Eric’s Story

A New Foundation // Eric’s Story
“The virus has reduced a lot of the meetings around to nothing so it’s more difficult on addicted people currently.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted everyone’s lives and made life in general more difficult. But our communities experiencing substance use disorders and homelessness are the hardest hit.
One of those individuals is Eric, a current resident at our new Park7 building. We are so excited to introduce you to him because he represents years of dreaming, planning, fundraising, and construction and we’re finally here! We’ve made it to the point of experiencing the privilege of being a part of another story of an unhoused neighbor finding a home.
Eric is originally from Florida. He has an education in fitness and instruction but a severe back injury and several surgical attempts to repair the damage have left him disabled and unable to work in the profession he loves.
Illegal prescriptions from his doctor sent Eric down a path of addiction and eventually homelessness.
Eventually, he was able to get the help he needed and attend treatment. He spent several years moving between shelters and small circles of people he knew who lived on the street. He finally found some stability and the resources he needed when he moved to the Bloomington emergency shelter hotel. A connection with the veteran’s services brought him to House of Charity’s Park7 and this is how Eric describes his first visit to our building:
“I remember when I got here, Tommy the house manager, took me around and I couldn’t believe all the stuff they had prepared for me. I asked Tommy if I could have a minute in private in there and I went right over by that bed and said a prayer on my hands and knees, you know, thanking the Lord that he had given me such a blessing, I didn’t want to forget Him.”
Eric was the 16th individual to move in to Park7 and now we’ve filled more than half of the 61 units.
He’s now looking at taking some classes that will allow him to find employment.
We are so glad that Park7 is now the foundation of safety and security Eric needed to begin healing and growing. And we’re so glad you were a part of that.

Because of Injustice: Louis’s Story

“You have to survive the rough to get where you want to be.”
Louis has worked hard to overcome obstacles that seem almost insurmountable. But now, he owns a restaurant and is looking toward opening more.
Four years ago, a series of events seemingly conspired to destroy Louis.
First, his partner of eight years ended their relationship, leaving Louis homeless without warning. He spent two months living in his car until another program recommended him to House of Charity.
“I do have a felony record so it was kind of hard to get this place but the landlord and my advocate said ‘we’re going to give you a second chance.’ That just meant the world to me because you know, as a felon, I already can’t get places on my own.
So that was just right on time, I’m in a place, loving it, everything is great, start building my life. And then, boom…”
His cousin was killed; a man named Philando Castile.
In the next days, he watched, amazed, as his community and the world rallied around them.
A few days later, after taking his kids to a pool and staying at their mom’s house, he was arrested while driving home.
The charges? Throwing molotov cocktails at police the night before. Louis was shocked; he didn’t even know what a molotov cocktail was.
For two years, he fought the charges, knowing that if he lost, he would face a 20-year prison sentence. That’s how he met the woman he calls his guardian angel, Sarah.
She helped him get the charges dropped and figure out what to do next after losing everything because of a false arrest.
One day while they were chatting, she said he needed a job and asked how he felt about starting a vegan food truck.
In the two years since Sarah asked that question, Louis served plant-based pop-ups that sold out in a few hours, purchased a brick-and-mortar building on Lake Street and became the sole owner of a plant-based soul-food making restaurant called Trio Plant-Based.
Trio is a successful business but they are still just scraping by.
“House of Charity is a blessing to me still at this moment because I don’t get paid. I work seven days a week and I don’t get paid but I’m fine with that only because I know where this place is going.
Every person person at House of Charity is a blessing because a lot of times when people are in this program, they’re alone. That moment of just somebody coming to see and talk to you is such a relief.”
From homelessness to a restuarant owner. And he’s not stopping there.
“My vision for Trio is to have one in each of our cities, we need it. Right in the middle of black communities to change eating habits.”
He has faced more than any person should, but he doesn’t see it as a bad thing.
“It all came from an act of racial injustice. It’s our history. It’s my kids’ history, it’s your kids’ history. It’s history for our community. What happened and that we can share these stories with our kids and tell them that all bad situations are not always bad, they can turn out for good.
I face challenges every day being a black man; God made my skin thick for a reason, I experienced a lot of things in my life to get here, to serve the community healthy food and I know that’s my calling.”

