Since early October, our community has generously supported efforts to provide and care for families impacted by the flood. Thank you for all you've done! We've been busy connecting your donations to families in need, and we're excited to give you an update on all that's happened so far.
In the beginning, we had hoped to purchase property and make housing available to families in need. We gathered enough furniture to comfortably fill at least two houses. During this time, we also researched best practices and met with other organizations doing similar work.
After identifying properties and making offers that weren't accepted, we decided to take a second look at our strategy and made the decision to focus our efforts on providing short term/rapid rehousing (based on a popular HUD model) instead of purchasing homes. This would allow us to quickly take action in supporting the families we've identified as partners in this process.
Back in October, DOWNTOWN CHURCH Session and staff agreed that we wanted to support families who were excited about engaging in a long-term partnership to create relevant and significant change in their lives; the kind of change that would require not only financial support and donations, but also time and commitment from our congregation.
Here's the story of one family we were able to help with some immediate needs before Christmas Break and continue to partner with in 2016.
One Family's Story
On October 4th, about four in the morning, a mom and dad awoke abruptly to find a pool of water in their bedroom. They managed to escape rising floodwaters by using the mattress they were sleeping on to reach safety, but they immediately thought of their little boy who was staying with relatives in another town that evening.
Hard working parents, mom and dad do what they can to provide a good life for their family and son. Mom drives a delivery truck and dad works in the restaurant industry. But some memories are hard to shake. The experience would be traumatizing to anyone. Mom now has a hard time when it rains, and really with water in general. It makes it really difficult to work when you can only drive when it’s not raining; it has rained a lot lately. But she is keeping her head up and getting help.
While this the family is able to pay rent, all of their contents got ruined in the flood. They were using candles to light the house; this is scary fire hazard anyway, but especially when a 5-year-old boy is in the mix. Through your generous donations, we were able to provide some lamps, kitchen supplies, much needed clothing and a new pair of shoes for the parents, and a small TV. The young boy already had some new Christmas toys thanks to an Angel Tree at his school. But until recently, mom and dad were sharing a borrowed car from a friend.
However, we were able to meet this family's need for reliable transportation by purchasing a used vehicle for them last week. Now, mom has signed up for a class at Midlands Technical College that begins in April. In this class, she'll complete certifications making her both more employable and increasing her salary options.
Over the next several weeks, we'll continue to support the immediate and longer-term needs for this family and identify a second family to support as well. In the coming months, we'll likely reach out again to our community for your time and expertise, rather than donations, as we equip these families to not only recover from the impact of the flood, but continue to achieve sustainable goals as determined by their own unique dreams for their futures.