When you think about your home, what comes to mind?  

This holiday season we are requesting funds to help give families experiencing homelessness, a home. Even though we are using the imagery of doors, windows, bricks and shingles, we are NOT building an actual structure. Instead, we are  empowering families to build what happens inside that structure by providing an apartment shelter or rent relief so they can maintain their current home. We are helping them to “build” their home. Our end of the year campaign is giving a home- or HOME-GIVING! As we have been inviting congregations, businesses, civic groups, families and neighborhood groups to support this endeavor, it has caused me to reflect on what  has made my house a home. 

I grew up on a farm. My dad ran his mom’s farm until she passed away, when I was eight. As the youngest of nine children, there were a lot of us in that four bedroom house. Having seven sisters also meant that as the baby I received lots of attention. There are certain memories that define our home for me. Small things like we each had our own place at the dinner table, sledding down the barn hill in winter, tagging along when my sisters went on dates, (I am pretty sure my parents sent me as a “clueless chaperone.”)  playing basketball in the hayloft during winter, all 11 of us piling into a station wagon to go to Church on Sunday. The seating arrangements were: three kids in the back or “reverse seat” of four in the middle seat, and one in the middle between my parents. Of course I always had to sit on someone else’s lap.  There were no car seats and seat belts were not mandatory. 

Now, my home and family includes adult children coming and going, grandkids swimming in the pool, our dog Eliot and my daughter’s dog Randall barking and wrestling together, my son Andrew making up crazy songs with his niece and nephew singing them loudly and our eighteen month old grandson Iverson, “feeding” the dogs food from his tray and laughing hysterically. 

These memories really do not mean anything to anyone else.  These are memories of my home, my family, my people. At the same time I am sure your perception of home is rich and full of love just like mine. It is the people and relationships that make our houses a home. 

Those relationships and memories can be created when you do not have a home because love can happen anywhere, but it happens in a stress and worried filled  environment. How can a child feel safe sleeping in a car?  How does a child build trust when the very thing which can ground them is endlessly shifting or changing? If a family is lacking stability how does a child feel that sense of belonging?  

When we help a family find permanent housing we are doing more than giving them a place.  We are giving them a home. Family is the basis of our society and our societal structures are only as strong as that most basic building block. Therefore all of us have an interest in blunting the effects of family homelessness.   

Your support of Family Promise of Waukesha County is about more than providing shelter.  It is giving a home, it is supporting families, it is creating memories. This is the season of Home-Giving!