By Emily West, Correspondent
The Bell County chapter of Family Promise, a nationwide homelessness outreach, held its fourth annual Bed Races at Belton United Methodist Church on Saturday, as a fundraiser for its continued efforts to address family homelessness in East Bell County. Teams from Texell Loans, Belton Lion’s Club, Temple Bible Church, Helping Hands Construction, Grace Community Primitive Baptist Church, Belton United Methodist Church, and Family Promise themselves all pushed beds on wheels down the racetrack in friendly sport and true servitude, eventually resulting in the championship title being won by the bed from Helping Hands Construction.
The event was conducted in heats after all of the teams paraded around the parking lot in competition for the People’s Choice Award, an additional fundraiser that took donations as votes. Bell County locals lined the parking lot’s side to watch as each of the entries flew down their lanes, first for the timed heats, then head-to-head in elimination rounds. The event also featured carnival-style children’s games such as a miniature putting green and a ball toss booth. Volunteers cooked and served hot dog lunches, the proceeds from which, along with those from the carnival game tickets, went toward Family Promise’s continued efforts to bring families out of homelessness in Bell County.
When approached for comment, Rebecca Deeken of one of the two teams from Temple Bible Church spoke proudly about the middle schoolers who devoted their Saturday morning to be there. “You have to be 18 to ride in the bed, so that’s why I’m here,” she laughed, going on to describe her excitement and willingness to be a part of the event. The junior high girls were elated to give their mornings in such a fun way: “We wanted to come out and support Family Promise. Our church really likes to do local outreach and to support the community wherever we can. It was so much fun, too!”
Family Promise is a nationwide volunteer organization that began in New Jersey in 1986, as an effort to address family homelessness the area. Today, the organization involves thousands of volunteers across many states, and has been an integral part of Bell County’s homeless ministry for several years, now. The organization’s direct goal is to help homeless families achieve stable independence. Family Promise is not an emergency shelter, but a program that works intensively with a small number of homeless families. As a part of the program, the families are housed by churches within the community, while a case manager works with the family to help them identify goals, especially housing. Qualifying families must have a dependent child under the age of 18 as well as a parent willing and able to work. Family Promise offers information for other programs of aid when it comes to those who struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, or those fleeing domestic violence. For more information, visit Family Promise’s offices at 1018 East Ave A in Temple, or call them at (254) 773-9980.