Family Promise changes lives BY AMY COYNE BREDESON PHOTO COURTESY OF DANIELLE VELEZ
JUST FIVE WEEKS AFTER GIVING BIRTH TO HER FIRST CHILD, DANIELLE VELEZ OF BLUFFTON FOUND HERSELF NEEDING A PLACE TO LIVE.
Danielle Velez and her son, Jameson Ives, completed the Family Promise program in October 2013.
elez contacted the local Medicaid office to find out a place of her own. She and Jameson live with her mother for what programs were available to her and her infant son, now, but she hopes to get their own place in about a year. Jameson. She was referred to Family Promise of Beaufort Velez said she doesn’t qualify for government housing or County, an affiliate of the national nonprofit organization food stamps because of her income, but she still makes too that provides temporary shelter, food and other resources to little to pay for her own home. homeless families with children. “The lack of affordable housing, the lack of any type of public Local congregations provide shelter for the families, who transportation, and the issue of child care on the weekends move once a week from one location to the next. Volunteers and in the evenings is huge,” Family Promise executive director serve food to the families and offer companionship. Staff Lynda Halpern said. “It hurts these families, and it’s hard members provide case management and help families find keeping a workforce here. A lot of folks in the hospitality and jobs, child care, school placement and ultimately affordable service industries are having trouble finding people to work in housing. their restaurants and in their After a thorough stores because people can’t A LOT OF FOLKS IN THE HOSPITALITY AND interview and background afford to live here.” check, Velez and her son On average, Family SERVICE INDUSTRIES ARE HAVING TROUBLE were accepted into the Promise program FINDING PEOPLE TO WORK IN THEIR program. While it was not participants make about the ideal situation for a new RESTAURANTS AND IN THEIR STORES BECAUSE $10 an hour, Halpern said. mother and her child, Velez is She said an individual would PEOPLE CAN’T AFFORD TO LIVE HERE. thankful for the organization need to make $16 an hour and its volunteers. and work 40 hours a week to Over the next five weeks, Velez continued to work full time afford an apartment that costs $750 a month plus utilities, and care for her baby. She also attended classes through Family and there are so few of those units available that there are Promise that focused on household management, parenting long waiting lists. skills and budgeting, among other lessons. Halpern said Family Promise of Beaufort County currently It was a stressful time for Velez, but she said the staff and has four families in the program. The parents have all found volunteers at Family Promise were excellent. Almost four jobs, started bank accounts and are saving money. They are years later, she still keeps in touch with her counselor and ready to move out, but there’s no place for them to go. case manager. “It’s kind of a clog, so to speak, in the pipeline,” Halpern Velez now works in guest relations for Marriott Vacation said. “There’s more people out there that need help, but we Club, but even with a good job, she has struggled to afford have no space for them.” 40 hiltonheadmonthly.com