Since 2015, Family Promise of Ozaukee County has helped those who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. Throughout the years, the organization adjusted its program delivery model and by way of a major federal grant and generous community support, the nonprofit opened Ozaukee County’s first homeless shelter.
Family Promise of Ozaukee County is one of 200 affiliates of the leading national organization on preventing and ending family homelessness, Family Promise. As an affiliate, its programming involves prevention services before families become homeless, shelter to help homeless families access housing, and stabilization programs once families have secured housing. The majority of its work is spent helping people remain in their homes by providing access to rent assistance, section 8 vouchers and other forms of state and local assistance. Family Promise also helps connect those in need to access to energy assistance, food share, job search assistance, credit repair, educational resources, and many other resources available in the community.
“Throughout the years, we have received an outpouring of support from the community, said Cori Guerin, CEO of Family Promise of Ozaukee County. “We do what we can to help those in greatest need, and while our organization does make an impact, last year we received 700 calls for help. The need is immense.”
In its beginning, Family Promise of Ozaukee County began providing shelter only for families. The organization worked closely with 17 local churches and weekly each church housed a family. Volunteers provided the family transportation to school and work and daily meals. This program model bluntly came to a halt when the COVID pandemic closed churches. It was at this time that a local hotel owner, who was a church member, contacted Family Promise and offered hotel rooms at a reduced rate.
“We had 10 rooms at the hotel, and through this model, we were able to start serving individuals in addition to families,” said Guerin.
This model allowed Family Promise of Ozaukee County to continue its mission through the pandemic. Even at reduced rates, the nonprofit was paying nearly $14,000 per month, which was unsustainable long-term. The organization reviewed its model and set its sights on owning a facility that would serve as an emergency shelter and resource hub for clients and the community.
In 2022, Family Promise of Ozaukee County received a $2.3 million community development block grant. This grant, along with the support of the community and municipality, enabled the organization to purchase a vacant daycare facility, repurpose it and build an addition. The final 7,500 square-foot facility has eight suites to house four families and four single men and women as well as the space needed to deliver basic needs. Portlight Emergency Shelter is the first homeless shelter in Ozaukee County.
In addition to the housing suites, the facility also has a large community gathering room.
Seventy-five percent of the work we do is in preventing homelessness said Guerin. The community gathering room will be used to bring in people from the community who want to share their knowledge and expertise on topics such as financial literacy. Family Promise also plans to host job fairs and other training events.
About Cori Guerin, CEO of Family Promise of Ozaukee County
Prior to taking on her leadership role at Family Promise, Cori worked as a Director of Donor Relations at Concordia University. She worked with major donors, foundations, corporate partners and others to create a robust portfolio of fundraising experience. While at Concordia she obtained her MBA with a concentration in Strategic Communications and Public Relations. She is currently in pursuit of her Certifed Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification and hopes to obtain it by the end of 2023.