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Updated: Sep 26, 2020

Now that we are a graduate family, you would think that life is perfect for us, right? Well - that is not exactly how things played out. In the excitement of meeting my goals and graduating from this program, somehow I got this idea in my head that once we graduated life would be perfect with no more problems or worries. I guess I forgot that life is still life with all its ups and downs.


This is the last part of our story I am going to share. I hope other families will read this so they can have an idea of what to expect.


The best way I can describe graduating from the program is like what I imagine jumping out of an airplane feels like. You have worked for it, prepared for it, and you want to do it. You have your parachute all ready to go and then - you jump. It is thrilling, exciting, and totally scary!


The weeks after moving into our own place were like we had “jumped” and were waiting for our parachute to open. It was exciting, for sure. And I was so proud. I could tell my kids were too. We loved our new place. It was all ours and we could afford it. But I don’t think any of us realized how accustomed to the safety and support of Family Promise we had become. Suddenly, we were alone and it felt like a free-fall. Like waiting for our parachute to open.


It was very overwhelming at first. I didn’t expect that. Suddenly, I was by myself and had to manage a car and a house and bills and getting the kids to school and preparing all the meals and my own job and, and -- whew. It was a lot to take on all at one time. Oscar was definitely stressed and acting out. Sophia (even though she loved her new bed) slept in my bed for the first few weeks. It was a bumpier transition than I was expecting.


Slowly but surely, the parachute did open. We all started to calm down and feel safe again. I was so glad I had my weekly meetings with the caseworker from Family Promise. She encouraged me so much in those first months. She helped me keep going even though I didn’t have it all together. She reminded me of my plan, my budget, and helped me put systems in place. It was reassuring to have someone help me plan the details of my life. I’d never had that before!


One of the hardest things for me is that I was depending on food from the Food Bank as part of my plan. But with school and work, it was really hard for me to actually get there and get what we needed. I ended up going over budget on food a few times. I felt so bad! I didn’t want to tell my caseworker that I had made a mistake. Even that ended up being a learning experience for me. Obviously I was going to make mistakes. The difference is now I had the support and I had the plans in place to get back on track.


Eventually, the kids settled into their new school. Our apartment started to feel like home. We made friends with some of our neighbors which was such a huge comfort. I was doing really well at my new job. I even got promoted! Here is what I didn’t expect. The promotion came with a bigger paycheck. A bigger paycheck meant that we qualified for fewer benefits. You would think that it would just work out - that the extra money would cover the loss of the benefits. That isn’t how it was, though. So my budget changed. I dipped into my savings each week to cover it.


Then, my car broke down. I did have enough left in savings to cover the repairs, but I had to use it all.


I’m not telling you all of this so that you pity me. I just want other families to know that graduating from the program doesn’t mean all your problems go away. Expenses still come up. I had to work through some of my embarrassment and shame about basically spending the last dollar that I had worked so hard to save. My caseworker reminded me that for the first time in my life, I had a plan. I actually did have the money to cover it. I would just have to work again to build my savings back up. I did it once and I could do it again. Even though I wasn’t expecting to spend it all, that is what it was there for.


We have been on our own now for almost a year. We’ve had our ups and downs. But we made it. I am so proud of myself and my family. I am forever grateful to Family Promise. They scooped us up when we were down and supported us to get back on our feet. I learned things that no one had ever taught me before. For the first time in my whole life, the future doesn’t seem so scary because I know I have the tools to make it. Even more important - I have the tools to teach my kids how to make it. Thank God for Family Promise.


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  • Family Promise

Simply put, this organization would not be what it is today without the efforts of Doy Cole.

Doy’s work with homeless people started in Houston about 1990 through his Church and also his involvement in the SEARCH homeless project in downtown Houston as well as the Harris County Homeless Coalition.

In 2005, he relocated to New Braunfels. He joined the Comal County Homeless Coalition and became a board member of TIPHER (The Institute for Public Health and Education Research). With the support of his church (New Braunfels Presbyterian), he committed to helping homeless people in New Braunfels.

Through TIPHER, Doy and others enabled the House of Hope free medical clinic, the Westside Community Center, the Soup Kitchen, and other services for the poor and homeless. The Homeless Coalition became the primary advocate for homeless people with agencies throughout the county working together to help homeless people. In the last two years, the Homeless Coalition opened the first-ever Cold Weather Shelter and then first-ever Winter Shelter in early 2020 which closed as COVID19 hit.

“I learned early there are many faces of homelessness. The face the public sees so often is the “chronic homeless person” living in the streets. While these are the most severe and in many ways the most heartbreaking, the stats (look them up) tell us that family homeless people including children are the largest group. Family Promise addresses homeless families with children.”

Family Promise came to Doy’s church and the HCCC in late 2011 to explore the idea of establishing a Family Promise affiliate in our area. Statistics gathered by HCCC and the two local, independent school districts indicated there were a surprising number of homeless children in our community. The abundance of churches provided the service platform to launch an effort to form an affiliate. A pastor at his church asked him to take a leadership role and in February 2012, Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels was launched. Sixteen months later, they opened their doors with Stacey Minor serving as the first Executive Director. Doy served on many committees, was involved in recruiting volunteers, securing host churches, and extremely involved with fundraising. After seven years of board service, including four as Board President and three as Treasurer Doy’s board limit term ended.

