Virtual Interview: Sam Church, Executive Director, Family Promise of Hawai‘i
How has your organization been able to continue its core mission(s)?
Our mission is to help homeless and low-income families in Hawai‘i achieve sustainable independence by mobilizing existing community resources and support. We address family homelessness holistically, providing prevention services before families reach crisis, shelter and case management when they become homeless, and stabilization programs once they have secured housing to ensure they remain independent.
In early March we had to make the tough decision to suspend our traditional shelter program to comply with CDC guidelines. From that moment until now, we have creatively developed new approaches to shelter and have increased our capacity to support families in our community who are experiencing a housing crisis. We are currently sheltering families in hotels, campsites and other underutilized facilities.
How has the COVID-19 crisis affected your donations, fundraising and other cash flow?
Luckily, we have seen an increase in the community coming together to support vulnerable families. We have even seen community members donate their stimulus checks to us. Unfortunately, the need for our services is increasing. In fact, we are experiencing a 400% spike in requests for help. So, we continue to need the support of our collective community in the days, weeks and months ahead.
Have you been able to find new ways to support communities in Hawai‘i?
In addition to shelter, we have also developed a COVID-19 Emergency Rental Assistance Fund to provide short-term financial assistance and case management to help families remain housed. We are also providing showers, laundry, internet, meals, masks, diapers and hygiene products for families in need. We recognize that a surge in evictions and increase in homelessness in the coming months is highly likely. We are quickly adjusting and increasing our availability of services to provide a safety net for vulnerable families.
What has been your organization’s experience with any level of government during this crisis?
We have applied for federal funding through the Emergency Solutions Grant program which was awarded supplemental funding from the CARES Act. We are awaiting a response from the RFP process. We were successful in receiving Paycheck Protection Program funding.
How do you think your organization will be different at the end of this year?
As mentioned, we are experiencing a spike in requests for help. We anticipate rapidly scaling our services, but to do so we continue to need the support of our collective community in the days, weeks, and months ahead. While these times are extremely challenging, we are warmed by the ways that our community partners, donors, staff, government and volunteers have extended resources, energy, information, manpower and their voices to care for one another.