St. Mary's is actively engaged in supporting Family Promise of Sussex County (formerly known as the Interfaith Hospitality Network), as part of our parish mission to be Christ's presence in our community. Approximately three weeks out of the year, St. Mary's throws open its doors to our homeless neighbors, providing shelter, meals, and support to single women who are homeless and families of all shapes and sizes. Volunteers offer encouragement as families in trouble try to survive and stay together.
What is Family Promise?
Family promise Is a non-profit organization created in 1998 in response to the growing number of homeless families in Sussex County, New Jersey. They are a division of Family Promise, who founded the first Interfaith Hospitality Network in Union County, New Jersey in 1986.
Today, Family Promise has over 180 IHN affiliates in 41 states and the District of Columbia. In 2010, Family Promise affiliates served more than 55,000 children and adults and involved more than 150,000 volunteers in 5,500 congregations.
Locally, SCIHN has over 40 participating congregations involving approximately 1,000 dedicated volunteers. SCIHN operates 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, providing homeless families with 10,000 meals and 5,110 shelter beds each year. SCIHN gives families a chance to re-group and start over, helping them to regain independence. In 2012, SCIHN changed its name to Family Promise of Sussex County. New name, same mission!
St. Mary's Episcopal Church of Sparta is a proud and active participant in this program.
Click on the video to learn more:
How Does St. Mary's Help?
Since 1997 St. Mary's has been one of the participating congregations. 3 to 4 times per year, St. Mary's hosts up to 14 homeless people for one week. For one week, from Tuesday to Tuesday, our classrooms are transformed into bedrooms.
The guests arrive at 5 pm and will eat dinner and breakfast at the church. During the week, they are out of the Church from 7am to 5pm. On Saturday, the guests are at the church for the entire day. .
One coordinator (usually Connie Rutsch or Pat Kibildis) are there to open the Church every week and church volunteers come in during the week to feed and sit with our guests.
How Can you Help
Two weeks prior to the hosting week, outreach solicits volunteers. Simply put, the more people who volunteer, the less time many will volunteer at the Church.
Most commitments last less than two hours, with the exception of the overnights. For example, If could prepare a meal for your family and the host family and come to the church and share a meal.
On a Saturday, come for 2 hours and just be there to spend time with our guests.
This is an opportunity to not only GIVE to another another family but remind the GIFTS they have and in turn learn to have Gratitude for God's grace in your life.
For specific needs, you can click on the link and go to our website for more information on what kind of help is needed.
Specific help needed:
One coordinator (usually Connie or Pat) is there to open church every weekday evening at 5pm.
Santa Sacks is an annual Holiday Outreach program of St. Mary's.
During the month of November, Church Members agree to take a sack, and a list from an area resident in need. (The lists typically ask for clothing and hygenic needs.) Read more