Guest article by Angela Bowers
Coffee + donuts = a great start to any day. While this wasn’t exactly their official motto, what is now a local non-profit called Foundation for the Homeless did in fact begin as a coffee and donuts ministry in downtown Austin.
At first, the organization was an ad hoc program by an interfaith women’s Bible study from West Lake Hills Presbyterian Church. The ministry transformed into coordinating others from the church to give rides to homeless individuals for a warm shower at the church. This sweet beginning grew into the variety of programs offered today. These include Feed My People, the Interfaith Hospitality Network and Best Single Source Plus.
Feed My People
One of the foundation’s growing programs is called Feed My People. Twice each week at 4:30 a.m., volunteers and staff arrive at First United Methodist Church to serve hot, delicious meals to those in need. The group also offers shower facilities, a commercial kitchen and a cafeteria for the Feed My People program, enabling guests to clean up and enjoy breakfast in a social environment.
Interfaith Hospitality Network
Foundation for the Homeless also developed an affiliation with another local agency. Interfaith Hospitality Network is modeled after Family Promise, a national organization dedicated to keeping families together (rather than splitting them up into gender-specific housing). Interfaith manages volunteer housing services by providing a safe and warm bed for homeless people and their families.
The organization largely works with religious congregations to provide space, meals and volunteers to support families each week. Congregations rotate, so families can stay with a host home for a maximum of one week before moving in with another volunteer family. This design encourages client families to continue intentional work with their case managers, and protects congregations from burn-out.
Interfaith Hospitality Network in Austin manages approximately 30 congregations. These congregations can host up to four families a week, up to four times per year.
Best Single Source Plus
Not only does the foundation provide food and shelter for the homeless, but it also provides homelessness prevention services. Best Single Source Plus works specifically with people close to becoming homeless, by helping them with debt, employment referrals, stable housing and more.
Clients receive comprehensive case management services, as well as emergency financial assistance in order to avoid homelessness and develop financial stability. Foundation for the Homeless provides this program through collaboration with 13 other local non-profit agencies, making this a locally-focused and supported program.
These are just three of the programs mobilized by Austin’s Foundation for the Homeless. This non-profit strives to provide a safe and healthy environment for every person without a home, and to equip clients to move forward independently at the end of their stay.
To learn more, visit the Foundation for the Homeless website.
@theAustinot wants to know:
Have you thought about helping the local homeless community lately?
Angela Bowers is an event planner, native Texan and lifelong Longhorn. She enjoys writing, listening to podcasts, playing with her dog and hiking in her spare time. Connect with Angela on Twitter.