Homelessness showed up at the doors of the Trinity Baptist Church last fall.
“I was walking by the door and found a man sleeping at the church doorstep,” said Cecelia Fruik, ministry assistant at the church, who was showing the building to someone who wanted to use it for a meeting when she found him.
The man came to the church as a place of refuge. About a month later, she found another man sleeping outside the door.
“The need was right here at our doors and we had to do something,” Fruik said.
To help, Trinity Baptist Church members hosted three families in the Family Promise program from Feb. 23 through March 1.
Hunger and homelessness are increasing epidemics plaguing the U.S., striking Americans of every age, ethnicity and religion, and hitting urban and rural communities alike.
Family Promise brings homeless families together with area churches.
Trinity Baptist is the first church in western Bell County to participate in the program, which began in 2003. Thirteen churches that work on a rotating schedule to house homeless families while they look for housing and jobs.
“These are families who have just had some bad luck and they just need someone to help them,” said Mike Bergman, executive director of Family Promise.
Most families are referred to the program through schools, food pantries and the Department of Human Services.
The families stay at the church as guests for a week and church members provide an evening meal, activities and rooms to sleep.
In the morning, the families return to the Day Center in Temple.
While children are at school, parents are able to work with case managers to find housing and jobs before they return to the church in the evenings.
Ethel and Milton Mize, both retired Killeen Independent School District employees, are the Family Promise program coordinators at Trinity Baptist.
“There are many homeless children right here in KISD. Helping them is one more mission that is the right thing to do for our church and our community,” Milton Mize said.
Volunteers from the church coordinated meals, Bible study, activities and acted as overnight hosts for the families.
On the final night, the youth group held a pizza and movie night.
“We help them and they help others,” Ethel Mize said. “It’s what we do.”
Elizabeth Packer of Killeen and her daughter, Aida, 9, volunteered to help make dinner and stay overnight at the church as hosts.
“We love people and we are excited to help,” Elizabeth Packer said.
Pastor David Morgan said Trinity Baptist Church will help other churches in the community who want to get involved in the Family Promise program.
“If our church can do this, any church can do it,” Morgan said.
The average family stays in the Family Promise program for 62 days. In the two years Bergman has been with the program, 43 families were helped.
“This is about all of us coming together to help our community,” Bergman said.