Making room for homeles families: Five minutes with Lisa Donnot

2014-05-01T00:00:00Z 2014-05-01T09:31:21Z Making room for homeles families: Five minutes with Lisa DonnotBy TOM HOWARD The Billings Gazette

Lisa Donnot took over as executive director of Family Promise of Yellowstone County, the organization formerly known as Interfaith Hospitality Network, last December.

Donnot is excited to be part of an agency that has played a significant role in helping homeless families get a new start. Here is her story:

You have some pretty extensive background in human services and law enforcement. In what ways have you used that background since coming to Family Promise?

Honestly, I feel all of my past experience has been preparing for this specific position. I’ve always had a heart for service and a desire to make a difference. Throughout my career in criminal justice, I have seen many of my clients begin to transform their lives. By working with Family Promise I get to see lives changing over a period of time. We have an amazing team and I see us doing great things together.

Many congregations participate as host churches for Family Promise. How many volunteers are involved in this effort?

We currently have 25 local congregations in our network helping us by providing homeless families with full bellies, a warm place to sleep, mentoring, compassion, and hope. On any given week, we need at least 27 volunteers to keep this program running smoothly. Each congregation hosts the families four times per year and the volunteers also make themselves available by driving families, working in the day center, donations, and program support, it truly takes a community.

What’s the most significant thing that Billings residents should know about the work that Family Promise does?

We help homeless families become whole from the inside out. Through intensive case management, parenting classes, life skills groups, nutrition training, budgeting, transitional housing, aftercare services, and referrals to other local agencies we build communities and strengthen lives while helping homeless families achieve and sustain independence.

Family Promise has played an important role in addressing the issue of homelessness in Billings. What else is needed to address this problem?

Every day I see the Billings community coming together, educating themselves about the issue, and raising awareness. I wholeheartedly believe that progress is being made. One area that we all struggle with is the lack of affordable housing in the Billings area.

Your efforts include transitional housing. How is that going?

We currently operate four transitional housing apartments. Last year we were fortunate enough to acquire the Galles building in downtown Billings for a new day center to expand services and additional affordable housing units. Our board of directors and the day center/transitional housing committee are working diligently to complete the initial planning of this project. This is a very exciting time for all of us at Family Promise and we should be ready to start our new venture within the next few months. We’ll keep you updated.

Copyright 2014 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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