In late March 2020, we received word that the three families currently served by Family Promise (Interfaith Hospitality Network of Athens) could not continue the rotational model for housing due to COVID-19 restrictions for various host congregations. As options were considered, there was real concern that the organization would be forced to end its services to families experiencing homelessness, at a time when these families needed support and shelter the most. Stepping out on faith, the elders/leadership team offered our facility as a static site, in order for these families to have the support and temporary housing offered through Family Promise as they continued their search for permanent sustainable housing. We made plans to keep everyone safe through social distancing and cleaning routines. Our families experienced job layoffs and cut hours, which would have been an additional obstacle towards their goals for stable housing. Through our efforts, partnering with people of faith around Athens who understand our call to hospitality and kindness to our neighbors, we were able to keep our families housed safely, with the emotional support that the adults and children have needed during this time of stress and anxiety. The school social worker who works with homeless students identified our arrangement as the optimum plan for protecting mental and emotional health for kids experiencing homelessness during this public health emergency.
In the last two weeks, two of our families have obtained permanent housing and have moved out. Each has been grateful for a safe place to be, a true shelter in the storm. We are awaiting a family of eight moving in this Thursday, who have been quarantining at a local hotel before moving to our building. We are not always planning to be the static site for our community, so we will reclaim our building when we are ready for in person meetings. We are already committed to hosting under the rotational model for two weeks at the end of August and beginning of September if you are interested in volunteering. There are also opportunities even now to serve if you are interested, with social distancing and safe practices.
We want to communicate to you how our community is learning who we are as people of faith, generosity, and hospitality – people in Athens and Oconee now know the Athens Church of Christ. Thank you for partnering with this act of faith in offering kindness to our neighbors, at a time when the world needs kindness, compassion, empathy, hospitality, generosity and most of all the love of Jesus.
Steve and Rachele Gibson
Link to sign up for volunteer opportunities: bit.ly/FP_May (Even though the link says May it is current for June.)
Father’s Day is June 21st!
We want to honor our amazing Dads next Sunday, but we need your help! Two things you can do:
*Please send in pictures of your families! Generational pictures are encouraged. Pictures of Dads and their kids (even big kids) are good too!
*Please send in videos!
1. What is one word that describes your Dad?
2. Why is your Dad great? (15 Seconds)
3. What has your Dad taught you about life? (15 Seconds)