SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 News) - Non-profit "Family Promise-Salt Lake" uses volunteers from various faiths, including LDS, Catholic, Protestant and Jewish, to house homeless families and children inside various churches across the Wasatch Front.
Unlike other faith-based charities, Family Promise doesn't proselytize.
According to the American Institutes for Research, 1.6 million children experience homelessness each year.
Family Promise focuses solely on families with children, or women who are at least five months pregnant.
"The families that come through our doors are wonderful human beings, worthy of love and respect," says Tony Milner, executive director of Family Promise-Salt Lake.
The national non-profit operates a Salt Lake campus, but away from the downtown shelters.
"By nature we're safer, quieter and more supportive than other shelters," says Milner. "We do screen against drugs and alcohol for the safety and security of the churches and the volunteers that we're working with, as well as sexual offenders."
Community involvement, volunteers and donations make the program work.
Each week, a different church building is transformed into housing for up to four families.
"Living at the churches felt homey, it felt safe," says Glenda Gonzalez, a graduate of the program who now is able to pay her own rent and bills.
Volunteer church members provide families with clothing and food
During the day, families head to the day center in Salt Lake. There, they can get new clothing for jobs, toys for kids and various other necessities for daily life. The center has internet access, laundry facilities and day rooms for kids.
"Gabriel loves every minute of it, he always has tows and other kids to play with," says Tanner Cook a father of two who has been in the 45 day program for 2 weeks.
Cook lost his job, then his home. His family was sleeping in their car before they found out about Family Promise.
"I mean, it's never fun to say you're homeless, but with Family Promise, we're not homeless, we have a place to go," says Cook.
The program has numbers to show it's working.
"Every year we have about a 95% success rate of the families that come through us get into stable housing and then we also track them two years out and give two years of aftercare service and those folks, 100% are still housed."
The key are church members who care, but never try to convert.
"We're interfaith, non-proselytyzing," says Milner.
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