Family Promise helps previously homeless families find back-to-school success

SPOKANE, Wash.– Cheyenne Martin’s desk is nestled between the front door and the living room in her apartment. The fourth grader is more than grateful for the simple setup. Just a few months ago, she and her father, Norman Martin, were living in a truck. They moved to Washington to stay with family. Then that setup went south, landing them both on the streets again. Norman said his daughter finished her spring classes online, which was a challenge as they bounced around.

“You don’t have internet. You feel like a schmuck,” Norman said.

The Martins tried various programs in Spokane until they ultimately landed with Family Promise of Spokane. The nonprofit housed them and helped them take the next steps toward their own stable housing. They moved into their own apartment in late August, just in time for Cheyenne to start online learning.

“I think it’s really kind,” Cheyenne said.

For the first time in four years, the Martins have a home to call their own.

“Family Promise, it was like our dream come true,” Norman said.

One barrier for families transitioning out of a shelter is access to technology, according to Family Promise of Spokane Executive Director Joe Ader. That’s why Family Promise of Spokane teamed up with Comcast to offer free internet and a computer to eligible families. The program was around before the pandemic, according to Ader, but given widespread online learning right now, it seems more important than ever.

“Internet is everything right now. Every single appointment you have right now is happening on the internet. Every school class is happening on the internet and so really, the internet has become the lifeline for all community services at this point,” Ader said. “And so, without it, I don’t know what our families would do.”

Ader said families are eligible for the program as they transition out of a Family Promise shelter. People can contact the group directly for more details.

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