How to be the best Advocate

Tips from staff to us be the best supporters and advocates

  • Treat all people with dignity and respect. Remember that all of us are someone’s baby girl or boy and that the behaviors we display are not the result of poor choices or low moral character but rather the survival response to the environment that we were born into and brought up through.
  • The only way for someone to overcome a traumatic upbringing is through providing a consistently supportive and nurturing environment.
  • Be trauma informed!
  • People with substance use disorder or mental illness are not crazy or evil- They’re people!
  • Continue to care and support people by changing the language about them. It is not “us vs them”, it is just “us” all together and messy. We all have issues and shortcomings, some are just more visual or impairing than others.
  • I have found in my experience, being a supporter of someone with mental and/or substance use issues can go both ways-poorly; if there is no understanding, compassion, empathy, and boundaries, or beautifully; if there is understanding, compassion, boundaries, empathy and humor!
  • Educating oneself on substance abuse and mental illness will create a foundation of knowledge. Understanding that both mental illness and substance abuse conjointly affect the individual. Then, that is when individuals can actively be able to listen, utilize appropriate terms and languages, imbed research, and create an advocacy plan of action to identify the opposition, challenges and any resistance that might unfold to improve upon areas of concern.
  • Additionally, individuals can be assertive yet empathetic, be enthusiastic and compassionate, and be adaptable to different perspectives and stories.
  • Lastly, providing resources to help individuals that are living, and actively facing the co occurring disorders of substance abuse and mental illness so that they are able to lead a better quality of life.
  • As a community we are well equipped to enable these individuals to improve their quality of lives, and should do whatever it takes collectively provide resources through different channels to provide them the help they need to alleviate poverty within the community that’s driven by both substance abuse and mental illness, all too often poverty is an association either directly or indirectly to a magnitude of mental illness and or substance abuse.

Giving Time: Healing What He broke  // Tawann’s Story

“I don’t like to live in the past because the past can’t do nothing but keep you in the past.
I like looking to the future now, because I can see it. At first, I couldn’t see it. I’ve been shot nine times, stabbed, stole from and left for dead because that’s the lifestyle that I lived on the streets.
I’m not even supposed to be here today. The world counted me out, but there was a different plan for my life.”
And what a difference that was. From growing up in the toughest parts of town with a father who was a user and dealer and the house he was living in being the neighborhood “party house” to now being clean and sober for five years, Tawann’s life is worlds apart from the one he came from.
Tawann grew up in Indiana and came to Minnesota more than two decades ago. But leaving his hometown didn’t help him escape his past. It found him here too. Tawann said it’s because that sometimes feels like the easiest route, the one that’s most familiar.
When his marriage fell apart, Tawann allowed the rest of his life to do the same. He started using drugs again and he started dealing again too.
At the beginning of 2014, Tawann realized his life had spiraled completely out of control and decided it was time to make a change.
After spending two months at Turning Point, Tawann came to House of Charity. He lived in our residence hall and attended Day by Day treatment with us for about seven months.
The separation from his previous life he was able to achieve here helped Tawann succeed in being sober and clean.
“By me being in the House of Charity program, it helped me to not only just abstain from drugs but it helped me to get my life together because it helped me to get away from my circle of friends that encouraged that lifestyle I was trying to leave. I had to get away from people, places and things and this was like an escape and at the same time I was able to get tools to use in my day to day life from the treatment.”
Five years sober and clean and he’s giving back to the community he “freely helped destroy.”
Tawann is in his own apartment through Housing Supports, our Housing First program and is giving his time through volunteering with Neighborhood for Change, One Family One Community and MAD DADS. Being a part of these organizations and out in the community helps keep him grounded.
“Now I’m out there talking with folks about bettering the community and reaching them because in our community, folks are stuck and we don’t see the way out. We want the easy way out and the easy way out is a trap. I was able to see that there was a bigger and better way through these organizations and they kept me grounded as well.”
Tawann is going back to school this summer. His daughter just bought her first home and he’s about to become a grandpa. Because he saw that it was time to make a change, he turned his life around and now he gets be a part of his family’s lives.
And he’s giving back through MAD DADS. He is changing lives and giving back to the community he hurt with his addiction and dealing.
“What better than to have some guys who have been through this, that have changed their life around that can go out and talk with some other brothers and try to help them change their life around. Even if it’s been two years, you can’t save the world, but you can talk and be present and just uplift people no matter who it is. That’s the best thing they can be given.”
Tawann is changing the world through strengthening his community. What can you do today to do the same?

Jimmie’s Story

We have a special story for you! Several years ago we spoke with Jimmie and we got to talk to him just a few weeks ago! It’s so amazing to have clients come back and share their continued success with us.

Read below to see Jimmie’s story as he told to us several years ago and then read his update at the bottom!


