TEMPLE, Texas — After years of dreaming big, Family Promise of Bell County opened the doors to their brand new Promise House on Wednesday. The organization aims to help families facing homelessness get back on their feet.
"We're just excited to celebrate the work that's taken a long time to get to this point and excited to serve a lot of kids and parents," Executive Director Rucker Preston said.
Family Promise of Bell County has been in Temple since 2004. For years they housed families facing homelessness in firehouses and churches. Now for the first time they have a home with seven bedrooms, individual bathrooms, a kitchen, and a living room.
Rebecca Grant is a former guest of Family Promise who attended the ribbon cutting to share her story. She and her daughter went through their program a few years ago.
"It was hard for me to reach out for help, but they always told me 'when you're ready we're here'," she told 25 News. "I didn't know what 'here' was so I was scared and intimidated, but once I stepped in the doors and started going through the process of admissions and learning what that was about, it was a safe space for me and my daughter."
Grant moved to Bell County in 2020. As the pandemic picked up and everywhere shut down, she found it difficult to stay afloat.
"I lost everything to the coronavirus, absolutely everything," she said. "I moved at the time right before everything shut down so I couldn't find a job here. I was in marketing at the time and I kept saying I'm going to get back into marketing, but the problem is no one was hiring because of the coronavirus."
She stayed at a local fire station as Family Promise helped her build a resume, find assistance she needed, and offered continued motivation.
"If I didn't have this program to help me, I wouldn't have made it," Grant said. "It's an honor to be here today and an honor to serve anyone who comes through this door to let them know there's definitely hope."
The organization now hopes to help even more families just like her's with the new Promise House.
"I think to take care of those who are most vulnerable in our community is what we're called to do and we see that in Bell County," Preston said. "Anyone who is homeless, it's important to be a neighbor and do whatever we can."
Family Promise of Bell County can help anyone with at least one child. Last year they housed 206 people who are now no longer without a home and say their capability to help has now drastically increased.
"So right now we have two families and after today we're going to open it up and have seven more families at one time," Preston said. "About 40 people can stay here at this building."
The organization also announced phase two of their expansion on Wednesday. That will include affordable housing for 8 families which will give them a chance to build their credit and rental history before moving out on their own. There's no timeline yet on when construction will begin on that.