There are pockets of homeless and hunger needs in Morris County. For example there is a “tent city” whose residents go to the Community Soup Kitchen in the Church of the Redeemer in Morristown. The Kitchen serves over 300 people in the winter. Another program that deals with hunger is the Interfaith Food Pantry. A lot of food is contributed around the holidays. After the holidays, contributions decline so people should schedule support efforts in February. Her church goes to the Food Pantry once per month to do volunteer work.
Besides hunger, there is also the issue of homelessness. About 800 people in Morris County have no place to stay. There are 17,000 people living in sub-standard housing in Morris County. In 1986 the organization “Family Promise” was started to address needs of the homeless. Cindy referred to the chart shown above this paragraph to explain that Family Promise branched out to the Interfaith Council for Homeless Families of Morris County, which is now housed at the old Greystone Hospital. One arm of this organization is the IHN, 65 to 70 congregations that house the homeless 365 days per year. Churches host IHN residents for one week, four or five times per year. As the chart above shows, the IHN provides many more services than housing.
A typical week of hosting IHN begins with rearranging the church, converting classrooms to individual apartments for clients. There is also a larger common community room, game room and dining room. On Sunday, clients arrive with all their belongings in black plastic garbage bags. Church volunteers stay, sleep, and eat with the clients all the time they are in the building. Typically there are up to 15 clients who are served a hot meal when they arrive after which they go their “apartments” or common rooms. Clients are mostly single mothers with very young children. Weekday mornings, the IHN van comes and clients have to get on it. Children go to either their regular public school or day school. Adults are taken to work (if they have jobs), training, or the IHN day care center at Greystone. Clients have rules which are obeyed because the program is so good.
Cindy showed a video from Family Promise, which is trying to open more Hospitality Networks. Click here to view the video. She also handed out literature giving more details on the program. Click here to go the Family Promise website to learn more about this organization.
The program includes clients who are poor as well as people who are educated and capable but just down on their luck. IHN provides shelter, food and tools to help clients becomes self-sufficient. There are some success stories. One woman recently completed her medical assistant training and is now looking for an internship position. She hopes to get a job and move into an apartment.