Churches come together hoping to help homeless

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) - By Elizabeth Vowell – email

PASCAGOULA, MS (WLOX) – According to members of Family Promise Jackson Promise, last year alone there were nearly 300 homeless children in the Jackson County School District.

"As you can imagine there is a huge need for us to try and serve the homeless population, and with the economy as it is that seems to only be increasing. So we're trying to help get something started to get families back on their feet," said Family Promise organizer Mary Davis.

For these reasons, nearly ten churches throughout Jackson County are forming a Jackson County branch of Family Promise, which is a non-profit that helps provide food, shelter, and assistance to homeless families with children under 18.

"So often our chances to minister or be missionaries in the world entail going off somewhere we have a unique opportunity to do it here at home.  We have a unique opportunity, I think, in this program to do it as a family," said Kathy Ruckdeschel, who is a member of Pascagoula's First Presbyterian Church.

Churches in the program provide shelter and food for the homeless families.  Each church volunteers one week during which they host families each night.

"In the morning our van would pick them up and they'd go to our day center and that's where they shower and do laundry and receive social services," said Davis.

These social services would be job training, parenting classes, and budgeting classes to help the families become independent.   Families usually stay with these programs for around two months.

To get started the program is applying for a Pepsi Refresh Grant, something you can help them win by voting online.

"Jesus said I was hungry, you fed me, when I was naked you clothed me.  We don't ever know who we are entertaining.  When we are entertaining people who are homeless we maybe one-step from that position, so I say to other churches it would be a great outreach for your church," explained Rev. Larry Hawkins, Sr. of Union Baptist Church.

Family Promise still needs more churches to get involved before they can fully get up and running.  The group meets every third Tuesday in Pascagoula at St. John's Episcopal Church.  The next meeting is September 21, at 6:30 P.M.  For more information call the Church of the Rock at (228) 762 3221.

Copyright 2010 WLOX. All rights reserved.