Every tenth week Bradenton (Fla.) Christian Reformed Church fills its Family Life Center with cots and pillows. For the whole week the church building turns into a hotel for homeless families.
The Florida congregation is part of the national Family Promise Interfaith Hospitality Network, which aims to help families recover from desperate times.
Coordinator Peggy Bode said the congregation provides volunteers to cook, clean, and provide transportation and friendship. One woman who came in had been sleeping in her car with her children, ages 5 and 2; another mother had lived in her vehicle with three teens.
“We take some of the burdens off the parents,” said Judy Barber, one of the volunteers. On Wednesday evenings and Sundays the families join church activities.
Unlike in some homeless shelters, husbands and wives aren’t separated at night. “[This program] keeps the family unit together. Even though there are hard times in their lives, they’re still all together,” Barber said.