First as the Interfaith Hospitality Network, later as Inter-Faith Housing Alliance, and now as Family Promise Montco PA, we have served vulnerable families in Montgomery County who are experiencing homelessness for more than 35 years.
Founder Lei Barry’s call to action was born of personal experience. In 1965, she and her two children became homeless and struggled for years before being able to access the resources they needed to improve their lives. This lived experience led Lei, along with other members of the Ambler area community, to launch a 24-hour emergency hotline to connect homeless families with community resources.
Within seven years, the program evolved to also provide emergency shelter, food, and crucial services to homeless families. Lei mobilized a coalition of faith-based organizations within the Montgomery County community to establish the Interfaith Hospitality Network. It was the first Pennsylvania affiliate and the fourth in the nation.
In 1995, we expanded once again to meet community needs by establishing Hope Gardens and took on the name Inter-Faith Housing Alliance to reflect this expansion. The long-term transitional housing program at Hope Gardens provides an opportunity for families to resolve their homelessness through intensive case management and life skills training while having access to safe, stable housing and support for basic needs.
The Food Pantry in Abington, which has served Montgomery County families in need since 1970, became a program of our organization in 2001. The pantry, located in Roslyn, last year assisted more than 2,100 individuals experiencing food insecurity.
In 2015, a generous gift from First Presbyterian Church of Ambler made possible the purchase of a home in Ambler Borough, now known as Hope Forest. This supportive housing program, the first of its kind in Montgomery County, aims to bridge the gap between transitional housing and total independence. Residents work toward paying fair market rent and receive light case management as they move toward self-sufficiency. We acquired a second property for the supportive housing program in 2021, thanks to the kindness of a longtime supporter. Hope on Fifth, located in Lansdale, accommodates two families.
In 2022, we adopted the name Family Promise Montco PA, to reflect our 30-plus year affiliation with Family Promise and to allow us to leverage Family Promise’s national profile to better serve the families in our programs. Although our name has changed, our mission remains the same. We are just as committed to working with the community – with people of all faiths, ages, races, ethnicities, and origins – to ensure that children and families can access the food, shelter, and comprehensive support they need to become self-sufficient. “Interfaith” may no longer be part of our name, but it is and will always be vital to who we are. And to communicate this commitment, our Family Promise logo will include the tagline: “An Interfaith Response to Homelessness and Hunger.”
Since her retirement from the Board of Inter-Faith in January 2012, Lei has continued to be a community-minded Montgomery County resident. She is still involved with our Resource Development and Golf Committees and remains as President Emerita of the Board.