Leslie Zoll, a BlumShapiro Principal, is reaching out to help homeless families with children.
As former board members of the Church of Saint Mary’s in Newington, Connecticut, Leslie and co-founder Kara Russell created Family Promise of Central Connecticut, Inc. back in 2015. This 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation is Connecticut’s first affiliate of the national organization that uses places of worship to help families with children remain intact and become self-sufficient.
“Leslie’s work in helping create Family Promise shows her thoughtful and talented capacity to support people in need, but her biggest reward is the realization that she’s made a significant change in someone’s life,” said Joseph A. Kask, chief executive officer of BlumShapiro. “Leslie’s work reminds us that no matter how tough you think your life is, there is always someone who has to face challenges that are even tougher.”
Zoll was moved the first time she heard Russell talk about Family Promise. “I listened to Kara as well as the national affiliate leaders speak about this program and was captivated by the idea of bringing different congregations together for this specific cause,” said Zoll. “What a wonderful way to help children in need as well as build unity and teamwork within our own communities.”
A significant development of the organization was when it received a $10,000 donation from the Catalyst Fund of the Community Foundation of Greater New Britain in 2016. In June of this year, they cut the ribbon of its Family Promise Day Center at 40 Cornelius Way in New Britain. “It has been, and still is, a remarkable community endeavor,” said Zoll.
The Family Promise Day Center is a place where participant families spend the day looking for housing and employment. The Center also provides a stable address for families to use when sending out resumes and registering children for school. At the end of the day, families are picked up in a van and transported to a host congregation for the evening.
Family Promise of Central Connecticut, Inc. currently includes 11 host congregations of all denominations, 7 supporting congregations, more than 100 volunteers and an additional 350 people trained and ready to help homeless families.
Once a family is selected to participate in the program, they are transported to the initial hosting congregation. Church volunteers greet the family and help them settle into their private sleeping area. Volunteers and guests dine together in a family setting and engage in evening activities for children, which may include homework, crafts, tutoring, or games.
After a week’s stay with the first host congregation, volunteers help families move to another host congregation. Nine weeks is the average length of stay for a family in the program. Nearly 80 percent of guest families secure permanent or transitional housing before leaving Family Promise.
“Family Promise is for families who want to help themselves gain self-sufficiency,” said Zoll, who still serves the organization as a board member and treasurer. “And, it’s wonderful that so many congregations and people responded to Kara’s call, which is to help end child and family homelessness, one family at a time.”
For more information about Family Promise of Central Connecticut, visit www.fpcct.org.