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Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich.The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.



When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families right in her own community in New Jersey, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their homeless neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity.


She approached the religious community. Congregations offered hospitality space within their buildings. The YMCA provided showers and a family Day Center. A car dealer discounted a van. The first interfaith hospitality network opened on October 27, 1986.


As word spread, more New Jersey congregations formed a second network. Other congregations were inspired to develop similar programs. In 1988, we formed the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to bring the program nationwide. In addition to shelter, meals, housing, and job-seeking support, our Affiliates began developing programs for transitional housing, childcare, and homelessness prevention. Nationally, we added programs like Just Neighbors and Family Mentoring.



Family Promise was awarded one of 21 Points of Light, out of a field of more than 4,500 nominees, by President and Barbara Bush, signifying Family Promise as one of the top volunteer agencies in the country. The award recognizes how one neighbor can help another, and calls upon the nation to take action in service to our fellow citizens.


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We changed our name, from the National Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise, to reflect our broad range of programs and our vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to the promise, in the sense of commitment, which communities make to families in need. But it also refers to the promise, the potential, inherent in every family.



Our affiliate started when Laurie Kari approached the community coalition after hearing about the Family Promise model.  We started in a local church office, and have since moved,  providing a private home-style setting for our guests.  In July 2019, Laurie retired.  The Day Center has since been named The Kari House in honor of our founding director.  We are currently the only family shelter in our community who allows the whole family to stay together.  This past year our staff has become trauma-informed, allowing for families to receive a more stabilizing, holistic approach of compassionate care.

2021:  H.O.P.E. House Navigation Center 

                                             (Housing, Outreach, Programs, Education)

Family Promise Mat-Su was gifted a building from Pioneer Christian Fellowship!  We are now able to provide a space for a computer lab, tutoring services, street outreach with showers, laundry, and a hot meal, and rentable space for up to 10 people for ZOOM meetings or gatherings in our commercial kitchen.  This is also the new location for our main office.  We are located at 2700 E. Broadview Avenue in Wasilla, AK.  Stop by for a tour and meet our amazing staff!  We might be on the phone or talking with a community member, but we will always welcome you.  Coffee is always on!

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Family Promise 25th Anniversary Retrospective - "Sharing Our Dream, Keeping Our Promise"
Family Promise

Family Promise 25th Anniversary Retrospective - "Sharing Our Dream, Keeping Our Promise"

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