Karen Olson was rushing to a business meeting when she passed a homeless woman on the street. On impulse, Karen bought her a sandwich.The woman, Millie, accepted the sandwich but asked for something more — a chance to be heard. Karen stayed with Millie and listened. What she heard made her understand that homelessness brought profound feelings of diminished self-worth and disconnection from society. Soon after, Karen and her two sons began delivering lunches to homeless people on the streets of New York.
1986: THE FIRST NETWORK
When Karen learned that homelessness was affecting families in her own New Jersey community, she knew she had to do something. But this was much more than giving sandwiches. She brought together people in need and people who wanted to help. Existing community resources could provide shelter, meals, and housing. Volunteers could use their skills, knowledge, and compassion to help their neighbors find employment, reconnect with society, and restore their dignity after experiencing homelessness.
The first Interfaith Hospitality Network opened on October 27, 1986, with the help of multiple, local New Jersey congregations.
1988: INTERFAITH HOSPITALITY NETWORK AFFILIATE FOUNDED IN MORRIS COUNTY
In 1988, the National Interfaith Hospitality Network was founded to bring the program nationwide. Later that year, a second Affiliate, Interfaith Hospitality Network — now Family Promise of Morris County — was incorporated right here in Morris County, offering an Emergency Shelter program to families experiencing homelessness.
2003: WE BECAME FAMILY PROMISE OF MORRIS COUNTY
We changed our name from the Interfaith Hospitality Network to Family Promise of Morris County to reflect our broad range of programs and vision of ending family homelessness. The name refers to a promise, not only in the sense of commitment that communities make to families in need, but also in terms of the potential inherent in every family.
2009: A NEW SPACE
To continue meeting our community's increasing needs — especially during and after the Great Recession — Family Promise of Morris County moved into a bigger space. After over two decades, we began offering Outreach services in addition to our original Emergency Shelter program.
In over 30 years of existence, Family Promise of Morris County has expanded from a single Shelter program to offering just under ten programs. Encompassing the areas of Shelter, Rapid Rehousing & Diversion, Housing, and Outreach, our programs have transformed over time to best support both families and individuals. Our commitment to improving Morris County’s overall housing, economic, health and wellness outcomes is evident in our continual development of programming to best meet the needs of our community.