“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?
Deb joined House of Charity in December of 2018 as our new CEO/Executive Director. She came to us with years of experience working with the same communities we serve. In the short time she has been here, we have seen great changes and we’re looking forward to where she’ll guide our organization in the future.
When I tell people what I do for a living, I often hear, “that’s such a wonderful thing you do.” I find it necessary to point out, “you do realize I’m getting paid, right?”
Having said that, I feel blessed every day that I can make a living providing service to our community.
Coming to House of Charity was like coming home for me. My first apartment after high school was in Elliot Park at the Drexel apartments, and my first professional position was at Eden House which is also in Elliot Park.
The residents and diners at House of Charity are who I consider my community. We have all experienced stress and lows through life and those of us that make it through safe and successfully have only been able to do so because the right people were in the right place at the right time to assist us in our journey. My vision for House of Charity is that we play that role for every one that walks through our doors. People come to us with different levels of need and we must be prepared to meet them where they are while providing high quality services that allow them to be their best selves.
I’m also always cognizant that my personal story includes my white privilege and
cisgender privilege which provided me with fewer barriers and much less stress than our Communities of Color, Native American Communities and GLBTQ communities’
experience, particularly in Minnesota, which has some of the worst disparities in our country. I believe I am obligated to ensure that our agency operates in an anti-racist,
pro-GLBTQ, pro-diversity including religious, age, gender and racial diversity and
harassment free manner of any kind.
I attribute this belief in obligation to our entire community to my mother, a survivor of the German Holocaust, who taught me my entire life that if you wake up in your country knowing that anyone is being oppressed and you do nothing about it, you are, in fact, the oppressor.
I am committed to operating our program through the voices of those we serve. I am a firm believer that they are the experts in the needs of our community. We will continue to grow our ability to hear our consumers’ voices and develop programming accordingly.
Our hungry neighbors in Minneapolis walk through our Food Centre doors every day and expect to get out of the dangerous heat or cold and eat their meal in peace. They don’t expect fights. They don’t expect an intoxicated individual creating a dangerous situation. But sometimes that’s what they get.
We’re changing that.
For a large portion of the homeless population, our most regular Food Centre guests, they found themselves without a home because of domestic violence. For every one of our homeless population, they face abuse and violence from people every day.
That should be something they don’t have to worry about with us.
Because of that, we are installing new safety measures in our Food Centre. Security
cameras and a card scanner are being installed. Our diners will be given a personalized scan card to swipe as they enter.
Not only will this allow us to deny entry to individuals who have created a dangerous
environment, but we’ll better be able to track the demographics of the people who eat with us. This will help us as we seek to improve our services and apply for funding.
These changes will also ensure our volunteers are safer.
The safety of every individual who walks through our doors is our priority. While we can not eradicate every instance of violence these vulnerable individuals experience, we can make sure that the moment they walk though our doors they are safe.
written by Paige Dobmeier, HoC client advocate
The other day, a man came into our office and was looking for some direction. He left, instead, with a connection. Coming from a local shelter, he wanted to know what his next step should be to find housing.
He shared his recent experiences with staying in shelters and the kind of unfortunate behavior he was experiencing from others, as well as the life circumstances that had left him homeless for several years.
When he left our office, he still had no certainty of finding housing soon, as he was still working to get connected to an agency. He did, however, leave with a warm smile. I believe that smile formed from having the opportunity to share a piece of his story and recent experiences with two people who took a few moments to listen.
I felt truly moved by the gratitude we received from him as the few minutes we spent with him was such a simple act. This man seemed more empowered to continue his journey because he received our time.
One aspect of my practice that I continue to try to improve every day is to listen better and show clients that they are heard.
I am still awed by these moments when I receive such gratitude for such brief encounters, because it represents how powerful the human connection can be when we take time to show others we see them and we acknowledge them, even if all we can give is a moment. I am often reminded by others that a simple smile or acknowledging someone personally can make all the difference to an individual who is in need of that connection, because at times that person is me.
