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  • Family Promise of Southern Chester County

The homeless crisis is on the rise in America. In some cities, analytics are reporting an increase of 25% of their homeless population.

Homelessness can be a taboo topic for many. It seems like there's a duality of thinking could never happen to me, but what if it does? Like the plague, we avoid it.

Yet, these are people we are ignoring. People in need of help, support.

Let's take a broad look at what living homeless looks like.

5 Surprises About Homelessness

These are general ideas to expand your perception of homelessness. By discussing the topic at large, we hope to bring attention to the homeless so that a more specific solution can be found collectively.

1. There Is No Type

Many think of one type of person when they picture what is it like to be homeless: dirty, hungry, unhappy.

There may be further connotations that many perceive of the homeless: mentally ill, drug addiction, incapable.

While these factors hold true for some individuals, it's not a general statement for the homeless population.

In fact, many in America are homeless in direct relation to their status as veterans for their service in the military. 1 in 10 of the homeless population is a U.S. veteran, usually suffering from PTSD.

The next time you see a homeless person, see them for who they are, not their situation.

2. There Is No Age

Another common idea that we hold is that the homeless are adults.

This is not true.

Children and the elderly are just as susceptible to being homeless, as well. The National Center on Family Homelessness estimates that 2.5 million children in America are homeless. That's 1 in 30 kids.

Those at either side of the age spectrum are at increased vulnerability while homeless. They are less able to provide food, shelter, clothing, or medical care for themselves.

3. There Is No Minimum

You do not have to be poor to be homeless. You just have to be in an unfortunate situation.

While many homeless are unemployed, not all are. There are many homeless people with careers, clean clothing, cars, etc. But circumstances have dealt them an unexpected hand that has left them without a house.

This can happen to individuals, and it can happen to families. They may be able to bounce back on their own, but it can be a difficult struggle to survive when it feels like the water is already up to your neck.

4. There Is No Rhyme or Reason

Everyone has a story. Unfortunately, the homeless are most often the first to go unheard. There is a wide range of reasons that a person can find themselves going homeless.

Maybe they suffer a medical condition that they've funneled the last of their savings towards curing.

Maybe they are an LGBTQ+ individual that has been disowned by their family.

Maybe they just took a wrong turn in life.

Whatever the reason, they all need help to get back into safe, nourishing environments.

5. There Is No Singular Solution

Homelessness is a broad issue.

There are some who are down on their luck, and some who need far more support than any one system can handle.

It takes a collective effort of the community to offer assistance, shelter, and guidance. It's not an easy process, but it can be done with everyone's help.

Including yours.

How You Can Help

There are many ways you can offer aid to homelessness.

If you're in the Pennsylvania area, consider volunteering your time to help provide food and shelter to the homeless. Also, please consider donating food, clothing, or other contributions, if possible.

Every little bit helps.

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  • Family Promise of Southern Chester County

KENNETT SQUARE—Family Promise of Southern Chester County is proud to be part of a nationwide effort to help children and families who are homeless regain their sustainable independence. Along with the national organization they are celebrating their mission that everyone needs a home during Family Promise Week, which ends October 27.

During the week, the 57 families who have moved through the program were given a week’s worth of socks for each member of their family, thanks to a generous donation by Bombas, a performance sock manufacturer with a one purchased, one donated program. It’s part of a national program for all Family Promise affiliates. Donations to support other needs of families experiencing homelessness can be made at

“Our families come to us in difficult times and leave our program by moving into safe, sustainable housing that is made possible with the guidance and services we offer in time of crisis,” said Susan Minarchi, Executive Director, Family Promise of Southern Chester County. “Our Stabilization program ensures that the families remain sustainably housed. Providing socks is one more way we can show support and help families feel warm during trying times.”

Started as a local effort to address the crisis of family homelessness, Family Promise works on the principle that the services to help children and their families experiencing homelessness are already in the community. The program brings together congregations to provide overnight temporary housing, and a Resource Center in Kennett Square for case management.

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Renna Van Oot, has been named the Executive Director as the agency expands support services for families in Southern Chester County. COVID-19 has caused the program to shift its housing model, provide more direct funding to help families remain stably housed and engage volunteers in new ways.

“Our new reality is that more families are at risk of spiraling into homelessness” said Kim Zuleba, Board President. “Family Promise is responding by offering prevention and stabilization services. Renna’s combination of nonprofit leadership experience, operational expertise and strategic planning is welcomed as the demand for our shelter, services and programs are at an all-time high and we are evolving our long-term support strategy to meet community needs.”

Van Oot has served as an interim executive director with Family Promise since March. Her previous nonprofit leadership includes Big Brothers and Sisters Independence Region, Friends Home, Tressler Center of Delaware, Family Services Association of Holcomb Behavioral Health and AIDS DE. Van Oot received her BA from the University of Delaware, a J.D. from Delaware Law School and a Master of Social Service and a Master of Law and Social Policy from Bryn Mawr College. Van Oot resides in Kennett Square.

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