Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich.The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.
1986: THE FIRST NETWORK
When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families right in her own community in New Jersey, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their homeless neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity.
She approached the religious community. Congregations offered hospitality space within their buildings. The YMCA provided showers and a family Day Center. A car dealer discounted a van. The first interfaith hospitality network opened on October 27, 1986.
1988: THE NETWORK GOES NATIONAL
As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.
1992: POINT OF LIGHT
Family Promise was awarded one of 21 Points of Light, out of a field of more than 4,500 nominees, by President and Barbara Bush, signifying Family Promise as one of the top volunteer agencies in the country. The award recognizes how one neighbor can help another, and calls upon the nation to take action in service to our fellow citizens.
2003: IHN OF ALBUQUERQUE OPENS
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Albuquerque began shelter services. With only six congregations to start a rotational shelter IHN Albuquerque began serving families. This meant that every seventh week a congregation hosted families. Shortly after the start , IHN Albuquerque grew to 12 congregations. Making a more realistic rotational model with congregations hosting once a quarter rather than every six weeks. At the time we were utilizing office space for our day center in the basement of First Congregational UCC on the Corner of Lomas and Girard.
2003: NATIONAL BECOMES FAMILY PROMISE
We changed our name, from the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise, to reflect our broad range of programs and our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, which communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.
2010: WE BECOME FAMILY PROMISE OF ALBUQUERQUE
We change our name, from Interfaith Hospitality Network of Albuquerque to Family Promise of Albuquerque, to reflect our affiliation with the national office and the broad range of programs aligned with our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, which communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.
2015: NEW DAY CENTER
We move our day center from the basement First Congregational UCC to Second Presbyterian Church at 808 Edith Blvd NE. This move allows us to be above ground where we were able to get better cell and internet signals so that families were able to have less challenges looking for employment, attending on line classes, and applying for amenities.
2021: WE PURCHASE OUR OWN BUILDING
Family Promise of Albuquerque turned 18 in 2021 and with that comes more responsibility. With the assistance of our donors and the Texas Methodist Foundation we were able to purchase our new Home at 1516 San Pedro Drive NE. This building will house our static site shelter and our day center. We will be able to double the number of families that are served in the shelter portion of our program. This will make a huge impact on the fastest growing population of homeless- families- in the Albuquerque and Rio Rancho Communities.