A family is considered to be made up of people who live in the same house; a unit of parents and children.

A promise is a commitment by someone to do or not do something.

The nonprofit 501(c)(3) national organization, Family Promise, does what its name suggests ... it makes a promise to a family.

It says it will help homeless families in transition find shelter, meals and support services through a network of local congregations and it keeps that promise.

Karin Falcone, case manager for Family Promise of Monroe County, and Amy Banko, pastor of Faith United Methodist Church and a Family Promise board director gave a presentation to the Western Pocono Women's Club about the organization.

Falcone explained that there is a waiting list for them to help families because in the last 12-18 months, the homeless population in PA has exploded.

There are 13 local congregations in the network. Each one provides lodging, dinner and caring hospitality for one week, four to five times a year, and provides volunteers and funds. Since last June, Family Promise has helped 13 families. Only two were asked to leave because they did not comply with set guidelines.

"They must actively search for a job, applying for at least three a week, and is one of those guidelines," says Falcone.

She says that people in the program usually obtain jobs pretty quickly.

The guests rise early, attend workshops all day and children attend school.

The program helps them get county assistance and helps them look for affordable housing. A family is usually in the program about 57 days.

As one Family Promise mother told Falcone, "It's better than sleeping in a car."

The guests use the Monroe County Day Center, located at 1274 N. Ninth St., Stroudsburg, where a professional social worker provides case management services. The guests pursue employment, permanent housing, care for preschool children, shower and do laundry and build employment skills. The Family Promise van transports guests to and from the Day Center.

Family Promise relies heavily on their volunteers. They provide a wide range of services like cooking and serving meals, playing with children or helping them with homework, interacting with guest with respect and compassion, and provides overnight security as well as helping in the office.

"Do you know what it's like to have a bad day? These families have had a lot of bad days. To come to our church, to people who have cooked all day just for you, to lend a listening ear, to help your children with homework ... there is such gratitude from them," says Pastor Banko. "We are all connected and when one suffers, we all suffer. A little kindness goes a long way."

If you or your church would like to help families, or if you know a family in crisis, contact the Monroe County Family Promise at www.familypromisepa.com [1] or call 570-420-8589. Family Promise is also located in Carbon County. They can be reached at info@familypromisecarboncounty.com [2], (610) 379-4757 and is located at 167 South Third St Lehighton, PA 18235.

Two members of WPWC, Carolyn Andrews and Chris Reeder, says their respective churches are host churches for Family Promise.

"The experience of helping homeless families get back on their feet is one of the most rewarding things I've ever done," says Andrews.