Family Promise of Santa Clarita Valley raised approximately $10,000 from its second annual poker tournament and paint and sip event Friday, all for the purpose of providing resources and interim housing for homeless families.
More than 600 people came to the event, “All in for Family Promise,” at the Canyon Country Community Center. According to Kelly O’Keefe, events coordinator, the poker night was two events, one night and one purpose.
“The event was super successful,” O’Keefe said. “We had a room full of people doing like a pinot-paint experience with Out of the Box. Then on the other side, in the community center, we had poker taking place with fun features like a photo booth, we had beer and wine served that was donated and mocktails from our local Sober Cheetah girls.”
According to O’Keefe, Family Promise had many sponsorships for the event, a lot of people who just walked in, and many poker players who registered to play that same day.
“So many businesses around the SCV donated prizes for poker, so everyone on the final table got prizes,” she added.
But the event of the night was pinot and painting, she said. It was such a huge success they were over capacity and staff had to open new tables around the venue.
“Yeah, people loved it. The session was like your standard pinot-paint night. The artist was free-spirited, so if something else was speaking to you, you could paint that as well,” O’Keefe said.
According to O’Keefe, the money Family Promise raised will help in various ways such as paying for hotel or motel fees for families needing immediate assistance getting off the street, purchasing food and day-to-day items like blankets, period pads, toilet paper, and more.
That same night, Family Promise helped a family secure a hotel room, so they wouldn’t sleep on the streets, O’Keefe said.
“We have successful cases where people just need interim housing, or resources, so they can get a job and get back on their feet. It’s better than having yourself and kids sleep in the car in Santa Clarita, especially when it’s been snowing, raining and with these cold nights,” O’Keefe said.
The Rev. Roché Vermaak, executive director of development for Family Promise, said the first poker event they held happened in May 2019. Due to the coronavirus, the organization had to postpone until now.
But this gave staff the opportunity to diversify their audience and attract more women, and O’Keefe came up with the idea to host a pinot-paint night, too. In the end, Family Promise had twice as many painters as poker players.
He confirmed they were able to raise $10,000, but after expenses, the profit for the event is expected to be about $6,600. The money will be used for families in need, he said.
In a year, Family Promise spends between $20,000 to $30,000 just in motel and hotel space to get families off the street. By doing that, families can provide their kids with a safe place to sleep, eat a warm meal, take a shower and stay clean.
He noted Family Promise offers interim housing in Castaic for families that qualify for the program, and they offer rental assistance and more services. Vermaak said there are number of reasons why people fall into homelessness, but COVID-19 exacerbated situations across the board that would lead families to become homeless.
He said they are expecting data indicating more homelessness in the Santa Clarita Valley. A large population that Family Promise serves, he said, are single mothers.
“Family Promise deals with the unseen homelessness in Santa Clarita,” Vermaak said. “Our families, you will not see them on the street corners. Our families are not sleeping in the park. Our families do not present to us that way because there’s one fear that single mothers have – that their children will be taken away from them.”
Family homelessness in Santa Clarita is financial, he said. The No. 1 reason is that people don’t earn enough income, the hourly wage is too low, and rent is high, he added.
People can help Family Promise by donating to the organization with money, food, clothing, or their time. But another important way to help is to open your home to families in need, he said.
“How can people help Family Promise? Open the bedroom and rent out a bedroom to a family that we have prescreened that we’ve done a background check on, that we will drop this for you and rent out to a family and make the difference,” Vermaak said.