Since his retirement, Doy has committed much of his free time to continue his quest to help homeless families through TIPHER, HCCC, NB Housing Partners, and Family Promise.

Doy Cole is still very present at Family Promise. Current Executive Director, Sarah Dixon, keeps him in the loop and consults him on many issues. He maintains his involvement in the fundraising aspect of FPGNB. He started the Family Promise Endowment Fund that can be found through the New Braunfels Community Foundation.

“My heart is still with Family Promise and always will be. Homeless people are real people and deserve dignity.”

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  • Family Promise

I’ve been sharing my family’s tough story about how we lost it all, how we found Family Promise, and what it was like being in the program. Now I get to share the most exciting part of the story. Spoiler alert:


WE GRADUATED!!


It was hard, hard work. Believe me, when I tell you, I spent all of my extra energy for months working toward this goal. My kids were so supportive and encouraging when they could tell I was getting tired. My caseworker and all the volunteers and the other families in the program helped me so much - more than I could ever say. It is because of all the support, help, encouragement, prayers, and gifts that we are making a fresh start.


I want to explain what we had to do and the goals we had to meet to become graduates of Family Promise.


First, we had to get all of our “paperwork” in order. That means I had to pay off overdue bills and get my current bills up to date. I also had to request new birth certificates and social security cards for me and my kids. Somehow in all the chaos of the past year, I lost the box that had all of our important documents. We have to get those in order as part of the program.


Next, I had to put together a budget that works for my family. A budget was hard for me. I had to go back and change it so many times until it was right, and the numbers worked. At first, I was not honest about our monthly expenses. My caseworker helped me to get real about what I actually spend every month. She also helped me to remember the things that I left off of the budget. I also had to start a savings account where I could save up at least a few months of expenses. This was an essential part of the plan so that we wouldn’t find ourselves in this situation again. I wish so much someone would have taught me this a long time ago!


Some of the other requirements that we had to meet before graduating included a full-time job (which Family Promise helped me find) and childcare for when school is not in session (which I was able to pay for again thanks to my new job).


The next thing on my list was a tough one. I had to find an affordable place to live. The waitlist is very long for all of the affordable housing in New Braunfels. I did get on a couple of waitlists just as soon as we got to Family Promise, but I didn’t have much hope. Most of the regular apartments are out of my price range. I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. On the days I felt really down, it was usually because I could not imagine how this housing part would fall into place. One of the families that I became friends with didn’t graduate because they couldn’t find housing on their own. They did move in with one of their family members and are still doing well. Even though I know not every family graduates from Family Promise - some families just need a little bit of help and not the whole program - I was determined that graduating was something I wanted to accomplish. I knew that finding an affordable place to live would be the most challenging of all my goals.


The last major thing on my list was also a toughie. I had to secure reliable transportation. My kids thought that we could just ride in the Family Promise van forever! They had gotten so attached to the drivers who had been taking us around. The drivers are all so nice and had become like members of our family. While I loved our new friends, I was ready to have a car again, and I knew we needed one. I just didn’t know-how. I spent many evenings searching online for a used car I could afford without much luck.


What I am going to tell you next is going to make me cry. Bear with me. Right out of the clear blue sky, two miracles occurred.


First, when I had pretty much decided it just wasn’t going to happen, I got a call that an apartment had come available that was in my budget. We were going to have a place of our own. And, I was actually going to graduate! When I hung up the phone, I bawled. It still makes me cry to tell it. I felt so many emotions. Happy, proud, scared, overjoyed, relieved, and also - surprisingly - I felt really, really sad. My time at Family Promise was coming to an end. I was both ready and terrified about our next steps. On one hand, we would deeply miss the loving community that kept us safe and supported during such a scary time. It was like an oasis in our time of need. On the other hand, I was ready for the independence I had been working toward.



The next thing that happened still just blows my mind. A few days before we planned to move into our apartment, an extremely kind family who we have never met, for reasons that I still do not understand, donated their car to us. We were GIVEN a beautiful, working car that we named “Faith” because that is what carried us through. We thank God every day and ask Him to bless the family who helped us with a car. My new goal is to be in a position someday to be able to pay it forward.



Getting settled into our new place has been fun. It is still pretty sparse, but we were able to get a few things at Habitat for Humanity with vouchers. My kids love their new room. Every little piece that we add to our new lives is so special to us now. We appreciate it so much more. At our graduation party, one of the host churches gave us this awesome basket full of things we need for the new place.


It is all coming together and starting to feel like our home.


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Disclaimer: This story is based on the experiences of families experiencing homelessness both in our community and around the nation. The names used are fictitious but the circumstances faced are very real. We hope you will stay tuned for Part III next month to learn about a day in the life at Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels.


Family Promise of Greater New Braunfels

PO Box 311866, New Braunfels, TX 78131

(830) 214-0024

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