sustainable recovery for a long-time client of House of Charity

Community as Part of Recovery

written by Kyle Lipinski, Women’s Counselor and MICD Intern


As fall approaches, I find myself reflecting on the kindness I can expect from strangers as cold season looms nearer. When I have a cold, I can expect offers of cough drops, tissues, and advice. I will receive condolences and well-wishes. My coworkers will encourage me to stay home and take care of myself until the worst of my symptoms subside. A cold is an illness that most people feel comfortable supporting someone through. Their typically short duration, known cause, and familiar presence seem to breed a sense of empathy.
However, when the cause of illness is indeterminable, caused by trauma, or by genetics, that community often disappears. When illness is misunderstood, mislabeled, or a life-long series of recovery and relapses, support networks may never return.
When these support networks begin to waiver, or when an individual and their support network is pushed beyond their capacity to cope, the importance of treatment is highlighted. Over forty-three million Americans or 1 in 5 suffer from a mental illness, and only 41% of these individuals will receive treatment. Twenty million Americans are living with a substance use disorder, and up to 90% of them will not receive the treatment they need to recover. Individuals living with untreated mental health conditions and substance use disorders are at higher risk for chronic illness, homelessness and shortened life expectancies. But recovery is possible with comprehensive support.
In our Day by Day treatment programs, clients practice coping skills, learn how to advocate for themselves, and make strides towards creating a life worth living every day. But the most important thing that treatment provides individuals
who suffer from mental illness and chemical dependency is a sense of unconditional support. They may come into the treatment center alone, but they leave knowing they are now part of a larger community that shares the struggles they face daily. This comes from the helping professionals who can aid them in finding resources and developing new skill sets, and from peers. Day by Day brings together those in need with the people who can offer the support and empathy that they need to vastly improve their overall quality of life. Everyone just needs the chance and the opportunity to connect.

To learn more about our treatment programs, visit our website: resources/dependency-illness-treatment


National Alliance on Mental Illness . (n.d.). Mental Health by the Numbers . Retrieved August 23, 2017, from
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration . (n.d.). Co-occurring Disorders. Retrieved August 23, 2017, from

Make Your Voice Heard: Protect Our Homes

As President Trump and Congress continue to work toward finalizing the 2018 budget, the homeless, and those who advocate for the
homeless, look on in fear.
The proposed budget for 2018, which could go into effect on October 1, has cuts which would be devastating to people experiencing
homelessnes and hunger every day.
The proposed cuts would remove 6.2 billion dollars from the Housing and Urban Development section of funding.
This reduction also doesn’t speak well for the future, as the proposed spending speaks very clearly of the priorities of our current administration.
The budget is supposed to be approved on October 1, but it has been 20 years since the last budget was passed on schedule. We still have time to make a change!
Will you help us as we move to stop this change that will so severly effect those we are fighting to help? We need you to help as we tell our lawmakers and president why this change will damage our cities and cause setback in so much of the work we have already done. Join us.
Protect our homes.

Twitter: @Protect_Homes
Hashtags: #ProtectOurHomes #ProtectHousing

For more info, email Anna:

A Note from Nicole

Hello House of Charity Community!
My name is Nicole. I’m excited to be your Community Engagement Coordinator.
In my first few weeks, I’ve been struck by the love and devotion of everyone involved in making House of Charity successful. It is inspiring to work with volunteers and build
connections with organizations that envision the same future as House of Charity. I expect to witness powerful connections emerge during National Recovery Month and beyond.
As John Muir said, “when one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”
Generous acts by our community members like the work of a volunteer group, a donation, the fundraising done by a faith community, the assembling of hygiene kits by a family and many, many more, ALL find themselves attached to the
mission of feeding, housing and empowering those
experiencing homelessness to achieve independence.
I am beyond excited to meet, engage and recognize the work of this powerful
community without whom House of Charity could not exist. So I first want to start off by saying THANK YOU, to YOU, for your devotion to House of Charity. I cannot wait to connect with you.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
– Margaret Mead


Open Volunteer Times
// Will You Become Part of the Community?


Sunday, October 1st: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, October 14th: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, October 21st: 9 am – Noon
Sunday, October 22nd: 9 am – Noon
Monday, October 30th: 11:45 am – 1 pm


Thursday, November 2nd: 11:45 am – 1 pm
Sunday, November 5th: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, November 11th: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, November 18th: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, November 25th: 9 am- Noon
Monday, November 27th: 11:45 am – 1 pm


Sunday, December 3rd: 9 am – Noon
Wednesday, December 13th: 11:45 am – 1 pm
Saturday, December 16th: 9 am – Noon
Sunday, December 17th: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, December 23rd: 9 am – Noon
Sunday, December 24th: 9 am – Noon
Saturday, December 30th: 9 am – Noon

