EDITOR’S NOTE: Royal Scribe reporters visited with some of the people being helped by the organizations students interacted with on K-15. This is the story of one such family.
Crystal Presley breathes a sigh of relief and watches her three children. One sits at a computer doing homework while the other two chat together quietly on a couch, giggling occasionally.
This scene is exactly what one would expect from a family in a safe environment, and that is exactly what Family Promise aims to accomplish.
Family Promise is an organization that takes in families such as the Presleys, who have no home.
While most such organizations do not allow teenage boys like Joseph Presley to stay in the same place as his mother or sisters,
Family Promise’s main goal is to keep families intact and allow them to live as normally as possible while in the program.
This is accomplished through Family Promise’s unique approach to housing.
“This is the only place that would allow my husband and teenage son to stay in the same place as the girls and me,” Presley said.
The Presleys spend their days at the Family Promise center, a gutted church that now serves as a two-story living space.
The center is equipped with a kitchen, computers to aid in job searching and homework and several play spaces.
In the evening, they are housed by families who are part of a network of churches that partner with Family Promise and volunteer their houses as a place for families like the Presleys to spend the night.
This approach, as opposed to organizations that utilize dorm style housing, is what allows families to stay all together.
Crystal Presley said her family moved to Knoxville to help a relative.
She said without warning the relative asked them to leave. After searching and nearly giving up hope that their family would be able to stay together during this hard time, the Presleys heard about Family Promise through another organization called Homeward Bound.
They have now been with Family Promise for about four months. Crystal describes their time with the organization as “very normal.”
Everyday she spends her time homeschooling her three children while her husband spends the day at his painting job. After studying, her children spend their time playing with other children from some of the other families staying there as well.
“We’re one big family,” Crystal said of the other Family Promise tenants.
The Presleys story is one of success.
After spending four months with Family Promise, they are now preparing to move into a three bedroom, double wide trailer.
They hope to be moved in within a week and are excited to be able to live on their own again.
Their oldest daughter, Sonny, recently received her GED and has begun to look into colleges to attend.
Meanwhile, Joseph has just started his high school studies and the youngest daughter, Faith, is preparing for middle school.
After recounting their story, Crystal Presley sits back down on a couch as her children go back to studying and playing. She smiles with hope in her eyes as she watches her children.