This is why we have the opportunity to empower individuals at House of Charity; because we recognize that we are all connected through the common thread of humanity and everyone deserves the opportunity to work towards living the life they desire.
We value the time we spend with the people we serve because we recognize what a difference taking a few extra moments to connect with someone can make.
On March 13th, House of Charity staff and clients joined thousands of others in advocating for the homeless at the capitol. We met with legislators, attended hearings and connected with others who care as much for those experiencing homelessness as we do.
The highlights of the legislative agenda created by the Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless are:
– Invest $15 mil. in the Emergency Services Program
– $200/mo. increase for the Minnesota Family Investment Program
– Restore the Vote
While the day on the hill is vitally important, advocacy doesn’t stop when we leave the capitol. That’s why we need you. The dire situations of thousands of Minnesotans are being silenced and it’s our responsibility to raise our voices for them.
Please join us in the important advocacy work. Learn more about where we need you most and what events you can attend:
Our long-awaited housing project is finally rolling!
Construction will begin to build 61 pet-friendly studio apartments for people experiencing long-term homelessness, along with other community spaces to expand and improve our services and the privacy of our clients.
As we get closer to breaking ground in the next few months, we’ve started planning an event to celebrate that.
We’re excited to start this project to better serve our neighbors in need. To keep up-to-date on all things construction related, connect with us on Facebook.
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.”
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.
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
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!
The House of Charity Board of Directors has named experienced nonprofit leader Deborah F. Moses, DPA, MPH, as the new Chief Executive Officer and Executive Director of the agency whose mission is to feed those in need, house those experiencing homelessness, and empower individuals to achieve independence. Moses will assume the leadership post effective December 10, 2018.
“For nearly 30 years, Deb Moses has worked within communities experiencing poverty and a vast array of disparities,” stated Wendy Wehr, president of the House of Charity board of directors. “She is a proven leader in creating systems that allow individuals and families to reach their full potential.”
Moses has served in numerous executive leadership positions at nonprofit social service agencies, as well as in key posts with the Minnesota Department of Human Services, where she managed large programs and shaped public policy. She has overseen budgets up to $110 million, has actively raised program and capital revenue, has improved service delivery, and has managed multiple programs and facilities within complex regulatory environments.
Moses holds a doctorate in public administration from Hamline University and graduated from the University of Minnesota with a master’s degree in public health. In addition, she has a chemical dependency counseling certificate and advanced credentials in health service administration. She also serves as adjunct faculty at Metro State University in the Co-Occurring Disorders Master’s Program and at St. Mary’s University in the School of Public Health.
Moses is a lifelong resident of the Twin Cities, currently residing in south Minneapolis. She has three adult children and two grandchildren who are the joys of her life. She enjoys bike riding throughout the Cities, hot yoga, reading, knitting, and traveling.
“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.
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.
Every single day of the year, we serve a hot, filling meal to every single person who walks through our Food Centre doors. We are working hard to end hunger and we found a group of people with the same goal!
On Thanksgiving morning, we will be joining 13 other organizations and hundreds of walkers at the Mall of America on a mission to eliminate hunger in the Twin Cities. Please join us!
It’ll be a great morning full of fun activities and the chance to make sure someone else gets to eat before you dig in to your pumpkin pie!
Since 2008, the Walk to End Hunger has raised over $1,200,000 to help support
hunger relief organizations working to eliminate hunger in the Twin Cities metro area. One-hundred percent of the net proceeds are distributed to our partner organizations.
The event officially starts in the Rotunda at 7:30am. The walk and activities will be from 8-10am.
All individuals who raise $100 will receive a free event t-shirt.
Hunger Fighter (18+ yrs.): $25.00; $35.00 at the door
Hunger Fighter Jr.: FREE
Join the House of Charity team as we continue to work to end hunger!
