Our Day by Day Program Looks at the Whole Person

In our Day by Day substance use disorder and mental health recovery program, we believe that caring for the whole person is the most important part of recovery.
Our holistic approach to the treatment of co-occurring disorders has the ability to restore the mind, body, and spirit through such program components as:

  • Personalized Recovery Plans
  • Health & Wellness Programming
  • Psychotherapy
  • Chemical Health Assessments
  • Mental Health Evaluations
  • Life Skills Development
  • Dual Disorder Case Management
  • Individual, Group, and Family Counseling

Each aspect of our program is designed to help individuals in recovery and encourage life-long coping skills and community. Last year, Kyle, one of our counselors, wrote about how 41% of individuals living with mental illness will never receive help and how 90% of Americans living with substance use disorders will never receive treatment. This is because those individuals expect and feel judgement and isolation when they need help and community the most.
We’re trying to change that.

Our Community Garden

It’s amazing how healing a few minutes in the dirt can be. Studies have proven that gardening is good for your health beyond the obvious exercise benefits; it’s good for your brain.
Exercise itself can help your mental health, but so can exercising your green thumb.
Many mental illness and addiction treatment centers have started experimenting with
gardening as part of recovery, and this year, we did the same.
It isn’t part of our treatment plan, but we encouraged clients to join the groups that went to tend our community garden plot, and it made a difference.
A few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to join a group of gentlemen that are part of our Day by Day treatment program when they went to the garden. And in just an hour, I saw how much impact it had. Shoulders loosened, smiles emerged and, by the end, we were chatting like old friends.
Gardening is good for the soul, body and mind.
Recovery looks different for everyone. Sometimes it looks like in-patient rehab. Sometimes it looks like medication. Sometimes it looks like A.A.
Often, it looks like the courage to try again after relapse.
Our Day by Day program is part of what recovery looks like. By exploring new ways to heal the mind and body, we are helping more individuals reclaim their lives. And for some of them, that starts in a garden.
We are so grateful to the Gethsemane Episcopal Church for giving us a plot in their
community garden.

The Power of Empowerment: Tika’s Story

How many times have you been homeless? For most of us, that answer would be never. We have never experienced the fear of not knowing where we’ll sleep at night. We’ll never understand the shame of experiencing something that is surrounded by stigma.
Tika has experienced that three times. Three times she has found herself with no place to call home.
Tika could choose to be bitter because of what life continues to throw at her. Instead, she has chosen empowerment. By raising her voice, and the voices of those in similar situations, through the written word, Tika has created change. She started with a simple letter, which turned into a newsletter, which will, hopefully, someday turn into a newspaper. She wants this newspaper to be a resource for all individuals experiencing homelessness. Tika understands how hard it is to find the right resources when you don’t know where to look. She understands the fear of not knowing what kind of help will be available to her. She wants to take that fear away. By publishing a newspaper, Tika would provide something for men and women that would help them know that they are not alone, that what they are experiencing is not permanent or wrong.
The first time Tika found herself without a home, she had two young boys. She described that experience as far more frightening and embarrassing. First, because she had two children who were forced to experience homelessness with her. Second, because she didn’t know what her options were. Having never been homeless before, Tika did not know anything about the programs or resources available to her. She didn’t know where to go and she had no connections to other people in her new, if unwanted, community.
That’s why she cares so much about spreading knowledge. If she can help just a few people be less afraid of their situation, Tika will be happy. Her mission is just to provide the resource.
“Maybe they’ll just use it as a blanket. It doesn’t matter.”
What matters is that Tika is using her voice, her skills, her passion to create change. And because she has experienced, and is still experiencing, homelessness right along with them, people are willing to listen.
“We can speak for ourselves and we can let people know that ‘I’m not a number, I’m a person.’ We don’t want this to be our life, we don’t want to be stuck here, we don’t want to feel like we’re stuck here, we’re going to make it the best we can while we’re here.
Tika is in the midst of her third struggle with homelessness. As is it with so many individuals, homelessness doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t matter if you have a car. It doesn’t even always matter if you have a job. Sometimes, the cost of living is just too high. You lose your home.
Recently, Tika was denied SSI and disability support, something she had been counting on despite always believing a person should have a ‘plan B’. But she refuses to wallow in her disappointment. That is why she started the newsletter for other clients, and that’s why she will eventually start a newspaper.
The work we do, every moment spent providing food and housing and treatment for our neighbors, it all means so much less if we don’t also empower the men and women we work with. Tika saw a need, she realized that the people in her community, while being cared for, weren’t being empowered. By starting her newsletter and hopefully a streets newspaper, Tika is giving the power back to those from whom it has been taken. She is giving the voices back to the silent sufferers. Will you help us empower people like Tika, who is making far more change in the community that we could even dream up?

