(Family Promise video: “Our Comittment”)
The first Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) was founded 28 years ago in Union County, New Jersey as a response to suburban and rural homelessness, where opportunities for struggling families were sparse. The founder, Karen Olson, was a marketing executive who developed promotional campaigns for consumer products. One morning, on her way to a meeting, she saw a homeless woman, someone she’d seen over and over again on her way to work. She decided to buy a sandwich for the woman.
Soon, Karen and her two young sons began frequent trips to New York to hand out sandwiches to the homeless. As she came to know some of the city’s homeless people, she began to understand the profound loss and social disconnection that homelessness causes. That understanding turned into an enduring commitment. Karen turned to the religious community for support convinced that there were many who shared her concern and that together they could do what they couldn’t do alone. Within ten months, eleven area congregations came forward to provide hospitality space within their buildings and the first IHN (now known as Family Promise) was born.
The Philadelphia network was the 12th network to join and the first urban affiliate. PIHN welcomed its first guests in 1991, a family that had been living on the streets at Love Park in center city. Over the past two decades we have expanded our reach and our services, helping hundreds of families. We now have the invaluable support of over 1,500 volunteers, local business owners, and grant makers in delivering our mission.