On a recent Sunday evening, Delmar Presbyterian Church welcomed three homeless families for a week-long stay, repurposing rooms normally used for meetings and religious education to provide each family with a private, comfortable bedroom.

In preparation, congregants had set up the rooms with portable beds and cribs provided by Family Promise of the Capital Region (FPCR), adding their own homey touches like lamps and throw rugs and welcome signs listing each family member’s name.

The families, transported to the church via Family Promise’s 15-passenger van, were warmly greeted by trained volunteers from the church, who showed the families to their private rooms and gave them a brief orientation to the space they would call home for the week. Family members and volunteers then sat down to enjoy a home-cooked meal together.

“This direct interaction between families and volunteers really puts a human face on the issue of homelessness, and underscores the fact that each of us could be only one catastrophe away from being in a similar situation,” says Irene Harbison, coordinator of volunteers from Delmar Presbyterian Church.

So begins each week for families served by Family Promise. Later in the evening, new volunteers arrive to play games with the children and to visit with the parents, who are working on goals that will allow them to secure affordable housing and sustainable employment.

Yet another set of volunteers, usually at least one male and one female congregant, will arrive at 8:30 p.m. to stay over­night in their own private rooms, steps away from the guest families, to ensure their comfort and safety.

Early in the morning, still other volunteers will arrive to set out a quick breakfast for the guest families before the van returns to take them back to the Family Promise Day Center in Albany, the central service hub of the program.

The Family Promise Day Center, located in the former parsonage of Bethany Reformed Church, is where guest families come to shower, do laundry, leave for school or work, research jobs and apartments, and receive help from staff and volunteers as they work toward securing employment, affordable daycare and benefits, and safe and affordable housing.

Delmar Presbyterian is only one of 13 different faith communities within the Family Promise Interfaith Hospitality Network that provide a weekly home to three to four families, four times a year. This ecumenical network also includes a number of support congregations that provide additional volunteers who serve at the weekly host sites and the day center.

All told, there are more than 500 trained volunteers locally who provide the person-to-person love and support our guest families need to maintain their dignity while they regain their independence.

“Being a Family Promise volunteer is a unique, direct way of living out my faith by serving those in need, and I can tell you that I get as much or more out of the experience than I give,” says volunteer Peach Tobin. “It also gives me a glimpse into different faith traditions and renews my conviction that we all share responsibility for caring for the most vulnerable in our community.”

The program does not receive government funding. Rather, it relies on support from individual donors, congregations, local businesses and foundations to fulfill its mission.

Learn more about Family Pro­mise and view a full list of par­ticipating congregations by visiting www.familypromiseofthecapitalregion.org; contact our day center at (518) 650-8895 or capitalregionfamilypromise@gmail.com.

We are thrilled to be uniting faith communities to serve homeless families and would be delighted to include you in carrying out our mission.

(Mary Giordano is executive director of Family Promise of the Capital Region.)