A Note from Todd

Todd joined House of Charity as our Chief Program Officer in February. Before that, he worked at Pride Institute for 11 years, the last five of which he served as the Director of Clinical Services.

I’ve been asked by many people “Why do you want to work at House of Charity?” The answer is deeply personal, and until now, I haven’t shared this with many people. During the summer of 2017, I received news that my younger sister’s cancer had returned after almost four years of remission. There was nothing else that could be done for her; she
needed to prepare for her death. Throughout her dying process, she demonstrated dignity, courage, integrity, and she never, ever gave up hope that she would beat her cancer. As a person in recovery from substance abuse and mental health issues, she never compromised her recovery even during this overwhelming time. On November 16, 2017, she passed quietly in the early morning with her two sons and our parents at her side.

When she passed, she had eight years of recovery and through her recovery journey, touched many, many lives. My sister’s journey inspired me to evaluate my own life. I knew that I needed to re-establish and renew my sense of meaning and purpose in all
areas of my life, including my vocation. My sister is truly the person that gave me the courage to “take a leap of faith” and leave my job of over 11 years where I was well
established.

“Feed those in need, house those experiencing homelessness and empower individuals to achieve independence.” The HOC mission statement resonated with me and profoundly moved me. It is a mission statement so basic, but filled with hope and the potential for changing lives. When human beings don’t have their basic needs met, life feels hostile, unsafe, and at times, hopeless. Life becomes a matter of survival. And I believe all people deserve not just to survive but to thrive. I knew I had to be a part of something bigger than myself, where I believed my skills and talents would be utilized for the good of
humankind.

My hopes and goals as a part of House of Charity are to continue to provide
outstanding, person-centered and trauma responsive services to the men and women we serve. House of Charity is an expert in the field and I want to build upon this expertise. I want the world to know who House of Charity is and what we do! This includes
increasing and expanding services, developing housing and finding creative ways to find housing for clients, and reaching more people who can benefit from involvement with House of Charity. Additionally, I want to continue to build collaborative relationships with our community so that we can all work together to affect change and inspire hope on an individual, organizational, community, and societal level. I am thrilled to be a part of the House of Charity family where hope and change is created and lived every day!

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. <https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/08/17/hunger-study-food/14195585/>.

“From Paycheck to Pantry: Hunger in Working America.” Feeding America. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 May 2017. <http://www.feedingamerica.org/hunger-in-america/our-research/hunger-in-working-america/>.

Free Public showers available at House of Charity.

Providing Public Showers

Public showerWe all know that a regular shower is important for maintaining good hygiene. People experiencing homelessness need regular hygiene, because they are consistently exposed to the elements. Those experiencing homelessness spend much of their time in public places, such as subways, parks, and buses. In these places, they encounter every kind of virus and germ. Regular bathing is necessary to avoid odors, infections, and germs.

Showers are important in a society where hygiene is required for job opportunities and other positive social interactions.

However, there are few places that offer a free public shower around the Twin Cities Metro area.

