Family Promise began as the vision of one woman in New Jersey who saw a need and took action. In 1986, Karen Olson had a life-changing encounter with a homeless woman on the street. Karen offered the woman a sandwich, and the woman offered to share her story. Karen was able to learn from her about the struggles that so many people face when homeless, and this ignited a life-long passion to help those in need.
After discovering that many families in New Jersey were experiencing homelessness, Karen took action. She reached out to her community and brought together a network of congregations and volunteers who shared in her vision to end homelessness among families. By bringing together her community, this network could leverage available resources to offer shelter, food and supportive services. In October 1986, the first Family Promise (then called Interfaith Hospitality Network) began serving families and laid the groundwork for the unique way that Family Promise affiliates operate today. Two years later, this model was adopted in other communities in New Jersey and beyond, and the national Family Promise organization was born.
Fast forward nine years: In November 1997, Family Promise of Greater Denver began serving homeless families in Denver with the help of 10 host congregations and four support congregations. Today, the network has expanded to serve homeless families throughout the metro-Denver area with the support and generosity of 25 host congregations, 42 support congregations, and two civic groups. Since 1997, Family Promise of Greater Denver has helped more than 1,100 families, including 2,000 children.
On a national level, Family Promise is comprised of 192 affiliates in 42 states. Family Promise affiliates care for the basic needs of 50,000 people every year, offering them an opportunity for a brighter future. Across the nation, thousands of struggling families have received help because one person acted with compassion and united her community to serve those in need: Learn more about the collaboration & National Family Promise Week!