Family Promise hopes to relocate in former Mater Dolorosa rectory

The city Planning Commission is scheduled to review a request Monday by Family Promise to have a day center for homeless families with children move into the rectory next to Mater Dolorosa Church at 635 Hepburn St.

City Zoning Officer Gary Knarr said he has received a letter of intent from Melissa Magargle, executive director of Family Promise, requesting the meeting with the planners, which is scheduled to begin at noon.

“We’re wanting people to hear the plea that this area has its considerable homeless populations that’s not recognized because they are hidden,” Magargle said.

“They don’t want somebody to take their children because they don’t have a home,” she said. “In order for us to help the families our day center is imperative. We’re working out of another location now, so it’s disruptive to an already disruptive situation the families are facing in life.”

During the day, the families – while at the day center – can complete normal functions such as showering and doing laundry, Magargle said.

According to Magargle, the Mater Dolorosa rectory will be a good fit for Family Promise’s mission.

“This (also) will help give us a central location for our outreach and mission,” she said.

Each night, the program’s guests are transported to one of 14 area churches, where families eat dinner and get a room in which to sleep, she said.

The family members return to the center at 7 a.m. so that school districts can transport their children to school. Guests can stay in the program for up to four months, Magargle said.

“Nobody served has active in-court cases of domestic violence, or drug or alcohol,” Magargle said.

The families staying at the shelter receive parenting, nutrition, resume building and financial management training; and referrals to other agencies are given whenever a mental health or drug or alcohol counseling is needed, she said.

The non-profit organization will lease the facility from St. Joseph the Worker Parish, Knarr said.

Knarr said the non-profit also would need to get a variance granted by the city Zoning Hearing Board. A meeting for that purpose is scheduled for 10:30 a.m. March 20.