Public showers might be available in gyms or at the workplace. To use these facilities,  however, you need to be a paying member for the use. People who are experiencing homelessness are not likely to be able to afford joining such clubs and probably don’t have full-time jobs at companies where gyms are readily available. Obviously, one can’t depend on the shower at a job which one doesn’t have or at a club which one can’t afford to join. This all feeds into the circle of discouragement from which those experiencing homelessness find it almost impossible to break free. In order to keep up the level of hygiene that is necessary to enter the workforce, public showers must be available.

 

Those experiencing homelessness often are highly exposed to the street, dust, and smoke found in urban spaces. Those experiencing the lack of a permanent home don’t want to “look homeless.”  Most want to maintain proper hygiene and appearance so they do not stand out. Helping to provide them with the opportunity to get clean is a priority for us. This is why House of Charity provides a free public showers for anyone. The showers are open from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm, Monday through Friday.  People using the showers receive a towel and soap from House of Charity free of charge. Our free public showers are available at our main building at 510 South 8th Street in Minneapolis.

MAKE AN IN-KIND DONATION

For other ways to give, see our “Other Ways to Give” page for suggestions about making an in-kind donation of supplies for those using the public showers.

A New Start

Phillip, a devoted father and husband, moved with his wife and children from Chicago to Minneapolis on November 12, 2013, to try and provide a better life for all of them. Unfortunately, the move did not provide the opportunity, on its own, to change the family’s circumstances. While initially Phillip and his wife had a goal of moving to Duluth, financial circumstances forced them to stay in Minneapolis. Though he was committed to seeking out a better life for his family, alcohol and drug use interfered with Phillip’s efforts and eventually led to a domestic assault charge.

 

Following that charge, Phillip was required to attend treatment beginning in January of 2014. He was initially skeptical about the Day by Day program, but eventually became committed to the program.  When asked about the change, he explained, “Counselors and case workers will help you the first few times, after that, you have to help yourself.” He realized the importance of changing his habits in order to better himself and his family. While he was attending the program, he also lived in House of Charity’s transitional housing facility.

 

By mid-2014, Phillip had completed the court ordered treatment through the Day by Day program. When reflecting on his treatment, Phillip gives credit to his case worker and counselor for their genuine care and support, commenting that the staff at House of Charity, “really put things together to help support you,” and that support had previously been absent from his life since his parents had passed away. Following his completion of the Day by Day program, Phillip and his family were able to move back together into a permanent housing solution.

 

Since completing the program, Phillip has completed two programs through Urban Ventures. The eight-week programs focused on areas of Responsible Parenting and Healthy Relationships and Marriage.  Phillip received certification for these programs on June 18th and July 3rd, respectively. Additionally, he has voluntarily continued ongoing support through the Continuing Care program at House of Charity, which he completed on August 6th.

 

Since moving to Minneapolis, he has also become very actively involved in the Inner City Church of Minneapolis. Phillip was recently baptized and in addition to attending service with his family every Sunday, he also has begun volunteering with the church. In such a short time, Phillip has accomplished many things which show his determination; not only that, but he has also shown a greater commitment to raising his growing family.

 

When asked about how this journey affected his family, Phillip said “I had to get better for myself, and my kids can look up to me now.” Phillip’s counselor shared that during the time he was attending his continuing care program at House of Charity, he would sit at his kitchen table, and while his children completed their homework, he would complete his assignments, as well. He is grateful for the ability to spend more time with his family; prior to his treatment, he was often absent from the home.

 

Phillip is seeking the opportunity to work towards completing his GED and eventually a Culinary Arts degree. The family is also a current candidate for a new home with Habitat for Humanity. Phillip remains grateful for the support of House of Charity and its staff. He is an advocate of programs at House of Charity because, in his words, “It works!”  He gives recognition to his case manager and counselor for their commitment to him and the other clients. He explains: “They didn’t need me, I needed them” in order to succeed in positive life change.

