Agency finds long-term housing for homeless families in the Mat-Su
For two years, the Slipher family have called an apartment complex in Wasilla home.
“We've got a play area, a doll who's trying to take a nap there,” 10-year-old Lucy pointed out.
She and her 5-year-old sister, Bethannie, share a room decorated almost head-to-toe in pink.
Their mom, Elizabeth, is happy to have her own room where she can hang up with few pictures she has of her girls when they were younger.
“Every time I look at them I feel a little sad because I lost so many pictures being homeless,” Elizabeth said.
She’s struggled with homelessness several times in her life. The first time when Elizabeth was 17. Her mom got injured and the whole family ended up on the street.
“Our one provider couldn’t help us so we had to scatter and separate,” Elizabeth explained.
They celebrated Lucy’s second birthday in a homeless shelter in Washington. Elizabeth moved her family to Alaska a few years ago with a plan to stay with friends.
That plan quickly fell through and Elizabeth and her girls were left homeless again.
“A Family Promise caught me, caught us and put our lives back together really quick,” Elizabeth said. “We moved here with nothing. No car, no clothes, no food, no friends, no family up here, nothing.”
Staff at A Family Promise Mat-Su help people like the Sliphers get out of homelessness. Even their facility doubles as a shelter; Executive Director Laurie Kari’s office also houses two bunk beds.
“When it's their room, when it's the guest's week here, I just pack up my computer and put away my papers,” Kari explained.
A Family Promise is an interfaith-based agency that depends on nine local churches to house families in a rotation. They're able to help about 100 people every year.
“The donation of volunteers and donated lodging comes to $225,000 a year of volunteer service. That's a major part of how this program works.” Kari said.
Case manager Ginger Bear provides parents with a four-month plan to self-sufficiency that includes finding a steady job so they’re able to pay their own rent. Staff give clients rides to the job center and help them fine-tune their resumes.
“If we can kind of help them and guide them into different mindsets then maybe they won't be finding themselves on the streets again. We want them to be successful families,” Bear said.
The Sliphers are an example of that success. Elizabeth works at a small grocery store; their house is furnished with goods donated by the community.
“It means a lot. It means I want to stay here for the next 20 years and have my children grow up with these people. This is where we want to be,” Elizabeth said.
A Family Promise Mat-Su is having it’s first ever Comfort Food and Radiothon fundraiser on Friday, February 16. That’s from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Church on the Rock in Wasilla. Tickets are $15 at the door.
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