If you have questions, email Nicole Laumer: email@example.com
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
- 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.
written by Greg Owen, HoC Board Member
I remember one of my first interviews with a homeless man in Minneapolis. He had been on the streets for a long time and his face told the story of the hard life he had lived. He did not smile much, gave one or two word answers to the survey questions, and reported a long list of health problems. But he wanted people to know his story and was eager to get the $5 in cash offered to survey participants so that he could buy some hot food when we were done. I remember feeling helpless to do much for this man at the time, but I hoped the survey information we were gathering as part of Wilder’s Statewide Homeless Study would raise awareness and lead to some solutions.
House of Charity works to address many of the problems faced by those trapped in a world of homelessness by providing food, housing and an opportunity to access addiction treatment. And one of the most powerful tools we have is the housing we provide. We know that safe and supportive housing makes a difference.
In a three-year follow-up study of 581 adults in 51 supportive housing programs across Minnesota, Wilder researchers found that:
- Supportive housing serves residents with serious disabilities and other barriers to self-sufficiency including long-term and chronic homelessness.
The supportive housing service models help connect residents to mainstream benefits that can help provide long-term stability.
- Program participants make measurable gains in their ability to respond to challenges, budget money, receive support from others, stay focused, and remain hopeful about the future.
- Half of all participants report that their mental health status improved after entering supportive housing.
- More than three-quarters of all participants who left supportive housing programs during the study period exited to some form of permanent housing.
This study tell us that we are on the right track with our work at House of Charity and that stable housing is the bedrock required for a more stable and healthy future. It also tells us that we can make a difference if we are persistent in our goal to increase the availability of this kind of housing as we are now doing with the Park 7 Project. Let us all commit to continuing this work together to help define a better future for those who come to our doors.
Wilder’s next Statewide Homeless Study happens on October 25 this year. If you are interested in being a volunteer survey interviewer, call Karen Ulstad at 651-280-2690 or Chris Lindberg at 651-280-2728
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
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?
The power of a purple button. You’re thinking to yourself, how does a purple button have any power? I witnessed first-hand how two purple buttons brought a grown man named Tony, to tears. Tears of joy because his favorite shirt that he’d had for years and was missing two purple buttons, was finally repaired. He had held on to that shirt hoping he would once again be able to wear it. A few months ago was that night.
The power of two purple buttons turned this man’s whole day around. I knew nothing of his struggles, but I knew that purple shirt mattered to him greatly. I did learn he had worked in the automobile industry and was a proud veteran. A table full of volunteer sewers that night saw nothing but a man who had proudly served his country and so desperately wanted to wear his favorite shirt again.
I realized early on that clothing evoked an emotional connection for people. Especially when someone is struggling with overcoming an addiction or battling mental health issues. Sometimes a favorite shirt can get you through a tough day.
We mend more than clothes at Mobile Menders. We help mend the soul. We let people know that they matter and their clothes matter. We allow them to share their stories with us and vice versa. We’re building community and sharing stories and there’s an important conversation going on.
So, if you think one person can’t make a difference, I beg you to think again. Because I witnessed it first hand that night.
After founder Michelle Ooley realized there was a dire need for clothes mending in the homeless community, she organized a group of volunteers to hold events offering their skills and time to repair clothes for those in need. Since its founding in June of 2017, the Mobile Menders have grown to more than 200 volunteers and have served countless individuals. The change they have made in such a short time is enourmous. They served 151 people in the first three months of 2018 and repaired 287 items.
We are reminded time and again of the power of one person who is willing to give generously of their times and skills and Michelle and her crew demonstrate that so clearly.
We are so grateful for the Mobile Menders and are continually amazed at the HUGE impact they have on our clients and in turn on us as we watch them give so generously to the people we serve.
Learn more about the Mobile Menders on Facebook or their website: mobilemenders.weebly.com
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
“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
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!