Moving Forward with Determination and Gratitude: Jennifer’s Story

I wouldn’t be here today if it weren’t for House of Charity.  My family would have buried me two years ago—I would have frozen to death in my car.”

Jennifer had been living in her car for two years before finally asking for help from her primary care physician who referred her to House of Charity. About eight years ago, Jennifer suffered a horrible accident. She was out shopping for last-minute stocking stuffers for Christmas when a drunk driver sped through the Walgreens’ parking lot, striking her as she was walking to her car. She was crushed up against another car. After suffering severe trauma to her body, especially her back, Jennifer was released from the hospital after a few days and returned to work.

Jennifer worked as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) at two assisted-living facilities for the elderly, a field she loved and had been working in for 18 years. She continued to work her regular schedules at both jobs and ignored the constant pain she continued to experience since the accident.

A few years later, Jennifer slipped and fell on concrete, landing on her back. This new injury compounded with her previous injury that never healed forced Jennifer to have necessary back surgery. Jennifer was now disabled and could not work. With her limited disability income, she lost her home. She moved what furniture she could in to storage and began living in her car.

In the winter of 2012, Jennifer knew she needed help. Jennifer admits to being hesitant at first to ask for help and then even more so when it came time to actually set foot in House of Charity. She drove by and suddenly felt compelled to come in. She said that right off the bat, she was welcomed and treated with compassion and respect from House of Charity staff . There were not any openings for Jennifer right away, but a month later, the Intake Coordinator called her and notified her that there was a place for her if she still needed a place to stay. The next day, Jennifer moved in to House of Charity. She quickly moved from our transitional housing residence to her own apartment in our Housing First program. Jennifer began working with her Case Manager in our Transitional Housing Program and began taking Housing First classes right away. In the five-course series, she learned about rental leases and landlord/renter relations, budgeting, how to be a good neighbor, and the challenges of living alone. She was determined to get on her feet, get her own place, and start living life again. She appreciated her Case Manager’s open door policy and how she went to bat for her when it came time to find Jennifer an apartment. Jennifer was in our Transitional Housing Program for five months before moving on to our Housing First Program.

Jennifer has a great relationship with her Housing First Advocate. They meet weekly and since Jennifer can no longer drive, her Advocate also goes above and beyond by taking her to regular doctor’s appointments. Jennifer said that if she didn’t have the support of her Advocate along with her housing, she would not have been able to make it. Her Advocate also helps Jennifer deal with her mental health and self-esteem issues; she helps her find resources, with activities of daily living, and with goal-setting. Currently, Jennifer, with the support of her Housing First Advocate, is exploring where to go from here and how to change professions. Jennifer is devastated by the fact that she cannot physically perform the work that she enjoyed doing for so many years as a Certified Nursing Assistant. It has been difficult to figure out employment as Jennifer can neither sit nor stand for long periods of time and has to walk with a cane. Jennifer would like to continue to work in healthcare and is looking in to relative education and training options. She is currently coming up on her one year anniversary of being in her own apartment.

Jennifer remains grateful to House of Charity and optimistic for the future. The advice she gives to those in similar situations that she was in is to ask for help and remember that House of Charity doesn’t want you to fail.

“It can be so simple,” she says, “take the classes that they offer, meet with your Case Manager/Advocate, do the paperwork, and just follow the rules…you’ll be on your feet in no time.”

Instilling Hope One to Another

A Compilation of Stories & Experiences from Food Centre Guests

CJ: When CJ first came to the Food Centre she was homeless and looking for community resources. CJ knew that she needed to do something positive to get out of the lifestyle she was in, so she started school at MCTC and began volunteering at the Food Centre. CJ does anything and everything at the Food Centre, from greeting people to cleaning up, but she especially enjoys talking with others, “I just want to make the people who come here feel welcome and have hope in their lives.” CJ also makes sure that children and the disabled get their meals. Now, CJ is still in school, majoring in Addiction Counseling, has her own apartment, and volunteers and eats at the Food Centre on a regular basis. She is very appreciative of the support she has received from the Food Centre staff and hopes to further her involvement with House of Charity, perhaps as a Day by Day treatment program intern.

