Women2Women - Winter 2018 - 8

Women2Know

Elise Chesson has
for

High Hopes

Family Promise of Berks County

By Susan Shelly

E

lise Chesson firmly believes that caring for those
who have the least is a strategy that, in the long run,
strengthens communities and makes everyone better off.

"Let's reach out to each other and work
together," she said. "At the end of the day, we
all need each other, and we all benefit when
everyone is doing well."
Since April, Chesson, 36, has served as
executive director of Family Promise of Berks
County, an organization founded in 2006
that works to help low-income families and
families who are without homes achieve
stability and independence.
Family Promise teams up with area congregations to provide living space and meals
for displaced families, and, when funding is
8 Women2Women Winter 2018

available, offers rent and utility assistance
to low-income families at risk of losing
their homes.
More recently, the organization through its
U-Turn program has addressed the growing
problem of teenagers and young adults who
do not have secure housing.
Along with case management services, the
program offers a drop-in for youth at the
Family Promise Day Center at 325 N. Fifth St.
on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m.,
during which visitors have access to information,
as well as showers, washers and dryers.

Family Promise receives about 100 calls
a year from liaisons in Berks County school
districts who are seeking help for a student
who is without a home.
"It's a significant problem, and it's not just
a city problem," Chesson said. "There are
students all around Berks County who don't
have a permanent home. There are many
people and organizations working on this
issue, but it's very challenging.
Her job is rewarding and yet often trying,
Chesson shared, as funding is always tight
and she deals constantly with a fragile



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