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Helping Hand: Family Promise of East Bell County

The non-profit helps get families into homes and off the street.

TEMPLE, Texas — Having a roof over your head and a place to call home is a luxury some people in our community don't have, but for the last 18 years, Family Promise of East Bell County has worked to change that.

"Family Promise serves families who are homeless in Bell County," Executive Director Rucker Preston said. "So anyone who is homeless with at least one child under the age of 18 can be served." 

Rucker Preston said they have three programs available for the community: guest shelter program, shelter diversion initiative, and welcome home through our shelter.

Ashley Stark and her 2-year-old son are now living in an apartment thanks to Family Promise.

"There was a time when I just needed to start over and I had nothing and I had to reach out for help," said Stark. "I felt cared about, I felt supported, I had resources to get a car and a job, and my basic needs were met."

Family Promise will house families for some time if area shelters are full while also providing them with a case manager to work through the next steps like securing housing, employment, and transportation.

"We are about outcomes so when a family comes to us is homeless we begin with her contract of work and then we look at all the goals," Preston said.

Since 2004 they've worked out of a building owned by the city of Temple. Preston said they're only able to serve about three to four families at a time.

But come this fall, at S 25th St and Avenue N, a 6,500 square foot building called The Promise House will be their new place of operation.

"We will serve seven families at one time," Preston said. "I'll have a library living room dining room." 

There will also be a community kitchen and pantry, and each family will get their own bathroom. Certain volunteers will also be able to stay overnight on site.

Even in its bare state, you can tell, the building is being built with love. 

Messages of encouragement are written on the beams on the building. Preston said the city gifted them two acres to build and then the community funded the rest.

"So it's really valuable to see that this community cares about the more vulnerable people," Preston said. "So homeless children and families have been taken care of by this community." 

As for Ashley, she said her life was changed for the better.

"I'm really grateful to have a place to call home," Stark said.

Family Promise could always use a few extra volunteers. Volunteers spent time with guest families and provide meals. If you want to get more information or would like to sign up head to Family Promise's website.

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