Daisy Rose: “Sounds like Love,” Daisy Rose says about the Food Centre. Sometimes the meal at the Food Centre is her only meal that day. “I’m comfortable with the amount of food and very thankful.” Daisy Rose was a nurse for 19 years, but her MS symptoms worsened and she could no longer work. When she lost her job in 2011, Daisy Rose spent her 401K on living and medical expenses. In addition to dining with us, she volunteers her time at the Food Centre; she likes everyone, knows people, and says it’s consistent with her upbringing: “we all work together.” She’s one of the regulars who helps Walter, a paraplegic guest, to eat lunch and notes that she is very grateful for House of Charity.

The Tiger Family- Julie, Nate, Daniel, & Baby: When Nate lost his job last spring in Duluth, the family was devastated financially and they quickly lost their apartment. They came to Burnsville to stay with family, but that was an alcoholic and abusive place where people directed their anger towards four year old Daniel. So, the family camped out this summer, in their van and area parks. They’ve had to resort to Nate staying at a men’s shelter while Julie and the kids live at a family shelter to save money and find jobs. Daniel likes the meat and cheeses at the Food Centre and most of all he loves meeting his friend Claire at the weekend brunch. Julie commented, “It’s great to be with other people who’ve been humbled by the world.” Julie is hopeful that by winter, both she and Nate will have jobs and a place to call home.

Two Minutes With…Michael Bennett, Director of Volunteer & Outreach Services

 

Mike has worked at House of Charity for over 10 years. His current title is Outreach and Volunteer Director, but he started as the Food Service Manager. Over the course of a decade, faces and programs have changed, but the need for assistance, sadly, is stronger than ever. “Ultimately, the goal of any agency which provides basic needs is to hang a sign that reads ‘closed, due to lack of customers’” Mike states.“If that sign were to be hung here, that would mean we don’t have people who need food, housing, or treatment. Sadly, we haven’t hung that sign in the ten years I have been here, nor the sixty years we have been an agency.”

When looking at ten years with one agency, the question of what keeps you coming back isn’t uncommon. “For me, it’s the tangibility.” Mike answered. “Take the Food Centre for example, you can look at the meal count and see that 422 people ate lunch today because of House of Charity. That food was made here and served here. For all we know, that was the only meal that someone will eat all day. And the same concept applies to Housing and Treatment too.”

While he has run the Food Centre in the past, Mike’s primary job function now is to be a voice in the community as to how House of Charity provides assistance to those in need. “I do a lot of presentations at businesses, civic groups, churches, and to our volunteers. I do my best to present realism to our stakeholders, and explain that the issues of homelessness, hunger, and need are as strong here in Minnesota as they are in Chicago or New York. The majority of us don’t want to acknowledge how close we are to needing assistance. But, it is hard for me to ignore reality when someone explains that they have only $80 for the month to buy food and personal items. They aren’t a composite story on the news. That person is here, in front of us as staff, and I try my best to relay that story to the groups I meet.”

At the end of his presentations, Mike uses a common closing; “I suggest, if nothing else, to say hello to people. By acknowledging someone’s humanity, simply saying hello, you may time stamp their week. For many of the people we serve, today feels a lot like last Tuesday. It may not seem like much, but the fact that a person didn’t walk past them as if they were a parking meter or a trash can might make their day, week or even longer. It’s really quite simple to do.”

Mike finishes by mentioning a meeting he was at a few months back. “We were asked what our legacy would be. As in, if we never came back to our position, what would we be remembered for? I hope mine would be that everyone matters. I give as much effort in getting to know someone in the meal line as I would to a CEO of a major corporation. I encourage everyone I meet to do the same. When a long-time volunteer asks ‘what happened to Bill, Eric, or Jane’ I know we are doing something right at HOC. One of our guests or our clients mattered enough for that volunteer to remember them, and ask about them. A connection was made. Often in our lives, we forget that we can positively impact people with our actions. It is pretty rewarding to see those positive interactions take place here every day.”

