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Tue, Nov 23, 2021 at 2:10PM

'All she could do was cry'

Walking into her family’s Family Renew Community apartment for the first time, a little girl was overwhelmed by the fact that she now had someplace safe to live after she and her family were living in their car. The emotion of safety and security got the best of the child as she wept uncontrollably with the love she and her family felt from the staff at one of our residential campuses for families experiencing homelessness.

Homelessness is by itself a traumatic experience, especially to the young children who often feel out of control due to their lack of stability and a regular place to live. This situation was only made worse by the added uncertainty of COVID-19. But we provided her with an inviting bed of her own, filled with toys and things specifically chosen for her. This is a picture of a typical day for the staff at Family Renew Community. The pandemic presented an added challenge to an already difficult ministry.

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Many feel that 2021 was a year of returning to normal. COVID rates are down, vaccinations are plentiful, people can travel once again, stores are open for business, and jobs seem to be abundant with few available to fill those jobs. However, for the homeless families with children we serve the uncertainty and fear continues. Unfortunately, as they entered the pandemic they had no real foundation or structure to help them survive.

When the COVID crisis first hit, our staff planned to work from the safety of our own homes and engage with our clients and staff via telephone and virtual meetings. However, before we even got started on this new track one of the moms approached me after hearing our plan and said “Mr. Tony, please don’t abandon us. Our whole life we have been abandoned by our families and friends!” So, we were determined to make sure the families we serve never felt alone and saw us and interfaced with us. Early on we would minister to our charges through a mask, a long distance wave or even through a car window, but they saw us and never lost confidence that we cared and were there to serve them. By the Grace of God food and supplies were plentiful and the day-to-day needs of our families were met and God’s provision and abundance was ever present.

Family Renew Community has an amazing team, the best I have ever worked with! They came on campus each and every day regardless of their own circumstances. Always remembering that what we do is for the Glory of God, never forgetting His expectation is that what we do for the least of these, we do onto Him, and ever focusing on the fact that we never abandoned our FRC families, even at our own peril.

Now as things hopefully and prayerfully begin to return to normal we are emerging from the crisis, a little tattered, even limping a bit, but even more committed and stronger than before. Our team even though we have been physically separated at times have grown closer and more resilient together. The love for our families and each other has flourished and FRC families have learned how to rise above their circumstances. Normally, our families struggled with their simple day-to-day challenges. But now they were rising up to the life issues that knocked them down before and even took on the potentially overwhelming struggles caused by COVID. I often feel like the Proud Papa watching his children grow and mature to meet the day whatever it brings. I hope and pray that our Trustees and board members can join in and experience and delight in the impact this ministry and their leadership has created and supported.

This blog post was excerpted from the executive director's annual report to the Board of Trustees.

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