Family Promise of Las Vegas

Family Promise of Las Vegas serves as a place where volunteers from all walks of life can come together “and be a great example of community good works.”[1]  Dozens of families experiencing homelessness—averaging 80 individuals each day—utilize the services offered by FPLV everyday. Family Promise of Las Vegas leverages a diverse network of the local faith communities to provide comprehensive services for low-income families. In so doing, Family Promise of Las Vegas seeks “to be a compassionate, community partnership, guiding homeless families to a place called home.”[2]

Family Promise of Las Vegas (formerly Interfaith Hospitality Network) began in 1996 as an affiliate of the nationwide Interfaith Hospitality Network. Karen Olson, a former marketing executive, and ten congregations in Union County, New Jersey founded the first Interfaith Hospitality Network in 1986. Today, the national organization boasts 177 affiliates in 41 states, as well as the District of Columbia, and provides services such as assistance with transitional and permanent housing, childcare, and family mentoring in addition to temporary shelter and meals. In 2003, Interfaith Hospitality Network changed its name to Family Promise “to reflect a broader range of programs and reaffirm its core commitment to helping families realize their own potential.”[3] Today, Interfaith Hospitality Network refers to the 5,000 congregations from diverse religious traditions that are involved in providing space and resources in these efforts. Family Promise of Las Vegas is one of two affiliates in the state of Nevada; the other is in Reno.

Family Promise of Las Vegas “seek[s] to engage the interfaith community in solutions for assisting homeless children and parents return to stable lives with living wage employment and affordable housing.”[4] Family Promise of Las Vegas’ local Interfaith Hospitality Network consists of twenty-three congregations that are able to host up to five families for a week at a time with ten additional supporting congregations that offer additional financial assistance and volunteers. The Las Vegas network includes Christian (both Protestant and Catholic) churches, several Jewish congregations, a mosque, and a Unitarian Universalist community. “Over 2,000 congregational volunteers have been trained to provide these services,” explains Terry Ruth Lindemann, Executive Director of Family Promise of Las Vegas. That translates to a “sum of all volunteer time and services [that] is around $200,000 per year.”[5]

Family Promise of Las Vegas offers resources with a more long-term focus that complements the work of the host congregations within the Interfaith Hospitality Network who meet a family’s immediate needs. Family Promise of Las Vegas fosters “IHN outgrowth programs, such as transitional housing, housing renovation, job training, health care services, childcare and literacy.”[6] Many of these outgrowth programs have been developed by members of the Interfaith Hospitality Network and include food banks, clothing drives, and outreach teams. Family Promise of Las Vegas also focuses on Family Mentoring and trains volunteers to work with at-risk families to prevent homelessness.

Outreach and education are also critical in the work of FPLV. Through the “Just Neighbors,” program Family Promise of Las Vegas works to raise awareness of poverty and homelessness in the area as “the first step in establishing community-based responses.” Other programs like Cardboard City raise funds for Family Promise of Las Vegas while raising awareness about homelessness. The program Voices United works with volunteers to advocate for public policy changes to alleviate poverty and homelessness. The Community Partnership for Opening Doors is a privately funded housing program designed to help families find permanent housing and assist them in achieving lasting independence by providing six months of sliding scale rental assistance. Funded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Promises to Keep program provides permanent housing for people and families with disabilities.

Family Promise of Las Vegas invites faith communities to live their values shoulder to shoulder “through compassionate good works.” These communities often partner for events and assist one other with hosting guests. Lindemann explains: “…sometimes Jewish volunteers have slept overnight in Mosques as hosts.  Sometimes Christians bring dinners to Synagogues.”[7]  While Christian, Jewish, and Muslim communities are the primary host congregations, other faith traditions support Family Promise of Las Vegas through additional events, including the annual interfaith Thanksgiving Service. According to Lindemann, Family Promise of Las Vegas’ model of service “does not focus on the faith of the volunteer” but instead emphasizes the importance of service to one’s neighbor. The result is that faith communities agree “to be living examples of their faith and to work with all other faiths that partner with [Family Promise]” toward the common goal of ending homelessness.[8]


[1] Email interview with Terry Ruth Lindemann, conducted by Megan Odell-Scott. October 2011.

[2] “Homepage” on Family Promise of Las Vegas website. Accessed October 26, 2011. < http://www.familypromiselv.com > 

[3] “History Page” on Family Promise website. Accessed October 26, 2011. < http://www.familypromise.org/history

[4] “Homepage” on Family Promise of Las Vegas website. Accessed October 26, 2011.  < http://www.familypromiselv.com > 

[5] Based on a rate of $10/hour. Email interview conducted by Megan Odell-Scott. 

[6] “How We Help” page on Family Promise of Las Vegas website. Accessed October 26, 2011.  < http://familypromiselv.com/HOW-WE-HELP.html

[7] Email interview with Terry Ruth Lindemann, conducted by Megan Odell-Scott. October 2011. 

[8] Email interview with Terry Ruth Lindemann, conducted by Megan Odell-Scott. October 2011. 

Family Promise of Las Vegas