To date, Family Promise has established 192 affiliates in 41 states, using the services of more than 160,000 volunteers and 5,000 congregations. Family Promise National is located in Summit, New Jersey, where the very first Family Promise began nearly three decades ago.
In 1982, Karen Olson was a marketing executive who developed promotional campaigns for consumer products. One morning, on her way to a meeting, she saw a homeless woman, someone she'd seen over and over again on her way to work.
She decided to buy a sandwich for the woman. The stranger accepted the sandwich but asked for something else - a moment to be heard, to be comforted, and to be considered as more than a mere statistic on a cold street corner.
Soon, Karen and her two young sons began frequent trips to New York to hand out sandwiches to the homeless. As she came to know some of the city's homeless people, she began to understand the profound loss and disconnection that homelessness causes. That understanding turned into an enduring commitment.
She turned to the religious community for help, convinced that there were many who shared her concern and that together they could do what they couldn't do alone. Within ten months, eleven area congregations came forward to provide hospitality space within their buildings. The local YMCA agreed to provide showers and a day center for families. A car dealer discounted a van.
On October 27, 1986, the first Family Promise, then known as Interfaith Hospitality Network, opened its doors.
Today, Family Promise National mobilizes more than 160,000 volunteers from coast to coast in it's commitment to building communities, strengthening lives.