Cabarrus

Homeless advocates dissolve agency

After struggling to raise funds, a local nonprofit that assists the homeless will dissolve and transfer its assets and services to another local ministry.

The services of Family Promise of Cabarrus County, which helps house homeless families through a network of churches, will become part of Cooperative Christian Ministry's shelter and housing ministry.

The organizations' boards recently announced the decision to integrate Family Promise's services into CCM.

In June, Family Promise leaders approached CCM about forming an alliance.

A joint task force decided that Family Promise should be dissolved and its assets handed over to CCM, which would incorporate Family Promise's program into its own services.

Family Promise began in 2004 and built a network of churches that allowed homeless families to stay at each church for a week at a time.

Ten local churches participate in the rotation, and another 12 Cabarrus County churches provide volunteers and meals for the families.

A local affiliate of the National Interfaith Hospitality Network, the organization had the capacity to assist 14 people at a time and provided transportation, moving them each week to a different church.

Family Promise raised $50,000 this year - nearly half of the organization's $107,000 budget, said Angela Orrock, president of Family Promise's board of trustees.

Expenses

The organization's primary expense was the director's $40,000 salary, plus a medical stipend. The budget had included salaries for both the director and a van driver who would transport the families to the churches and the day center.

The organization's other major expenses included gas for the van, insurance and utilities for the day center, which provided homeless families a place to shower, do laundry, meet with volunteers and search for housing and employment.

Struggles

The ministry struggled to get off the ground, said Orrock, and there was no one to regularly write grant applications to raise more money.

"It's a slow and hard process to get a nonprofit going," said Orrock.

Family Promise lost its director, Pam Smith, after the organization began struggling to pay her salary. Smith has since been hired as a program manager for CCM's Mothers and Children Housing Ministry.

Financial concerns

Taking on Family Promise's services will mean an additional financial burden for CCM.

If those who donated to Family Promises continue their support, CCM should be able to continue the program, said Ed Hosack, CCM's executive director.

"If that level of support remains in place, CCM will just have to make up the difference," said Hosack.

Many nonprofits nationwide have suffered as donors have clung tighter to their wallets during the economic downturn. But CCM has expanded its ministries during the past three years.

In 2008, CCM's budget was $743,000. The 2010-2011 budget is $1.2 million.

Filling a need

In July, CCM opened a house on Spring Street in Concord that will provide emergency and transitional housing for mothers and their children who are homeless or in danger of becoming homeless.

"Our community has exceeded our budget expectations each year," said Hosack. "We believe that's an indication that our community sees what we're doing and sees that it's not only important but effective."

The future

CCM will hire a full-time program manager to coordinate services for its new program, and Hosack said CCM might expand the program in the future.

"It's been a great thing, I think," said Orrock of the decision to hand over Family Promise's services to CCM. "The demand is there. We just needed to get the word out more."

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