Helping Others Navigate out of Homelessness: Denise’s Story

Denise found herself homeless in 2006 when she was evicted for not paying the rent—she had used her money for drugs and alcohol, instead.  Over the course of the next six years, Denise struggled.  She lived in friends’ homes, emergency shelters, treatment centers, and sober housing. Unfortunately, she did not maintain her sobriety and was taken to detox on more than one occasion.  Again, she lost her housing.

Denise went to the Salvation Army, determined to get back on her feet. She got a full-time job as a telemarketer. Every day she would bring all of her belongings to work in bags and stick them under her desk. So as not to appear homeless, she pretended that she was planning to work out in the evenings and had brought her gear.  She would go back to the Salvation Army night after night.  This daily routine became stressful and Denise began drinking again.

Denise came to House of Charity on November 1, 2012.  She is moving into her own apartment at the end of March through our Housing First program.  Denise credits her case manager for helping her find housing.  She feared that her past would prevent anyone from renting to her.  In 2001, Denise was charged with a felony for driving under the influence, and was sentenced to house arrest and work release.  Although the felony was reduced to a misdemeanor three years later, Denise was afraid that landlords would not accept her once they did a background check. Denise’s case manager, Erin, made her feel that her obstacles were not insurmountable.  Denise was upfront with the landlords about what they would find in her background report and explained the circumstances.  Denise believes Erin did an amazing job as her case manager, but she stresses that you have to be proactive as a client, as well.

Denise completed treatment through House of Charity’s Day by Day program.  She trusted her counselor, Sarah, and found her very caring.  She provided the guidance Denise needed.  Now, Denise feels that she has put together a strong support system and a solid plan to help keep herself from relapsing.

Denise believes that her faith is the only reason she is here today.  In addition to staff at House of Charity, her support system includes three spiritual mentors, a group of friends she made through a drop-in women’s group at Central Lutheran Church, and a Christian Twelve Step program.

Her plan includes staying busy.  She currently sits on the Catholic Charities Opportunity Center Advisory Council and volunteers there twice a week as a “system navigator.”  When she was first homeless, Denise did not know where to turn.  Now, she has a passion for wanting to help people who are in the same situation.  She knows the value of taking one step at a time and identifying small attainable goals that can get you where you want to go.  One of Denise’s goals is to write and produce her own plays for a faith-based recovery theater.  To cope with growing up in a challenging home environment, Denise became the funny girl.  She defaulted to humor and she always wanted to act.

Denise attended William Woods University in Fulton, Missouri, and holds a BFA in Fine Arts. She spent her senior year in New York City studying and working for a talent agency. Following school, she acted in improvisational theater, including a murder mystery dinner theater for 10 years. She eventually became its director of operations. Denise feels like she is becoming de-mummified – unraveling to uncover the woman God intended her to be. She is firm in knowing that, now, she needs to take care of herself. She needs to forgive herself and not dwell on her past. Her advice to others is to recognize that life is full of choices and sometimes we make choices out of fear. She has learned that you have to face the fear. To conquer it, perhaps you have to believe in something bigger than yourself. At the end of the day, it’s not how you fall down that defines you, it’s how you get up. One of the best compliments Denise has received is when someone told her, “No matter what happens to you, you get up and dust yourself off!”

Thank You, In-Pulse CPR!

 

In-Pulse CPR donated CPR, First Aid, and Blood Borne Pathogen training to all of our staff!  We are so grateful to be able to continue to provide a safe and respectful environment here at House of Charity for our employees, clients, and guests.

Thank you, In-Pulse CPR!

Don’t be Afraid to Ask for Second Chances: Bethany’s Story

Don’t be afraid to ask for second chances. You may be afraid, but you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.”