House of Charity has raised $11 million, enough funds to begin construction of the housing building as soon as spring of 2019!
With the October 2017 approval of $8 million in funds from the Minnesota Housing Finance Agency restricted to housing, we have the funds to build 61 studio apartments for people experiencing long-term homelessness, the foundation of our ambitious expansion.
We are thrilled to receive the full housing funding for construction of the first building of our new facilities! Because the funds were restricted to housing, we are taking some time to redesign the second phase which includes the Food Centre, outpatient addiction and mental health program, and new offices for our case managers and our administration.
On March 6, a team of 18 people from House of Charity joined over 1000 other individuals at the state Capitol to advocate for affordable housing. Staff, clients (a first for us), and board members met with their legislators to talk about the importance of supporting Minnesota’s
housing continuum by emphasizing the
importance of funds that will provide:
1. Matching fund for communities to create and resource a Local Housing Trust Fund
2. Funding for Homework Starts at Home to support students of homeless and highly mobile families
3. Investments to prevent homelessness through rental assistance
4. Preservation and building of over 3,000 units of housing for the lowest income Minnesotans
5. Housing Infrastruture Bonds that will promote homeownership through community land trusts
And so much more
It is so important that we raise our voices to advocate for those who cannot.
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: www.houseofcharity.org/ resources/dependency-illness-treatment
National Alliance on Mental Illness . (n.d.). Mental Health by the Numbers . Retrieved August 23, 2017, from https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-By-the-Numbers
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration . (n.d.). Co-occurring Disorders. Retrieved August 23, 2017, from https://www.samhsa.gov/disorders/co-occurring
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.
Hashtags: #ProtectOurHomes #ProtectHousing
For more info, email Anna:
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
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.”
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.
Addicted 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.
Work Harder. Try Harder.
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.
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
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.
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/>.
The 2017 Legislative Session is well underway. House of Charity supports the legislative agenda for “Homes for All,” “Prosperity for All,” and “Restore the Vote.”
The “Homes for All” initiative is pushing for two major initiatives:
2017 “Homes for All” Legislative Request
- “Homes for All” requests an additional $30 million in the state budget for the full spectrum of housing needs and to strengthen Minnesota’s Housing Continuum: investments will prevent and end homelessness, promote affordable housing, and prepare homeowners. These investments help communities throughout the state address housing needs and build financial assets.
- Homes for All also requests $100 million in bonds for housing. These investments provide critical funding to build and preserve affordable housing throughout the state. This would allow the state to build or preserve 3,000 homes for Minnesotans experiencing homelessness.
The Governor’s budget and bills in the House and Senate include funds to help individuals and families end their homelessness with services and housing that fits their need.
The “Prosperity for All” initiative is an appeal for two actions
- Increase the Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) cash assistance by $100. MFIP provides work support and temporary cash assistance for families working toward full-time employment. The MFIP funds have not increased in 30 years. The cost of living has certainly increased, but the support for families working toward employment has not.
- Improve the Working Family Credit. The credit needs to be offered to more families, be increased, and include younger workers.
Restore the Vote is an effort to reinstate voting rights for ex-offenders on probation or parole.
We need your help! Call or e-mail your Legislator to let them know you want them to support the “Homes for All,” “Prosperity for All,” and “Restore the Vote” Legislative Agendas.
It’s easy to call and leave a voicemail or message with a staffer: “Hi, my name is _____________________ and I live in ____________(city). I strongly support the $100 million investment in bonds for housing through the Homes for All initiative. I’m calling to ask _____________ to support “Homes for All” and I want them to also include the MFIP cash assistance increase again in the 2017 budget. It’s been 30 years since MFIP cash assistance for low-income families has been increased. It is time to increase support. Thank you.”