For over 20 years, Jimmie was plagued by his addiction to alcohol and drugs. As a high-functioning addict, he was somehow able to hold the same job during those two decades, but as with most long-term addicts, his drug abuse finally eroded his ability to perform on the job and he was eventually fired as a result of his performance. It was at this low point that Jimmie finally realized that his addiction had overtaken his life and sought help.

An Evolution from Addiction to Awakening

Jimmie’s road to recovery was not a straight one. He went through treatment twice before finally coming to House of Charity. And it was here that he was finally able to take his life back.

Now Jimmie is a full-time student at MCTC and is studying addiction counseling. He is determined to complete his education with straight A’s. He knows firsthand that drug and alcohol addiction is common among people experiencing homelessness, and after seeing the impact his counselor had on his life, Jimmie realized that he could play a significant role in perpetuating the circle of recovery for others like him.

Another result of his newfound sobriety, he rediscovered his enjoyment for acting, one of the many hobbies he had in high school which were lost amidst his addiction. In fact, he recently auditioned for an MCTC school production and got the part!

A Future that’s Bright with Hope

By taking back his life from his addiction, Jimmie has been able to not only change his life, but to channel his life in a way that has the potential to save others. His goal is to have a direct and positive impact on people whose situations he understands. House of Charity stood alongside Jimmie when he needed it and Jimmie is stepping up to do the same.

“I realize now, but I’ve always known, only I have control over what goes on in my life, more than anybody else. Becoming empowered has been both the hardest and the best part of conquering my addiction. I want to cheer on other people and tell them, ‘you can do that! You have the ability within you.’”

Jimmie’s story illustrates how even at your lowest point of addiction, if you are willing to take ownership of your recovery, recognize the need for that structure, and hold yourself accountable to maintaining that structure, you can overcome just about anything. Jimmie’s life is full of promise now, and he says he couldn’t have done it without the consistency and support of House of Charity.



Despite a relapse, Jimmie is better than ever! He is again attending MCTC to obtain his Bachelor’s, and he hopes eventually Master’s, in addiction counseling. He has a nearly perfect GPA and is a part of groups and clubs at school. He is staying focused by attending church and regularly visiting a mental health center.

He has his own home and Jimmie says that independence can either help or hinder recovery. He has chosen to let it help. Jimmie says that being able to go home every night, lock his own door, and cook his own food in his own kitchen has been a good reminder of what he stands to loose if he starts using again.

His home, school and social groups are his foundation and he’s confident of his future where he can use his past experiences and what he’s learning now to help others.

“When I was a kid, people would ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up and I always answered, ‘I want to help people.’ Well now I’ve found a way to do that.”


Jolene’s Story

Healing Through Creativity: Jolene’s Story

The power of art is amazing. The beauty and honesty of the written word, a song, or a painting can speak to someone in a way few other things can. Jolene’s life has been changed by art.
When Jolene was younger she spent a lot of time drawing and writing. But, as she got older, those passions fell to the side.
Two years ago, homeless and struggling with addiction, Jolene found House of Charity.
While in our Day by Day treatment program, her life started to change. Jolene’s counselor encouraged her to find new ways to express her feelings and to redirect her thoughts and emotions. Jolene said that when she started writing poems, “Then I think I decided to heal. Emotionally, chemically, and physically.”
Her poems express all her feelings and experiences, including her love for her sons.
Writing and drawing allows her to confront and move past her thoughts and feelings.
Now, she is looking at the future. Jolene graduated from Day by Day in April and is eager to find her own home. She wants to find a place near the library where she can take computer classes to expand and improve her skills.
Jolene’s biggest dream is to be published. Because her House of Charity counselor helped her find a unique way to express herself, she has been able to heal and imagine a life beyond her struggles with homelessness and substance abuse. She can dream again.


Challenge Me

This road is tough.
Patience is a challenge, that’s constant.
Baby steps of clarity…
Experience is wisdom, engaged
Chances are earned…
Opportunities are gained.
Enter you into this colosseum of life…
Shouting crowds continuously dare say
“future’s challenging!”
You’re sober again and back in the game.
Every step taken is a chance made.
Your voice has an equal claim.
Generations yet to come,
I say challenge the future…
Hold your head high and shout!
This road to sobriety…these decisions,
This journey is again mine. I am my choice…
I challenge the future!
The Future does not challenge me!

Overcoming Obstacles: Angelo’s Story

“Is that my grandpa?”

Every time his grandson sees a man that looks a little like Angelo, he asks his mom if it’s him.

It’s been several years since Angelo and his grandson have seen each other.

Those years have been tough.

Since struggling with addiction, losing his home and being incarcerated, Angelo has seen a lot of hardship in the last few years.

