Elijah is six years old. He comes from a large family of six and his parents have been trying the best they can, living paycheck to paycheck.
Their old landlord did not care much about the property they were renting and it was in poor repair. It was not surprising that an electrical issue in the basement led to a fire and Elijah's family was suddenly forced into homelessness.
His parents did not start at our shelter or on the streets - they moved around, staying with family or friends until their welcome ran out. Finally, they had no where else to go and got connected with us. The day of their intake was a difficult time for Elijah and his family - but every day got better after that.
This picture was taken several weeks later on the day Elijah's family moved into their new apartment. We were happy to be there and to be a part of changing their story!
Facts have been changed to protect his identify, but Elijah's story is a composite created from the kinds of families FPWNY serves. On any given day in Erie County, there are twice as many families needing emergency housing then shelter spaces available. Our guests end up homeless reasons related ultimately to poverty - eviction, job loss, medical emergency, divorce or a death to name a few. We change stories of despair into hope and get families housed.
We one one of only two shelters in Erie County that keep families together which include fathers and teenage sons. On any given day in Erie County, there are twice as many families who need shelter as their are shelter beds and typical shelter models separate men from women and children. In times of crisis, family unity provides critical support to all our guests, 70% of whom are children.
With only three families at a time in our program, we run a small-scale model that allows us to focus a lot of personal attention on each of our guests. We strive to create a family-like environment based on compassion, respect and shared community. We know each person here by name. Our Case Manager is able to provide intensive case management to make sure our kids are in school every day and our parents are receiving the services they need to succeed.
We mobilize the Western New York community to form our hospitality network, helping us achieve our mission. Our program is full of generous people who want to be a part of the solution to end family homelessness by providing food, shelter, donations, labor, outreach and hospitality. With only 2 full-time employees, our network of hundreds of volunteers are imperative to our success and help families achieve permanent housing at a fraction of the cost of traditional shelters.
Check out this video to see what Family Promise of WNY is all about!
Video courtesy of Greg Keith, Director/Filmmaker
and Grace Lindsey, Producer/Filmmaker
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75 Hickory Street, Buffalo, New York 14204
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