Giving Back

Family Promise's 'Garden of Hope' Party Features Founder Olson and Program Graduate

Zion and Nichole, left, and Family Promise's Founder Karen Olson, right, will each share their stories at the 'Garden of Hope' Party.

SUMMIT, NJ - Family's Promise's first-ever 'Garden of Hope' Party will feature talks by the organization's founder, Karen Olson, and from a graduate guest who has published a book while in Famiily Promise's Union County shelter program. The event, set for May 10, from 12 - 2 p.m., will be held at Summit's Reeves-Reed Arboretum.

Family Promise is a Summit-based national nonprofit helping homeless and low-income families achieve financial independence.

“Karen’s story demonstrates the power of one person to make a difference in the lives of thousands of others. She turned a local solution to family homelessness into a national movement,” said Cara Bradshaw, Chief Impact Officer at Family Promise. “We believe in the power of every individual to make real change, and the guests at our garden event will have the opportunity to do just that— because one homeless child is too many.”

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Nichole, a graduate of the Family Promise program in Union County, was studying for her teaching degree and working full-time to support her son, Zion. Just six credits shy of graduating, she was laid off and had to leave school. She found a new job, but it couldn’t cover expenses. With the help of the Family Promise-Union County program, Nichole earned her substitute teaching certification, secured a living wage job, and found a new home.

“These two women embody the spirit of Family Promise: compassion, drive, and a commitment to providing children with a home and the chance to thrive,” Bradshaw said. “Because of what Karen started thirty years ago, Nichole and Zion were offered the life-changing resources for sustainable employment, education, and housing.

Family Promise is celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of its founding in Union County this year. Today, Family Promise comprises more than 200 Affiliates in 43 states and engages 180,000 volunteers nationwide, aiding more than 60,000 family members annually. Since inception, the organization has served more than 750,000 people; their holistic, community-based response delivering a comprehensive set of solutions through prevention, shelter, and stabilization programs nationwide. 

Family Promise was recently awarded Charity Navigator’s coveted 4-star rating for the fifth consecutive year, a top distinction from America’s largest independent charity evaluator. The rating demonstrates a commitment to accountability and transparency -- an honor only 9% of charities rated by Charity Navigator receive.

In addition to meeting Olson and Nichole, 'Garden of Hope' guests will be offered a tour of the Arboretum's gardens. To purchase tickets, or for more information, visit

Reeves-Reed Arboretum is located at 165 Hobart Avenue.


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