And sometimes it feels like he’s still in the middle of it. But Angelo refuses to lose hope or give up on his goals.

That’s a common theme with our clients. Their hope for the future, their goals for what’s next.

Our client advocates and treatment counselors help our clients dream again.

On January 22 of this year, Angelo was released from jail. He came to House of Charity and received a bed and a spot in our Day by Day treatment program.

Since then, he has completed the program and is in recovery.

But now it feels like his progress has stalled.

Angelo thought that by now he would have moved out of House of Charity and have his own apartment.

It’s been especially hard since so many people around him are moving to their own places.

“I have a problem seeing people come and then leave and get their own housing and it leaves me feeling some kind of way because I’ve met all the criteria that needs to be met in order to get my housing and there’s always obstacles; there’s always something that pushes me back and it’s kind of hard for me to be glad for those people.”

But Angelo knows that he’ll get there.

“There’s so much that I want but I know I’m not going to get it all at one time so I just have to lay back and deal with it one step at a time.”

Recovery, housing, freedom, family. Those are Angelo’s biggest goals.

As soon as he got out of prison, Angelo knew that the thing he wanted most was to see his family again. To go home to Ohio to see his kids and grandkids, especially the grandson that keeps hoping every man he sees is his grandpa.

Step by step, Angelo is getting there. Angelo said that some days it feels like things just keep coming up to get in his way, that it seems like the steps to complete his goals are unending. But he is making progress; even if it is slower than he would like.

He has successfully gotten off parole.

He is working hard in our Day by Day program and is in recovery. One of the new additions to our treatment program is time spent in House of Charity’s plot in the Gethsemane community garden. There is research that proves that even 30 minutes spent outside can greatly reduce stress. This is a huge part of recovery. Angelo has been a part of that. He said that it has helped him relax and he hopes that when he gets his own home, the skills he’s learned in our community garden will allow him to plant and grow his own garden.

He has a job that some days is his escape from everything that seems impossible. Now he just needs a home and a car. And to see his family again.

“I wanted to get off parole before I could go home and see my family. I made that possible.”

We work with men and women like Angelo every single day. We support them as they move from addiction, incarceration, homelessness or mental illness toward recovery, freedom and independence.

Every day, people like Angelo find hope because they’re not alone.

How to Help Someone in Recovery

Community is a vital part of recovery. Support, encouragement and accountability can make the difference for someone working on recovery. Here are a few ways you can support someone in recovery from substance abuse or mental illness:Community is a vital part of recovery. Support, encouragement and accountability can make the difference for someone working on recovery. Here are a few ways you can support someone in recovery from substance abuse or mental illness:

Tell them you want to help and be available.  Many people in recovery feel alone or judged. By simply saying you want to help, you are communicating that their recovery is important.

Learn more about recovery.  Educate yourself! Learn more about the experiences, potential struggles and setbacks and supports needed for someone in recovery. By arming yourself with knowledge, you will better be able to support your friend or loved one.

Be supportive and avoid unreasonable expectations.  Every recovery looks different. Focus on supporting your friend or family member in their unique recovery journey rather than pushing them to recover quickly.

Find support.  The person recovering isn’t the only one who needs support. You might too! Find resources and groups that can help you support your friend or family member in recovery.

But most important of all, be patient.  Your friend or family member needs your support and patience as they work toward recovery. There will be relapses. There will be days where it feels like no progress was made. Just be patient. Recovery is a journey.

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?

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

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. reviews House of Charity

The Chemical and Mental Health Treatment program at House of Charity is an excellent gender-specific outpatient treatment option for men and women struggling with substance abuse or a dual diagnosis. Through evidence-based practices facilitated thorough system of phases and sliding scale payment options, treatment at House of Charity is comprehensive, affordable and definitely worth pursuing.

Read full review at

Feed. House. Empower. Volunteer handing a hot meal to a client at House of Charity Food Centre.

Featured in The Journal

House of Charity is highlighted in The Journal article. The Journal is “The News Source for Downtown & Northeast Minneapolis Residents”.

A refuge for those in need

House of Charity has served the poor for more than six decades

Melvin Lewis worked for more than 20 years as a professional bill collector, a job that took an emotional toll on him.

He started hanging around the wrong people, he said, began using crack cocaine and marijuana and was homeless for five months.

“I knew God had something better for me, and I knew it was time to turn around my life,” said Lewis, a Chicago native.

A church in Florida paid for Lewis to bus back to Minnesota, where he enrolled in House of Charity’s outpatient chemical dependency program. He completed the program in April 2014, found an apartment through the nonprofit and started school to become certified as a community health worker.

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.

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!”

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.