Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN)
There are over 180 Interfaith Hospitality Networks in 41 states in the US (see our national website, www.familypromise.org).
IHN of Burlington County is the only shelter in New Jersey’s largest county for families with employment income.
From June 1998 to October, 2015, IHN of Burlington County, NJ has served:
- 362 families
- 473 adults
- 729 children under the age of 18
Over 50% of IHN families move to permanent or transitional housing on exit from the program.
Families are provided with both day and night shelter, three meals a day, showers and toiletries, use of laundry facility, telephone, and case management services. No fee is ever charged to a guest or referring agency.
IHN collects and provides its guests with diapers, car seats, clothing, furniture, small appliances, etc. Former IHN families are eligible for holiday help (Thanksgiving baskets and Christmas gifts), thanks to generous individual and corporate donors.
IHN normally receives over 300 unduplicated calls each year from families seeking shelter.
IHN takes referrals from a large variety of sources: the Division of Youth and Family Services, the county Board of Social Services, Burlington County Community Action Program, Emergency Services of Catholic Charities, Contact, etc.
Interfaith Hospitality Network of Burlington County is a United Way agency.
Joys of IHN Volunteering
My phone rang yesterday and I was touched to hear one of our previous IHN guests on the line. She called to let me know how she and her son are doing. Sounding happy and settled, she caught me up on the details of her life. A teacher’s assistant in the Burlington County school district, she shared that she is living in a home in the Rancocas section of Mt. Laurel where she enjoys access to the village and its amenities. She is fond of her roommate and appreciates the commitment they have to each other.
She put her son on the phone…imagine that? Her teenage son actually wanted to talk to 50 something me. He told me that he is planning to join the junior ROTC program and is still interested in attending college to be an environmental teacher. He celebrated that he and his dog were reunited when he and his mom got housing after a couple of months in the IHN program. The loss of family pets is one of the unseen casualties of people who lose their homes.
This is IHN at its best. The intent of the program is to give people a couple of months to get back on their feet and to help them find suitable housing. Most of our guests are employed and have just run into hard luck. Volunteering as a dinner or overnight host, as a driver, cook or laundress for the IHN program at FUMC is both rewarding and humbling.
We finished our call and promised to have lunch together in a couple of weeks. Her son will be joining us and asked me to bring a deck of cards so he can challenge me to a game of Kings in the Corner, one of the activities we enjoyed together while he was a guest at FUMC.
In serving others, we set out to be a blessing but, inevitably, we are blessed.
IHN requires many hands
to host the families. Drivers, overnight hosts, home cooked meals are needed as well as folks to direct children’s activities, wash bed linens, clothes, towels and to set up and take down beds.
Guests are hosted at FUMC approximately every two to three months. Plan now to sign up to welcome and host these special families.
For more information about IHN at FUMC, contact Allan Hanlon (778.8980) or Candy Sell (234.3342).