A final letter from Rachel as our Executive Director...
Dear Friends of PIHN/Family Promise of Philadelphia,
Here’s some big news. As of August 31, 2022 after 21+ years I am announcing my retirement as Executive Director of Family Promise of Philadelphia (aka Philadelphia Interfaith Hospitality Network).
My work here has truly been a calling. I am so grateful to have worked with each of you as we have partnered to strengthen and stabilize housing insecure families by building relationships in our community.
I‘m ready to broaden my range of experiences, travel more, read the growing list of novels I never had time for, clean the house (a never-ending process), stay healthy and fit, and play with my adorable grandchildren. As Rabbi Hillel said in the 10th century “If not now, when? “I say, now it’s time.
Family Promise of Philadelphia will continue to strive for excellence under the capable leadership of Bob Byrne, PIHN’s Director of Operations, now stepping into the role of Interim Executive Director. Bob has been my trusted colleague and worked with our Board for the past decade. He is devoted to our mission, vision, values and the families we serve. Our entire team will support Bob as FPP moves through this transition period. I will also assist him through the end of 2022 and beyond, as needed.
During my years with (N)PIHN we grew from a tiny congregation-based, “boutique shelter” program in Northwest Philly to a coalition of congregations and community organizations providing emergency housing and direct aid, supportive services and homelessness prevention to families coming from 25 zip codes across the city!
We grew from sheltering 15-20 families a year to providing emergency and prevention services to nearly 1,037 families in 2021, along with $350,000 of direct aid and material support!
We went from years of writing letters and calling on City Hall to support safer shelters; to bringing children and families to testify before City Council in 2019, resulting in Philadelphia’s first funding for prevention; to testifying in spring of this year, which resulted in Council moving $15 million into rental assistance as of July 1, 2022.
I’m truly proud of everything we have accomplished, but there is SO much more to do! We are in an ever-changing landscape of poverty and homelessness in our city. As I step back, I ask myself
How are needs changing, and what unique role should we be playing?
What should we look like, and what should we be doing?
The families have always been our teachers. Their needs and aspirations to do more and do better have informed our evolving mission and helped shape every program and service we have developed since 1991. I may be going off payroll, but I’m not going away. I remain committed to our work – FPP’s work -- advocating for smart, compassionate policy and program solutions for families we serve, and from whom we continue to learn so much. Specifically, I look forward to co-chairing our 2023 FPP Advocacy Program as we work for lasting solutions that will raise up all of us together.
My heart is full of gratitude for all my years with NPIHN, PIHN and now FPP. I have learned so much from each and every one of you…families, congregations, clergy, volunteers, board members and coordinators, partner organizations and of course, our staff team. You have inspired me for all these years and will continue to do so into the future. You will always be part of my extended family and hold a valued place in my community.
May we move forward together as we live our lives with a sense of responsibility, and love for our neighbors!
Executive Director, Ret.
Co-Chair FPP Advocacy Program 2023
PS - I’m told there will be some type of retirement celebration event, likely in early 2023. Please keep your eyes open for details as they emerge this fall.