Climbing Out of Darkness: Jacqueline’s Story

Jacqueline is a woman who exudes joy, strength and determination. When you speak with her, her words are covered in kindness and her face is always filled with a smile. But it hasn’t always been that way. Almost ten years ago, Jacqueline’s mother died and her world crumbled. Jacqueline had given up her home and career to care for her mother, and when she died, Jacqueline lost not only a home, but also hope. In 2008, Jacqueline committed what she called a “white-collar crime.” She said that she allowed herself to be talked into doing it, first because it would help her maintain a level of comfort that she wasn’t willing to give up.Secondly, her mother’s death was so devastating, she didn’t care what happened to her.Her death plunged Jacqueline into a spiral of depression, hopelessness, and homelessness. She spent the next three years moving from couch to couch, with no real vision or mission; only knowing that someday, she would have to pay for her crime.On June 9th, 2011, everything changed. Jacqueline was encouraged by a friend to call House of Charity. She did, and was told they had a bed for her, she just had to get there. Jacqueline recalls a cab being sent to her because she had no money. “Life, for me, began on that day,” Jac queline reflects. And in many ways it did.That day in June almost six years ago was a turning point, it was Jacqueline’s opportunity to reclaim her life and happiness.Jacqueline spent her time at House of Charity completing the goals she had set with her case manager. She helped other residents, who were attending MCTC, with their class work; she had majored in journalism in college and she said it brought her joy and fulfillment to help others with something she was good at.While she stayed at House of Charity, Jacqueline was impatient to get her own home. But she knew that the consequences of her crime prevented her from attaining housing. So she turned herself in, served her time, and then came back to House of Charity, knowing that this time, she could complete all her goals.
On May 17 of this year, Jacqueline moved into an apartment. She has a job and volunteers at another non-profit called “From Me to You”, a faith-based organization that provides hope through clothing and other resources for women and their families. Just like helping other residents with the school brought her satisfaction, so does her volunteering. Jacqueline said that being able to help and encourage the women she encounters every day has helped her on her journey. It has allowed her to once again not only use her skills but also her wisdom and compassion.
A decade ago, Jacqueline had given up. Her mother, her rock, had died, leaving her without a home and without hope. Now, because of House of Charity and the safety it provided, Jacqueline has hope and a mission. She has vision, and nothing hanging over her. Her joy is infectious. Her smile brings peace and warmth. Jacqueline is a woman who has found life again.
“Some days, through this whole journey, I wanted to give up, but what keeps me going is my support network, which is comprised of my church and friends I have met, and knowing that God has blessed me with the drive and the tenacity to know that with patience and getting out everyday, because I haven’t just sat in here, success, recovery, and independence is possible if one is serious about what is important to them and what life has to offer.”

Housing and Treatment for Mental Health and Addiction Cannot Be Separated

If you were sick, could you get better by continuing to work or by not resting properly? If you broke a bone, would it ever mend if you kept using it? The answer is no.
So why is addiction and mental health treatment considered any different? Why is only one problem addressed while others are ignored? Why is a man or woman who is homeless and struggling with addiction expected to be completely clean before being considered for housing?

Why is a person’s mental health not considered paramount to the success of any kind of recovery?
But isn’t that where much of our world is now? Mental health is ignored while every other problem is medicated, talked about, and examined.
At House of Charity, we know that recovery is about the whole person. That’s why we treat not only addiction, but also mental health. The two go hand in hand, so we treat it as such.
Mental health is a person’s foundation. It is the source from which all other action comes. That is why we treat mental health and addiction together; because they are intertwined and true recovery isn’t possible without treating both.
More than half of Minnesota’s adult homeless population struggle with mental illness and 20 percent struggle with addiction.
That should tell you two things. First, we may have done a lot for homelessness and addiction already, but we still have a lot of work to do. Second, the issues of homelessness, mental illness, and addiction cannot be considered separate issues and treated as such any longer.
At House of Charity, we address all three issues. We understand the importance of co-occurring treatment and seek to offer all our clients every resource and form of support they need to become addiction-free and independent individuals. We treat mental health and addiction together; those two entities are never separated, nor should they ever be.
Many of our housing residents also attend treatment. When a person has a home, they have the safety and stability to really focus on recovery and healing. Take care of a person’s basic needs, and they’ll be ready to take care of other problems in their lives.
Mental health, addiction, and homelessness are often intertwined. They need to be treated together to truly be effective. And we do just that.

Smiling at independence

An Ultimate Goal: Independence

Smiling manAddicted to drugs and with his life falling apart,  Steve travelled from Chicago to Minneapolis to find a treatment program. A friend suggested and generously gifted Steve with a bus ticket, which began a decade of upward momentum toward independence. Steve recalls that the first thing he saw after getting to Minneapolis was the Metrodome. He climbed out of the bus, kissed the ground there, and has felt “blessed ever since.”

Need, poverty, and hunger often look differently than we expect.

Shortly after arriving here, Steve got a job as a laborer similar to jobs he’d held in Chicago. He was shocked to learn that here he would earn more than he had ever earned before. After a year’s stay at the Dorothy Day Center, a friend told him about the programs at House of Charity and he has been a part of the HOC organization ever since.

Setting Goals for Independence

When Steve walked through the doors at House of Charity, his goals were to get clean, get his own apartment, and achieve all the things he had been striving for but never had the resources to attain. From his start in the permanent supportive housing program, to the help of the Day by Day treatment program, and through his current time living in his own apartment—with a second-time help from House of Charity—Steve knows that all he has accomplished is because he had goals. It’s the mantra he keeps repeating: “I’ve got to have goals.”


