By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Information on Forsyth County homeless program available Saturday

CUMMING — Shoppers can help a local nonprofit gain traction as they peruse an iconic Cumming store’s fall sale.

Family Promise of Forsyth County will have an information table set up outside Parsons Gifts from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday.

The nonprofit is a local branch of a national organization that provides sustainability programs to homeless families with school-aged children.

Visitors can learn about upcoming fundraisers and how to support the group and, said Lu Leeds, chair of its recruitment committee. T-shirts will also be for sale at the booth.

Anyone who donates at least $5 to the nonprofit will receive a $5 gift card to Parsons.

According to Jamie Rife, homeless education liaison for the Forsyth County school system, 617 students met the federal definition of homelessness at some point throughout the 2014-15 school year.

“As of [Wednesday] evening, the school year [hadn’t] even technically started, [but] we’ve already identified 154 students,” Rife said. “These are newly identified students who are coming through central registration, students who have lost housing during the summer or students who are still living in a homeless situation and requalified from last year.”

The number starts at zero with the start of each school year and grows as their needs and situations become apparent. That number does not include the student’s parents or siblings too young or old to be enrolled in the district.

Currently, there is no shelter or organization in Forsyth that takes in entire families. There are places for women, boys and domestic violence victims, but a family must be split up if it suddenly cannot pay bills and is evicted.

School social workers often find temporary housing for students in neighboring counties, though that disrupts their ability to get to attend class or do homework because buses cannot pick them up.

In order to begin the program, 13 faith-based congregations must agree to take turns playing host to up to 14 individuals for one week at a time, providing meals and a communal place to sleep/

When students attend school during the day, everyone else — parents and younger siblings — would be taken to a day center to receive day care and work force development services.