Several Mount Ellis Academy Church members slept overnight Oct. 3 in cardboard boxes in the city park as participants in the second annual Cardboard Box City in Bozeman, Mont.
Family Promise of Gallatin Valley, an interfaith hospitality network, designed the event to raise awareness of the plight for the homeless and to raise funds to help Family Promise continue to help families get back on their feet.
Nearly 100 people arrived in the park with refrigerator boxes, duct tape and tarps. They also decorated their boxes to compete for prizes for the most original box. People of all ages participated—from preschool to 80 years old.
For the “privilege” of sleeping in a box, participants paid $100 and also tried to raise more donations. Free pizza, cookies and hot drinks fed the one-night homeless, and a live local band entertained until bedtime. The event continues rain or shine, sleet or snow, just like actual homeless living in Montana, where October can bring almost any weather.
Featured speakers included several Family Promise guests who told their unique stories of misfortune and how the program gave them a hand. One guest said, "This program is the best thing that could have happened to us in our time of need. Thank you so much for the opportunity to meet such great people and the opportunity to see that there is help. There are people who are filled with God's love for other human beings who are in need and don't know what they are going to do next. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!"
Family Promise is a nonprofit national organization that goes beyond the immediate needs of food and shelter. In the Gallatin Valley, 20 churches of all denominations, including Seventh-day Adventist churches, provide the 775-volunteer base for the program.
A professional social worker follows the families to develop and implement a personal plan for success, ultimately assisting in their return to stable lives. More than 80 percent of families completing the 90-day program have successfully attained stable housing and employment.
If you would like to know more about this opportunity for ministry, go towww.familypromise.org.