To find out who represents you go to: http://www.gis.leg.mn/OpenLayers/districts/
,HOC’s free meals at the Food Centre help meet the challenges faced by working families. The above statistics show why people struggle to feed their families on limited incomes, even when the head of household is working hard. For a family of four in Minnesota, the average cost of groceries per month is $900. For families with little or no stable income, that amount looks like an impossible obstacle to overcome. When money is tight, food is often last in a long list of expenses to pay out. Housing costs often become the first priority for a tightly stretched dollar. As a result, many individuals and families come to places like the House of Charity Food Centre to help out just a little with their immediate food crisis.
Many of those people who visit House of Charity’s Food Centre qualify for and recieve food assistance. The program in Minnesota, Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP, can help people in bridging the gap. Often, however, this supplement is not enough to meet the needs of the family. This program, which used to be known as Food Stamps, offers about $200 a month in benefits per person. Based on the average cost of groceries for a family of four, this is far from sufficient to keep families, especially children, healthy. For this reason, many families end up at the Food Centre to supplement their food budget and get a good healthy meal.
If a family seeks help with food, whether through the Food Centre or SNAP, it doesn’t mean a lack of effort at their job. Many parents work long, hard hours just to be able to afford a house or rent for their family. A safe living situation. We at House of Charity are here to help them bridge the gap as they work toward complete sufficiency and independence.
For Further Information:
Visit the MN Department of Human Services SNAP page to gain more knowledge about the program and see what it takes to apply. https://mn.gov/hds/SNAP
For a broader view of the program, visit the goverment benefits website. https://www.benefits.gov/benefits/SNAP
Terry’s was a life marked with unthinkable trauma, sadness, and loss. By the time he’d reached his current 84 years, he’d experienced more than most could fathom. From serving his country in the army, to surviving 30 Minnesota winters on the streets, Terry had encountered devastating life experiences, one after another. Each cut like a knife, slicing off a little more of his resilience. All these trials contributed to his experience of homelessness, but one episode stood apart from the rest, in his long journey of rebuilding life.
In 1985, Terry’s beloved dog, Cliff, was put down. This defining moment started his experience of homelessness. “The day I had my dog put down hurt me most. Cliff was the last vestige of my former life,” he said. Any memories of stability Terry had were tied to his pet. When Terry lost Cliff, he also lost the last remaining link to his past. He just gave up—on everything.
Rebuilding Life, One Piece at a Time
Terry lived on the streets for three decades. He says, “I put it off….I really didn’t want to come inside and have to live by someone else’s rules.” With his health and eyesight deteriorating rapidly, he knew it was no longer an option to continue as he had for the past 30 years.
He came to the Food Centre at least four times a week for his “sit-down and enjoyable” meal, saying, “Is it always my favorite dish? Of course not, but there’s always plenty of it.” He paused, and with a dead-pan expression stated, “And the price is always affordable.” This ever-present wit and his compassion for others makes Terry a favorite among House of Charity’s staff and volunteers.
Terry’s favorite audience are the students who volunteer at the Food Centre, of which he said with a grin, “They come in and they smile and like my jokes, but most importantly, they remind me of what I used to be like. At my age, to see them smile when they talk with me….” Shaking his head, he smiled, “Yah, that’s my favorite part.”
A Positive Mindset, Mixed with Humor
The power of purpose, activity, and laughter are the pillars upon which Terry’s life and survival are now built. This positive mindset is also the foundation upon which his legacy will rest. The support of established structures and regular routines are vital to Terry. He keeps himself busy in his free time visiting hospital patients, reading for the blind, and delivering hand-made bouquets.
Recently, Terry found permanent housing through a partnership between HOC and the Minnesota VA. Whenever possible, Terry supplements his diet at House of Charity’s Food Centre. He continues to use his experiences with homelessness to encourage and comfort others. Those going through similar experiences in their quest for rebuilding life find encouragement from his positive outlook.
Terry’s journey through homelessness is a testament to us all. Terry’s perseverance and the power of keeping a positive mindset no matter how dark the situation may be are an encouragement to all.