Without goals, Steve says, not only he, but anyone who walks through the doors of House of Charity, will get stuck. With no vision or support, there is no chance for success and independence. Steve’s client advocate, Kassandra, has helped Steve look at both where he has come from and where he is going, to look towards complete addiction-free independence.


Since coming to Minnesota, Steve has rebuilt relationships with his friends and family, most importantly, with his daughter. Steve speaks with pride about his daughter and what she is doing. He especially notes how much she is like him in her determination and attitude.

An Advocate for HOC

Steve has also become an avid advocate for House of Charity. He repeatedly says that he has only good things to say about it. The organization gave him hope and changed his life. And he wants other people to have that hope as well.
“There’s a lot of things that I lost while I was on drugs, and I’ve gained every last one back because of House of Charity. They gave me my life back.” To Steve, the hallways and rooms of House of Charity feel like a second home.

Even though he has maintained his sobriety and no longer lives at HOC, Steve still visits HOC often. His life changed for the better at HOC— he found hope and found a home. Steve has worked hard, held a steady job, and still occasionally needs help from House of Charity.


Join us as we help individuals find their way to independence.

Pulled Up By the Bootstraps

Work Harder. Try Harder.
Do Better.

These clichéd stigmas follow those in poverty in American culture. The thought is that poor people just need to pull themselves out of poverty—by their bootstraps, or the loops sewn atop boots to help pull them on. But is pulling yourself up and out of poverty all by yourself possible? Spend an hour with a homeless veteran; walk in the shoes of a single mother; wait in a day-labor line all morning. You might realize a reality in poverty that is very different than what you recognize by worn-out catch phrases. [Check out our “Ask the Expert” video series, with Jennifer and Terry to gain the perspective of those affected by poverty and homelessness.]

Factors Contributing to Poverty

Many different factors contribute to poverty. Adverse experiences to children, such as abuse, neglect, or parental incarceration place that young life on a difficult path. Adults can also encounter this path of poverty due to lack of opportunity, personal chemical dependency and mental health issues. However, laziness and apathy are rarely the cause of poverty. Carmen Rios, an author and advocate who grew up the child of a single mother struggling with poverty, remembers distinctly how often people accused her mother of not working hard enough and being the “cause of our faulty economy.”

In this land of plenty and equality, often those that need the most are left out. Over half of the children in America live in homes where their parents struggle to make ends meet.

A disproportionate number of working adults work two jobs. Many are under- or unemployed, people who struggle just to pay their day-to-day living costs. Two people of identical age and education may not have equal opportunities for advancement simply because one of them might lack the resources to continue education or to obtain the required skills for a professional position. Rarely is the solution to poverty a simple case of people needing to work harder.

Be the Bootstraps that Pull Up Individuals

As a culture, we should help those who are struggling with poverty. Other than government support, there are few accessible or relevant resources that allow individuals to climb out of poverty. We must stop perpetuating the myth that a person living in poverty is lazy and the simple solution is to work harder; because that is not always possible.

At House of Charity, we don’t expect people experiencing hunger and homelessness to “pull themselves up by their bootstraps.” We partner with those individuals and provide them with resources to create their very own bootstraps. And, if needed, we’ll pull them up when their boots have no straps.


Food centre meal user statistics

The Importance of Our Food Centre

In order to learn about our guests at House of Charity’s Food Centre, we survey the men and women on a quarterly basis. We ask simple questions to gain basic information about the guests’ lives and reasons for coming for meals there. We wanted to share a bit about how frequently our guests utilize the Food Centre.


The good news:
The Food Centre provides over 125,000 meals each year to hungry people.

The sad news:
125,000 individuals each year need help with finding a good meal.


Lawrence, a guest who eats with us 6 times per week, frames up the importance of the Food Centre for his life. “You know, I eat here all the time. Ya’ll truly do keep people fed and keep us alive.”


Food Centre Numbers

Food centre meal user statistics

Click the image for close-up details of graphic in a new window.

You can see that the numbers in the above graphic support Lawrence’s statement. The first chart illustrates that over half of our guests depend on House of Charity for meals at least three times per week. Then, looking more closely, we can see that in any given month nearly 90% of our diners eat with us at least once per week on average.

In the second chart, you can see how long people have been utilizing our meal service. With roughly 70% of guests visiting us for at least a year, and almost a quarter of guests coming for more than six years, it is safe to say that the Food Centre plays an essential role in the lives of our guests.

For Follow-up

In House of Charity’s next newsletter, we will take a look at the data we have collected about the employment status of Food Centre guests, because quite a few guests have indicated that they use the Food Centre meal facility on their way to, or on their way back from, work.

Here are a few more articles about food shelf use and hunger among the employed.

DiBlasio, Natalie. “Hunger in America: 1 in 7 Rely on Food Banks.” USA Today. Gannett Satellite Information Network, 17 Aug. 2014. Web. 29 May 2017. <>.

“From Paycheck to Pantry: Hunger in Working America.” Feeding America. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2017. <>.