Mission & History

Mission

The Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network (RAIHN) is a not-for-profit, interfaith, culturally-competent organization of faith communities that helps homeless families achieve sustainable independence by supporting them with tailored services including shelter, food, personalized case management, and a diverse network of caring volunteers. 

We are a non-profit 501 (c)3 corporation established in Rochester New York, USA and registered with the New York State Charity Bureau under #20-39-38.

Interested in a more detailed description of our approach? View it here

History

In the years 2000 - 2001, three socially-minded members of three different Rochester faith communities were exchanging thoughts about a “new” model that allows faith communities to help homeless families without getting hopelessly overburdened by administrative tasks.  The three people were Nancy Frank, coordinator of Mission & Outreach at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Rod Frohman, Associate Pastor at Third Presbyterian Church, and Margie Mayson, Associate Pastor at Asbury First United Methodist Church.  As time went on, many other faith community volunteers and leaders stepped forward to help shape what would become RAIHN.  

The informal meetings morphed into organized monthly “General Meetings” to which representatives from the widest possible range of faith communities were invited, the first of which took place on June 11, 2002. The goal was to learn about the history, model and purpose of the National Interfaith Hospitality Network (NIHN), headquartered in New Jersey and founded in 1988, and discuss a process for the creation of a local network in Rochester. 

The NIHN (now Family Promise) addressed the problems that homeless families face when traditional shelters do not serve their needs well by tapping the resources and energies of faith communities.  By the early years of the 21st century, NIHN had developed some 90 subsidiaries all over the country. The basic concept was to make better use of the buildings, owned by faith communities of any persuasion, that sit mostly empty during the week.  In a town that hosts an IHN, a base station (Day Center) is set up where the families stay during the day and, with the help of a social worker, address the problem(s) that caused their homelessness.  In the evening they go to a faith community that gives them dinner, overnight sleeping quarters and breakfast.  In the morning, they return to the base station.   

After months of meetings and discussions and subsequent trainings from the National IHN, the Rochester Area Interfaith Hospitality Network, or RAIHN, opened its doors on April 26, 2004.  At that time, 13 congregations had committed to hosting families and 9 congregations had committed to providing volunteer and monetary support.

RAIHN has grown substantially since then and currently partners with 41 faith communities as host and support congregations, with many others providing moral and financial support.  Family Promise has grown to 187 affiliates in 42 states, serving over 50,000 people annually.  RAIHN’s annual budget is $200,000, and is funded by private donations from generous individuals, congregations, corporations and foundations.

RAIHN is recognized as a model of social justice and advocacy by social service providers and the community at large as the premier provider of services to families that have been temporarily displaced from their homes. We accomplish this role by achieving the highest levels of independence and lowest recidivism rates for our guest families. We do this through superior and recognized case management, through collaborative interfaith partnerships, through a rich and fulfilling volunteer network of faith communities, and through an unparalleled record of efficient investment of community resources. Our commitment to families first and to respecting diversity will continue to earn us a solid foundation of support from the Rochester community and will continue to hold us in the highest esteem of our guest families and caring volunteers.