As many of you have heard, our founder, friend, and champion of the homeless, Nancy Woods, passed away on June 10, 2020. When one of her dear friends reached out and told me, I couldn’t help thinking that the world had lost someone very special. For her entire adult life, Nancy supported causes, and more importantly, people, who were marginalized by our society. In 1986, she was part of a small group of clergy and concerned citizens who recognized that they could help homeless men living on the street by opening up the doors of their congregations and providing overnight shelter and food. Thus, the Interreligious Fellowship for the Homeless, the predecessor of Family Promise, was born! A year later, she worked to create Fellowship House, a shelter for homeless families whose small salaries were not enough to cover life’s necessities.
Every evening for 30 years, after putting in a day’s work at the IRF offices, Nancy went to Englewood to make sure everything was going smoothly at the shelter. She would prepare rooms for new families and chat with those growing weary of their stay. She checked on the volunteers, stayed for dinner, and especially in her later years, dragged herself up the stairs of the shelter, and drove home. She was affectionately and respectfully “Ms. Nancy” to thousands of families–ever present, their biggest cheerleader and confidante.
Long before Black Lives Matter, Nancy was out there fighting for justice, equality, and peace. In an email to the Staff and Board, President Paul Shackford wrote about Nancy in this way:
“We will honor her best if we find ways to support the homeless and the hungry. And I wish we as a country had had the nerve to face the issue of racism 30 years ago. Nancy would have led the charge.”
So, let’s all go out and honor Nancy’s legacy in a way that would have made her proud. To read more about Nancy and her full life or make a donation to the Nancy Woods Memorial fund click here.
Sending heartfelt condolences to her family and to all who knew and loved her.