On September 6th, House of Charity participated in Operation Recovery 2012: Erasing Stigmas, an event held on the campus of Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC) and sponsored by their student-led Addiction Counseling Club.

We were delighted to take part, especially since the invitation came from one of our former residents!

Bethany had lived at House of Charity for several months in 2010.  She regards House of Charity and her time here as a nice stepping stone.  Having housing and food allowed Bethany to stabilize her life, “I looked for work. I didn’t have to look for a safe place to live. I was fed here.”

As an undergraduate at Bethel University studying on a vocal scholarship, Bethany was viciously attacked while running on campus.  Soon afterward, she left the school. “I lost my faith,” Bethany stated simply.

Bethany began using drugs.  She was in a long-term relationship with a man who also used.  Together, they had four children, including one set of twins.  Because she was found to be using in the home, Bethany’s children were taken away.  To allow her children to move out of the foster care system, Bethany voluntarily gave custody to the children’s paternal grandmother, but kept her parental rights.  Bethany expected the grandmother to maintain communication between her and her children, but Bethany has not seen nor heard from them in nearly four years.  All of the cards and letters she has written to them have been returned.  Bethany is pursuing legal assistance, but it takes time and resources.  In the meantime, her children are growing older – now 11, 10, and 9 (the twins).

While she was using, Bethany broke the law for money.  As a result, Bethany was imprisoned in 2009.  She had a year of sobriety in prison.  Soon after she was released, she came to House of Charity.  Now, two years later, Bethany is taking classes at MCTC to become a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, with an emphasis on art therapy.  An artist herself, Bethany sells her work and has exhibited at the Fine Line Music Café.  Bethany knows firsthand how art can lead to healing. “Some of my worst moments in life have come through to make great paintings; I am a rape survivor and my piece ‘Holy Trinity’ came from that experience.”

She hopes to help others escape the pain and consequences of addiction.  When asked what advice she would give to current House of Charity residents, Bethany quickly responded, “Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Utilize your resources.  The more education you can get, the better, even if it’s one computer class.  Don’t be afraid to ask for second chances.  You may be afraid, but you may be surprised at what you can accomplish.”

Recovery Leads to Reunion: Lon’s Story

 

No one has ever helped me like this before.  No one has ever helped me like the people at House of Charity.”

House of Charity’s mission statement is: Feed those in need, house those experiencing homelessness, and empower individuals to achieve independence. Staff, volunteers, and donors play an important role in helping us carry out our mission on a daily basis.  The following story illustrates how the work we do has a meaningful and lasting impact on the people we serve.  Let’s start at the end:
Lon is living in his own apartment.
He has been awarded custody of his 15-month-old son.
He has been reconciled with his mother.
He has plans to go back to school.

Lon’s struggles with drugs and alcohol led him to prison. His two sons were taken from their mothers and placed in foster care while he was incarcerated. Lon and his mother stopped speaking because she was upset with his drug use and behavior.
When Lon was released from prison, he first went to another treatment program and then came to House of Charity. He lived in our transitional housing and participated in our Day by Day treatment program. He went to group sessions every day and established a particularly trusting relationship with his counselor, Maren. Maren was very supportive and worked with Lon’s parole officer as well as the child protection workers.

Lon graduated from the Day by Day program after 90 days. Through House of Charity’s Housing First program, Lon was able to move into his apartment. He is still going to support groups and meeting up with friends from House of Charity. He is now off parole. Lon appreciated his stay at House of Charity; he felt he had the support of all the counselors and his case manager. 

Lon’s oldest son (15) is now living with his mother in Wisconsin and Lon sees him regularly. Lon’s youngest son came to live with him in December. Lon’s mother will help Lon with child care when he goes back to school to learn small engine repair.

Lon says that if it weren’t for House of Charity, his sons still would be in foster care and he probably would be on the street. 
We are grateful to everyone who is interested in and supports our work with Lon and others in need.  
You have a large impact on our ability to feed, house, and empower.