless families while empowering them to attain self-sufficiency. The organization focuses on keeping families together and is unique in using an interfaith network of 17 area congregations who help feed and house the families.
"Construction of the Day Center was truly a community collaboration,â€ said FBFP Board Member John Tipton. "We couldn't have begun to tackle this project without our donors, volunteers and the help of HomeAid Houston, Arte Architecture, builder Long Lake Ltd. and all the vendors that provided free or discounted materials and labor to help provide a quality building at the lowest cost.â€
The vision for the building was formulated by board members in 2011 and a location search led to the purchase of an acre of land on Cartwright Road. Major donors for the land and building construction include the Baxter Trust, Fluor Foundation, Fort Bend Junior Service League, The George Foundation, Madison Charitable Foundation, Inc. and Wynn & Mary Geiger Foundation. Other funding came from local businesses, community members and proceeds from an annual golf tournament.
In addition, a number of incredibly dedicated partners stepped forward to help with in-kind services. A few of those include Asset Plus Companies which painted the interior of the building, University Furnishings which provided furniture and Mark ZumMallen of BSA Troop 441 who created a Memorial Garden behind the Day Center as his Eagle Project.
Sergio Astorga, Designer and Project Manager, and Emerson Jones Jr., Architect, with Arte Architecture, worked with FBFP to design a warm and welcoming environment for the guest families. The Center offers relaxation and lounging areas for families to gather, as well as lockers, laundry facilities, family-friendly bathrooms and storage space where families can safely store items. The accessible building also includes space for administrative and counseling staff, a meeting area and a computer lab families can use for homework, job searches or other needs.
The families gather in the morning at the Day Center to prepare lunches for their children, get them on their school buses, prepare for work or a day spent looking for employment. Each evening, the families travel to one of the organizationâ€™s host congregations for dinner and an overnight stay.
FBFP Executive Director Vera L. Johnson said, "We are so grateful to our interfaith network, our volunteers and every single person who contributed to the Day Center. Fort Bend Family Promise has made great strides in our first ten years. Weâ€™ve helped a lot of low income families escape the cycle of homelessness, but we are still working hard to generate awareness and support.â€Families now make up around 40% of the homeless population and one out of every four homeless individuals is a child! An astonishing 624 students in Fort Bend ISD alone were identified as homeless in 2013-14, and this number represents only one of the five school districts served by FBFP. There are also many more who are "hidden homeless,â€ --staying temporarily with friends or family or in motels -- and not recognized in that number.