Group sees expansion in 4th year

Family Promise of Lycoming County celebrated the completion of its third year with a ribbon cutting and reception on Wednesday afternoon.

Family Promise is a consortium of 14 churches that rotate in hosting up to four families at a time until those families can find a place to live.

The host church where the families sleep changes every week, and during the days the families come to the Family Promise Day Center at 804 Sherman St., a house leased from Redeemer Lutheran Church for $1 a year.

The ribbon cutting marked the opening of Family Promise’s “clothes closet” at the day center.

“People who need dress clothing for interviews and such can come here and get some outfits,” said Melissa Magargle, executive director. “We were getting so much clothing donated and we were just giving it away.”

Family Promise is expanding its mentorship program right now, too. Mentors stay in contact with families who graduate the program, to help them with any issues that might arise in day-to-day life.

“It’s about making friendships,” said volunteer mentor Sue Fluke. “It’s about helping the girls to succeed on their own once they gain their independence. I call them, or they call me, and I pay at least one home visit every month.”

Magargle hopes that services offered at the day center for participating families can be expanded to others who are not in the program.

“We provide training in budgeting, parenting and anger management. We don’t tell them what to do, but we do guide them,” she said. “We always have job postings up … We’d like to start opening it up so people come here, get the case management services, have a place to stay during the day and get on the computer, without being guests in our program. There’s so many people out there, at the library, hanging out in laundromats, with nowhere else to go during the day, who could be doing something here.”

Any possible expansion of Family Promise’s ministry will run up against an issue of space.

“It’s such a blessing to begin in this building, but surely but slowly we’ve grown to the point where there’s not enough room,” Magargle said. “Churches in Jersey Shore want to start a second rotation and we already get a lot of people we can’t take because we’re full.”

A facility such as the former Mater Dolorosa Church at 634 Hepburn St. would be perfect for Family Promise’s ministry, Magargle said.

“They have four bathrooms there,” she said. “There’s nothing worse than getting all the kids in and out the bathroom in the morning when we’re full with 14 people. If I’ve got a facility like that we’d be able to open that up and provide that room, and then there’s the possibility of doing joint projects with somebody else.”

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