A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

First parents accepted to Family Promise of NKY determined to keep blended family together


By Mark Hansel
NKyTribune managing editor

After more than 20 years helping families obtain shelter and stability, Family Promise of Northern Kentucky ceased operations in 2014.

Recently the organization reopened its doors and resumed its mission thanks to support from the community and the host churches that offer shelter to families in the program.

Brandon Vonbarger of Florence and his wife Cassondra took in four nieces and nephews to remove them from an unstable home. The couple, both 23, and the children are participating in the a Family Promise NKY church shelter program while they transition back to a home of their own.

Brandon Vonbarger of Florence and his wife Cassondra took in four nieces and nephews to remove them from an unstable home. The couple, both 23, and the children are participating in the a Family Promise NKY church shelter program while they transition back to a home of their own.

Family Promise Executive Director Amanda Speier said there is a common misconception that homeless people are responsible for their own plight, but that is not always the case.

Brandon and Cassondra Vornberger, the first couple accepted into Family Promise of Northern Kentucky, are living in shelter life because of their commitment to family.

Brandon is a ramp agent who works third shift at DHL and Cassondra works at a day care.

The four children in their care, two girls ages eight and nine, and two boys, ages three and six, are their nieces and nephews. The Vornbergers are both 23 years old.

“The father had some issues with child support and he has always struggled with addiction,” Brandon Vornberger said. “We had the boys and the girls were with another family member, then we got the girls. Now their dad can’t have anything to do with them because he hasn’t adhered to the standards the social worker has instituted for him, so it looks like we are going to have them permanently, and I’m fine with that.”

Despite their determination to keep the kids within the family, the Vornbergers soon found out that going from no kids to four in six months can be a serious financial burden.

“We were struggling because the kids didn’t have anything when they came into our lives,” Vornberger said.

A social worker told Vornberger that Family Promise would be opening in July and that it was shelter living that keeps families together.

The rotation schedule for the churches that operate as hosts for Family Promise. Ten churches host families that are looking to get back into a permanent residence.

The rotation schedule for the churches that operate as hosts for Family Promise. Ten churches host families that are looking to get back into a permanent residence.

“That’s exactly what we want, we don’t want to lose these kids to the system because then they are not going to be together,” he said. “They are family and I didn’t want to lose them at all if I could help it. We came in for an interview and they said we can help you get on your feet by providing everything we need.”

Speier said the Vornberger’s have definitely embraced their role as parents.

“These are the people we want to help,” Speier said. “Right now we are helping look at getting the kids into a better school system and we are looking at different options for housing.”

Vornberger knows he can provide for his new family, long-term and expects to raise all four of the children to adulthood. He recognizes that at such a young age, his life would be easier in many ways without four children but said he wouldn’t change a thing.

“I could have easily said ‘we can’t do it any more, you need to find another place for the kids,’” Vornberger said. “We can financially do it, but we didn’t have a head start, we had to provide everything right off the bat. I chose diapers and food versus paying my rent.”

The youngest boy now calls him dad and Cassondra mom; the others still call him Brandon.

Vornberger’s goal is to get into a three-bedroom house and get his family back on their feet, which will be soon. They have a meeting with the Boone County Housing Authority to get rental assistance. A family of six has to make a lot of money to be above the poverty line, so they are eligible.

“We’ve both got jobs and work full time, so it doesn’t take very long when people are there to help you,” Vornberger said. “We were the first family to come in here and we will be the first to leave.”

Contact Mark Hansel at mark.hansel@nkytribune.com


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2 Comments

  1. Drew Burkman says:

    So glad there is help out there. I know how hard life can be with kids and money. I am just so happy we live in a country that does do a lot to help people in need.

  2. deidre greathouse says:

    I’ve prayed day and night for my son to reach out for help, Thank you Family Promise.

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