Family Promise Brevard would bring churches, needy together
By Meagan McGone
BREVARD - Dick "Lovi" Lovisone, a Viera resident, is a 26-year veteran of the U.S. Army. And even though he carries the thick skin that one grows after fighting for freedom at extended lengths, the mention of the population of homeless children in Brevard brings him to tears.
"When I saw statistics regarding homeless data - both nationally and locally - I said, 'There has to be something that churches can do about this,'" Mr. Lovisone said.
So six years ago, Mr. Lovisone brought the national Family Promise organization to the church he belonged to near Orlando, where he resided at the time.
Family Promise is an organization that relies on the charity of churches to feed and house homeless families. Currently, the organization has 180 affiliates located in 41 states around the country, as well as Washington, D.C.
After moving to Brevard, which contains more than 1,304 homeless families, Mr. Lovisone realized that the area is in need of help, too.
"Right now, there are 2,475 children in Brevard who are homeless," he said. "And 1,099 are under the age of 5, while 1,376 are in school. So, is there a need for Family Promise of Brevard? Yes."
In order for an affiliate of the organization to serve homeless families locally, 13 area churches must agree to become host churches, which would provide food and shelter to four families, within its walls, four to five times per year.
Currently, Mr. Lovisone has 10 churches on board.
In addition to hosts for the families, Family Promise of Brevard requires professionals to serve on a nonprofit board; funding for supplies and costs of operation; and help with renovating the aspiring affiliate's day center, called Grace Family Center, a building donated by Grace Fellowship in Viera that will serve as the central facility for the local organization.
"We hope to be operational in 2013," Mr. Lovisone said. "We're praying like crazy that we make that goal, and we have a lot of people out there working hard to make that happen."
He said that many aspects of Family Promise inspired him to organize an affiliate in Brevard. Not only does the national organization maintain a 77 percent success rate for helping families gain independence and find homes in about nine weeks, it also stresses the importance of keeping the family unit intact.
"Most rescue missions take fathers and teenage sons and put in one place," Mr. Lovisone said. "And then they take mothers and daughters and put them in another place. It splits families up. We need to be keeping families together, in my opinion."
Mr. Lovisone said that above all other reasons, his main goal in launching Family Promise of Brevard is to help children.
"The thing that really drives me is the children," he said. "They aren't in control of this. They are victims. Kids shouldn't be forced to live homeless."
On Saturday, Nov. 10, at 8 a.m., Family Promise of Brevard will host a golf scramble to benefit homeless families at the Indian River Colony Club in Melbourne. To register, call (321) 255-1182, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To learn more about Family Promise of Brevard, email email@example.com. To donate, send funds to P.O. Box 100339, Palm Bay, 32910.