Shelter for Families Experiencing Homelessness
Nakeshia Hedrick, Executive Director
Family Promise of Greater Lafayette (FPGL) is the only shelter in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, providing shelter and support solely for families with minor children who are experiencing homelessness. For the first decade of their existence they operated on a host model, housing families in area churches. FPGL had a small day shelter, but each evening the families were transported to a church. The churches took turns, hosting the families for a week at a time and providing them dinner and a bed.
In 2018, Family Promise teamed up with several local churches and community groups to open a static shelter on the grounds of the Northend Community Center campus in Lafayette. The shelter has space for five families and an apartment for a live-in caretaker. The host churches continued to be involved, but their role changed to providing meals and evening hosts at the shelter three to four times a week.
COVID placed an enormous burden on FPGL. The executive director, Nakeshia Hedrick, had only been in her position for six months when the first lockdown orders came. She reduced the number of families they could accommodate from five to three and paid to put additional families up at a local hotel, but her real issue was staffing. One of her staff members had recently passed away, and in short order one went on administrative leave and another quit. Because she’d also had to shut down most volunteer opportunities, for two months Nakeshia was essentially running the shelter by herself.
Since those dark days, things have gotten much better. Realizing that diversion and stabilization provide more holistic help for housing instability, Nakeshia hired a second case manager. Now one of their case managers focuses on programming for families in the shelter and the other helps stabilize families who’ve already completed the program as well providing preventative assistance to families from all across Greater Lafayette who find themselves on the verge of homelessness. A live-in caretaker and a housekeeper round out the FPGL staff.
FPGL has also found ways to welcome their support churches back into the program and provide them with ongoing volunteer opportunities. In addition to providing three meals a week for the families, volunteers write cards of encouragement that Nakeshia and her staff can give to the families at critical times. They’ve organized online interactive activities between families and volunteers. And volunteers have even been helping to purchase housewarming baskets filled with everything from cooking pots to bath towels and cleaning supplies. When they’re ready to move out, families can “buy” those baskets with credits they’ve accrued from participating in various classes and activities run by their case manager.
Although, FPGL is not run as a faith-based organization, compassion, hospitality, and humility are at the core of the work and services provided. This makes the work of FPGL an excellent example of ministry in action.
To learn more, click here – http://www.fpglinc.org/