BUFFALO, NY - In 2014, there were 991 homeless families headed by single mothers in Western New York. As Mother's Day approaches, there's a way you can be a Good Neighbor and help these moms in need.
Mornings are hectic for Easther Alfons and her five children. It's hard to get them all to sit around the table for breakfast. But for a time, that was the least of her worries.
Easther escaped the war-torn South Sudan in 2007. Her family first lived in Ohio and Minnesota, and three years ago they came to Buffalo to be closer to family. When they got here, however, they were homeless. An organization called Family Promise stepped in to help.
"We are a homeless shelter for families. We exist to keep homeless families together during their times of crisis," said Charlie LeFevre, Executive Director of Family Promise.
LeFevre and his staff first find temporary shelter for families though a network of 11 host congregations, and then they help to find them permanent housing and work.
Some of the families served by Family Promise are refugees like Easther, others have lost their jobs, or have fallen on hard times because of medical bills.
"This is the lowest point of their lives. They really don't have any other resources to turn to. They don't have any family to turn to. We are really sometimes the last place they can go," said LeFevre.
Family Promise found Easther and her children a temporary church shelter. While they stayed there for 7 weeks, Family Promise helped her find a permanent apartment in Buffalo's Parkside neighborhood, and a job as a cashier at Wegman's.
"They're very, very nice. They're very helpful. They'll help you to stand back on your feet," said Easther.
The funding for Family Promise is mostly reliant on individual donors. This Mother's Day, you're asked to join Family Promise of Western New York in recognizing and supporting homeless mothers.
For a small donation, you can pay tribute to a woman who has touched your life, and touch a homeless mom who needs your help in the process.
The money raised from this initiative will help fund a very special "Mother's Day Experience" for the mothers in their program, and will support the Family Promise homeless shelter program.
If you'd like to nominate your own Good Neighbor, e-mail Melissa.Holmes@wgrz.com or call 716-849-2216.