Every step has been a step of faith in the vision for bringing The Dream Center of Pickens County to a reality and God has proven faithful. As my previous post indicated, our attempt to purchase Pickens Middle School was repeatedly shot down and we knew it was because God had a better plan in mind for The Dream Center. The Dream Center currently consists of people from many different churches who are passionate about sharing the love of Jesus by helping people in our community. When we first began talking about The Dream Center, we envisioned it to be a homeless shelter. Last year, we received a call from someone who had 10 single beds to donate to us. We did not have a current need for them but knowing our desire to help the homeless, we said yes and placed them in storage. As we began to understand the greatest need, we changed the direction of The Dream Center. It would not be a homeless shelter but a hub for non-profits to work together in mentoring families out of poverty to prevent homelessness.We would have to work on a different plan for a shelter.
As God closed the door on Pickens Middle, we continued to pray and we continued to reach out to people. One example of people we are assisting: I received a call from one of the elementary schools about a desperate family. The single grandmother was raising two beautiful granddaughters and she had suffered a heart attack and was experiencing a major financial setback. The rent had to be paid within 2 days or they would be without a home. As I explained to the social worker, The Dream Center is not about paying a bill and walking away. If we paid for this rent, we would need to visit this family and better understand the reason they are struggling and work on a plan to get on track. In collaboration with the social worker, that is what we are doing. For our first visit, my friend Shannon and I took a box of food and introduced ourselves. This grandmother was tough and explained her situation very matter of factly. But at the end of our visit, as Shannon begin to pray asking God for a miracle in this family and for this woman to intimately know Jesus, this tough lady began to weep. This is what The Dream Center represents. Not just a box a food, not just a paid bill, but hope in Jesus Christ and people who are willing to stay the course in giving a hand up not a hand out.
As part of the United Way homeless coalition, I attended a monthly meeting about four months ago and learned of an organization called Family Promise that would be coming to Pickens County to do a presentation of their program. As you can learn on the website familypromise.org, this is an organization that helps homeless families. There are already 177 affiliates operating in 41 states and 53 more in development. Pickens County is now one of the ones in development. This program enables churches in the county to get involved by being "host" congregations. With only 13 churches agreeing to host families 4x a year, Family Promise can help homeless families in Pickens County get back on their feet. The program only accepts 14 people into the program at a time which usually represents 3-4 families. Family Promise uses a box truck to deliver single beds to the church and brings the families to the church in the evening. (Remember the beds that were donated to The Dream Center last year??) The church volunteers bring in dinner for the families and spend some time getting to know them. The families and a church volunteer spend the night at the church and Family Promise shows up bright and early the next morning to pick the families up and take them to a "day center" where the school bus picks up the kids and parents are mentored toward self-suffiency. (The day center sounds like The Dream Center doesn't it?) After one week, Family Promise moves the beds and the families to the next scheduled host church. My excitement about Family Promise is right up there with The Dream Center as I see God working everything together in His best way. Jim and I have joined the team of people who are making Family Promise a reality in Pickens County.
The current status of Family Promise: the program has been presented to 12 churches in Pickens County so far. All 12 responded favorably but we are waiting for definite commitment from our first church and are seeking other churches in Pickens County who are interested in learning more about this program. The program must have 13 churches committed before it can begin helping families. The needed box truck has already been donated and the articles of incorporation have been filed.
The current status of The Dream Center: Being presented with a check from Toyota of Easley for $23,000 next Wednesday. We are officially a non-profit corporation and are completing process for 501c3 status. Preparing to make an offer on a building. Collaborating with FCA/ Easley First Baptist Church to provide free transportation to kids in 3 poverty stricken apartment communities to a free, Christ-centered basketball camp this summer. Working with 3 families who are suffering hardship in our community. Collaborating with Family Promise in developing the Pickens County network.
How can you help Family Promise?? PRAY. PRAY. PRAY. Get your church involved! We are available to come explain the Family Promise program to your pastor (only takes 30 minutes) so your church can make an informed decision about participation. For churches that do not have the facilities to host, they can still be involved as a support church and provide volunteers. Pray for the donation of a 15 passenger van which is needed to transport families. Come to the next meeting, June 26th at the YMCA in Pickens to get involved!
How can you help The Dream Center?? PRAY. PRAY. PRAY for us to be able to purchase a building. PRAY for us to continue to receive financial support from the community. PRAY for us to continue to reach families and for the kids coming to basketball camp. PRAY for our logo and website development. PRAY for wisdom and discernment and for everything The Dream Center does to be Christ-centered and ultimately point people to HIM. Pray for the team of people working together to continue to trust God for His plan and His provision.