What is Valley Interfaith Promise (VIP)?
Valley Interfaith Promise (VIP) is a unique sheltering program for homeless families with children. VIP provides shelter, meals, transportation, and other vital support services through partnerships with local agencies, businesses, congregations, and individuals. Our goal is to help homeless families get back on their feet by assisting in finding housing, employment, and more.
Valley Interfaith Promise is a nonprofit 501(C)(3) and non-denominational organization. VIP began serving homeless families in the Chattahoochee Valley in 2006.
VIP is an affiliate of national Family Promise®. Family Promise®, established in 1986, is a national organization with over 181 networks in 41 states. These networks utilize over 6,000 congregations and 160,000 volunteers each year.
A Video History of Family Promise
Why Valley Interfaith Promise?
Because Family Promise networks are successful! Locally in 2012, 83% of the families succeeded in reaching their goals of full-time employment and permanent housing. In 2010, 93% of the families succeeded. VIP experienced a 72% success rate in 2013. Nationwide, over 70% of the families have succeeded in achieving their goals.
In 2012, the number of homeless households increased by 7% in Georgia, and by 14.5% in Alabama. Homeless families were the ONLY subgroup of the homeless population that increased in numbers.**
The current local school statistics show over 1,000 homeless students live with relatives or friends, or in cars, hotels, vacant buildings, and other uninhabitable conditions. VIP is reaching out to those in need in Columbus, Phenix City, and the surrounding areas to help homeless families.
** Source: The Homeless Research Institute: The State of Homelessness in America, 2013.
How does Valley Interfaith Promise work?
To begin the application process, homeless families seeking assistance from VIP call the VIP Office. The application process typically takes 2 to 3 business days to allow for a nationwide criminal background check and drug test on all applicants. In-depth interviews are also conducted.
VIP will NOT accept applicants with violent felonies, outstanding warrants, drug or alcohol abuse, or individuals exhibiting other unsafe behaviors.
Qualifying homeless families participate in our program for an initial 30 days, with extensions granted to those showing progress towards finding job and housing stability. The average stay of a successful family is around 2 to 3 months.
The family seeks employment and housing opportunities from the comfort and security of the VIP Day Center during the day and stays at a host congregation’s facility overnight.
VIP is able to serve up to three families, or a maximum total of fourteen people, at a time.
Five important resources for Valley Interfaith Promise:
Host Congregations open their facilities to provide evening hospitality, overnight lodging, and meals every evening for one week, four to five times a year. Host Congregations have a weekly rotating schedule for hosting.
All the VIP families reside at one Host Congregation for the week. The families are at the Host Congregation facility from 5:30pm until 7:00am, when families move to the VIP Day Center. Families are transported to the next Host facility on Sunday afternoon of each week. See Congregation page for the list of churches involved. There are eleven (11) host locations.
Volunteers are the lifeblood of Valley Interfaith Promise. Volunteers provide a variety of services, including cooking and serving meals, playing with children or helping with homework, and staying overnight with guests. Volunteers interact with the guests, treat them with respect, and respond with compassion.
Since this is done in the familiarity of the Host Congregation facility, it provides a great, safe opportunity for volunteers with children to participate. Volunteer opportunities are also available at the Day Center.
VIP DAY CENTER
Each day the guests are brought to our Day Center. It provides a safe, welcoming place for our guests from 7:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m to explore employment, housing, and other opportunities.
During the day, guests will look for or go to work, and some may be attending courses to gain or enhance employment skills. The children will attend either their school, a childcare facility, or summer programs. The Day Center has a shower and laundry facility, so churches without these facilities can still participate in hosting the families.
The VIP office is also located at the Day Center. The VIP staff consists of one full-time Director, one part-time Case Manager, and one part-time Driver.
Valley Interfaith Promise transports guests from the Host Congregation to the Day Center and back using a 15-passenger minibus. VIP may also provide transportation to employment interviews, housing searches, medical/dental appointments, and social service agencies. No CDL is needed to volunteer with transportation services.
Since VIP is self-supporting, it is very critical to open and maintain avenues of funding.
Expenses include direct assistance, insurance, utilities, maintenance, and a number of other necessary items to make our program a success.
Our funding comes from:
- local foundations (31%),
- individuals (27%),
- congregations (23%),
- VIP Bed Race (17%),
- and corporations (2%).
Each year, VIP hosts the annual Bed Race and Parade on the last Saturday of February.
Every Fall, we send out request letters for funding for next year’s budget.
VIP is always accepting donations (both material and monetary), grants, and fundraising opportunities. If you would like to contribute, please contact us! You can also make a safe and protected monetary donation on this website.
Every dollar you donate to VIP produces a 3-to-1 or higher return on your investment. VIP makes a difference and YOU can too!