New organization makes promises to homeless families

CEDAR RAPIDS — A variety of voices, instruments and music will join together Friday in a concert to raise funds for Family Promise of Linn County.

 “Joyful Noises” will be held at 7 p.m. Friday at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, at the corner of Third Avenue and 14th Street SE.

Admission is free, but a goodwill offering is appreciated.

All proceeds will benefits Family Promise of Linn County, a developing non-profit organization dedicated to helping homeless families become self-sufficient.

“There has been in increasing number of homeless families in Linn County,” says Stefanie Munsterman-Robinson, Family Promise of Linn County’s board president. “In 2010, there was a 24 percent increase from 2009 of homeless people served in Linn County shelters; 40 percent of them were children.”

Munsterman-Robinson praises the shelters for their work, but says their rules can lead to the separation of families, as men are required to be in one space, and woman and children in another.

“Our purpose will focus on keeping families together during the transition process,” Munsterman-Robinson says.

The program is completely voluntary, with local congregations coming together to serve these families, offering meals, shelter, transportation and hope.

Four to six times per year, host congregations will provide overnight lodging, meals and hospitality for three to five families for one week, during which time volunteers will entertain children, help with homework and be a support for the parents.

“Whatever a family needs, that will be our focus,” Munsterman-Robinson says.

At the same time, families will work with local social service agencies to find housing, jobs and other services. The idea, Munsterman-Robinson says, is to provide a safe environment for the entire family as they work to achieve a home of their own.

Family Promise of Linn County is part of a national network with more than 5,000 congregations and 130,000 volunteers working together to help people in their community.

The national program was launched in Summit, N.J., in 1988. According to national figures, more than 720,000 men, women and children have been helped through Family Promise programs.

To date, 12 area congregations -- Family Promise of Linn County: St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Cedar Rapids; Temple Judah, Cedar Rapids; First Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids; Christ Church Presbyterian, Cedar Rapids; Echo Hill Presbyterian, Marion; St. Wenceslaus Church, Cedar Rapids; First Presbyterian Church, Cedar Rapids; Mount Zion Missionary Baptist, Cedar Rapids; First Presbyterian Church of Marion; Westminster Presbyterian, Cedar Rapids; First United Methodist Church, Marion; Gloria Dei Lutheran Church, Cedar Rapids -- have committed to Family Promise of Linn County.

“We are close to opening our doors to serve homeless families in Linn County,” Munsterman-Robinson says. “We are hopeful that the ‘Joyful Noises’ fundraiser will help us reach our financial goals that will allow us to hire an executive director and be on our way to making a difference in many lives.”

Individual musicians and groups schedule to perform include: The Three Altos; Deep Dish Divas; Marcia Hughes; Jenifer Phelan; Carillonneurs; Laurie Arbore Granner; Mina Arbore; St. Wenceslas Angels of Song; Robert Nassif; Slice of Jazz from Washington High School; Mount Zion Men’s Chorus; Young at Harp; Karen Pierce; A.J. Plummer; Randy Walton and Indigo.

There also will be a silent basket auction. A basket for each room in the home will be auctioned to the highest bidders.

Those unable to attend “Joyful Noises” can participate in Family Promise of Linn County’s Golf Tournament, to be held on June 26 at Hunters Ridge Golf Course, 2901 Hunters Ridge Road, in Marion.

Tee-off time is at noon, with the $400 per foursome charge covering green fees, cart rental, lunch and a beverage.

Register by sending information and payment to: Bill Stein; 219 Greenfield Street NE; Cedar Rapids, Iowa; 52402. Checks should be made payable to Family Promise of Linn County.

For more information about Family Promise, visit Familypromise.org and Familypromiseoflinncounty.org.

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