I’m writing to recognize the work of Greater Portland Family Promise.

I first heard about Family Promise last year, when my church, Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist, considered becoming a host congregation.

Working with a group that helps homeless families sounded rewarding. I also liked that Family Promise builds an interfaith network to do this.

I had never thought much about families who are homeless, and I learned a lot in our training session. It made my heart heavy to think about how many children experience homelessness. I also had not realized how many families live on the edge, one emergency away from disaster.

It made me even more eager to help. I didn’t expect that volunteering would help me, too.

This was the first time I’d spent time with anyone homeless. I was a little nervous about it. But then I met our host family, a young couple with two adorable little girls. Any concern vanished.

I so enjoyed my time with them – preparing food, sharing meals, laughing and playing with the girls. It reminded me of the common threads of humanity between us all. I’ve been feeling like that thread is in short supply these days. Having it reaffirmed lifted my spirits. And I know it made a difference to those little girls and their parents to be in a welcoming, caring environment.

I thank the people at Greater Portland Family Promise for the opportunity to remember what connects us.

And I am so grateful to the members of my church and all the other host congregations for their efforts. It gives me a much-needed sense of hope to know that we can still come together across different beliefs to make a difference.

Erica Bartlett

Portland