We hear plenty about poverty in Rochester and with regard to homeless families, our RAIHN program is making a huge difference. RAIHN (Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network) is a network of 42 different faith organizations who collaborate to serve homeless families with children. Some congregations (“host congregations”) open their facilities to house the families for a week, while other congregations (“support congregations”) partner with host congregations and provide volunteers. RAIHN is an affiliate of Family Promise, which has 80 networks in 41 states and has served over 700,000 people since 1988.
It is often difficult for homeless families to find shelter as a group. RAIHN is dedicated to keeping families together while helping them find permanent housing. We do this each week by hosting 5 families, with up to fifteen individuals total. In a nutshell, here is how the program operates:
- Host congregations provide physical space for up to 5 families. This includes sleeping areas, eating areas, and communal spaces.
- Host congregations also provide volunteers for:
- physical space preparation (before guests arrive)
- greeting & orientation
- meal preparation
- overnight hosting
- laundry (at the end of the week)
- take down (at the end of the week)
- Support congregations provide volunteers for any/all of these tasks.
- Dedicated bus transportation is provided for the families to & from the host congregation and their day programming.
Sounds good, but how are we doing?
In any given year, RAIHN typically serves:
- over 30 families (over 100 individuals) – approximately 60% of them children.
- Over 4000 nights of safe and soft beds,
- 13,000 meals.
In the past few years, ~ 85% of guests have graduated to permanent housing, and one year later, over 90% remain in permanent housing! We regularly hear from graduates how RAIHN has helped them immensely.
But – the sad fact is that RAIHN must turn away hundreds of families each year – it is not physically possible to host more families at present.
At Third Presbyterian Church, our team, of approximately 60 volunteers, typically provides over 350 hours during our hosting week (which we do four times each year). Each task is important and there is satisfaction in knowing that you are making a real difference in people’s lives, as we strive to mitigate poverty, one family at a time.
If this ministry speaks to you, consider 1) contacting Lou Goggi at (585)781-4237 or
[email protected] and discussing how you can volunteer, or 2) sending a tax deductible, check made out to Third Presbyterian Church with “RAIHN” on the Memo line, to 4 Meigs St., Rochester, NY 14607.