Sarah Carver knows what it’s like to be homeless. Having experienced it as a child, she understands the hardship but also knows what it’s like to be cared for and helped out of tough situations. Today, Carver is branch manager for Bank of Utah’s Ben Lomond branch (115 Washington Blvd., Ogden), and she is bringing her compassion and concern for the homeless into her local community. Carver, and many of her colleagues from the bank’s northern Utah branches, spend time volunteering with Family Promise of Ogden, a nonprofit shelter that assists families experiencing homelessness.
Family Promise is unique, offering temporary physical shelter and food but also providing training to help families become self-sufficient. Family Promise houses four families at a time at rotating locations in the Ogden area. In addition, Carver said Family Promise is a “prevention/diversion” program, assisting families who are currently in a home, but are being evicted or cannot afford to pay increasing rent prices. It helps them find a home before they become homeless. All families receive one-on-one counseling and employment assistance, and take financial literacy classes.
Carver, who is a member of the Family Promise of Ogden Board of Directors, helps teach the classes and has found it to be quite rewarding. “We try to help parents see they are doing a good job,” Carver said. “It’s tough, and we know parents are trying to be the best they can be.”
Volunteers stay at the rotating shelters (often at different churches in Ogden) during the evening. They play games with the families, cook and clean up from meals, and some stay overnight depending on what the needs are. Days are spent caring for children who aren’t yet in school and helping adults with employment, housing and financial literacy resources. A family typically stays in the program for 10-12 weeks.
Family Promise of Ogden has been open for six years, and Bank of Utah has been volunteering with the organization for most of that time. Carver has been with the group for three years and has enjoyed being on the board for one-and-a-half years. She said she learned the ropes from another Bank of Utah employee, former chief lending officer Taft Meyer, who retired in 2022. His passion for the homeless shelter ignited Carver’s love of the nonprofit.
Family Promise is a national organization, but Carver said each local group has its own identity and needs. She has been impressed by how volunteers from across Ogden work together and how other nonprofit groups collaborate to help the families succeed. Recently, 14 Bank of Utah employees volunteered over the course of a week, with two people per night staying from 5-10 p.m. to help with dinner and encourage the families. Carver delivered dinner, sack lunches and breakfasts every day.
Family Promise of Ogden Executive Director Raquel Da Silva said Bank of Utah’s contributions have made a large difference for Family Promise. “We love Bank of Utah. They gather volunteers and provide night shelter … it’s no small undertaking,” she said.
Carver has enjoyed working with Da Silva because she also has experienced homelessness and has a deep understanding of those who are in the shelter. Carver noted that Family Promise works hard to help families break the cycle of poverty. “These aren’t just families staying in a facility. It is more than that,” Carver said.