Melvin’s story tells of his partnership with House of Charity in his life transformation:
“There comes a time when you realize whatever cycle you have been in needs to stop. Stay clean. Go to school. Do whatever you need to do. Find programs like House of Charity.”
For over 20 years, Melvin worked as a professional bill collector, a job that demanded a lot of him emotionally. The byproduct of his job was high stress: an emotional toll that came from having to deal with highly sensitive situations each day. As a result Melvin started abusing crack cocaine and marijuana in an attempt to escape from the daily pressures that came with his work.
At this point in his life he left his job and moved to Florida, but there his drug use only escalated. He went through treatment programs several times without sobriety ever truly sticking. After a combination of bad life choices involving relationships and personal connections that kept leading him away from his goals, Melvin finally resolved to commit to his sobriety and moved back to Minnesota to face his demons.
New Beginnings Rooted in Optimism
Seemingly having nowhere else to turn, Melvin came to Minneapolis and House of Charity. He was admitted to HOC’s Day by Day Outpatient Chemical Dependency Treatment Program. After completing treatment, Melvin took back his life with the help of his counselors and many other staff members.
Now fully sober and stable, Melvin has landed on a new career path for himself and has enrolled in technical vocation training to become a community health worker and, eventually, a CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant). His long-term goal is to be both so that he can help people in more than one place.
Transformation of Pain into Positive Action
Melvin’s ultimate mission was always to get clean, stay clean, and find a job; and through his hard work and unwavering focus, he is achieving far more than that. By taking back his life from his addiction, he has not only changed his life, but he has discovered that he also has the potential to save others.
House of Charity stood alongside Melvin when he needed it, and Melvin is determined to do the same for others. “The advice I give folks in my situation,” he says, “is to stay strong in what you are doing. You don’t want to keep falling. There comes a time when you realize whatever cycle you have been in needs to stop. Stay clean. Go to school. Do whatever you need to do. Find programs like House of Charity.”
Melvin is proud of his hard-earned growth and stability. He has been in his apartment for almost two years and continues to do the right thing. “I will always thank House of Charity for the impact they made on my life. This is a powerful program of transformation. And this is much better than other programs I’ve heard about. They really do try to help you.”
One of the people connected with House of Charity the longest isn’t an employee, it’s a client! We sat down with Kyle to talk about his personal journey on the path for a sustainable recovery, and also how House of Charity has grown over the years.
Q: When did you first use services at House of Charity?
“Around 2006, House of Charity converted their main building to serve more people in a Group Residential Housing setting and I’m pretty sure I was the first person in that program. In 2012, when the Housing First program started, I was one of the first people in that program too, so I guess you could call me the House of Charity resident guinea pig. All new programs are tested for safety and efficacy by me!” Kyle shares with a smile.
Q: You just used the word efficacy correctly. Is it fair to say there is higher education in your background?
“I was able to acquire a Bachelor of Science in Business Finance from the University of Minnesota. After that, I received an MBA from the University of Arizona. Mental illness doesn’t just strike the poor and uneducated and sometimes—as with me—it’s lifelong. Now I see a psychiatrist, and I have a fantastic primary care physician, but sometimes I only receive an hour a month on their schedule. That’s where my House of Charity case manager comes in. I can call her when I need to, and since she’s familiar with my case, she can help with insight, advice and assist with my needs.”
While Kyle admits to being somewhat reticent to be interviewed, he feels strongly that mental illness must be addressed, and not ignored.
“The Centers for Disease Control recently stated that twenty percent of Americans will face mental illness at some point in their lives, so even if it doesn’t personally touch you it WILL affect you in some way, right? We need to change the stigma that’s associated with mental illness.”
The topics of drug use, addiction and mental illness arose, and Kyle continued to share his perspectives about achieving sustainable recovery.
“It doesn’t surprise me that people who are in a bad place want to escape, and that they get into drugs because that’s what we’ve traditionally used drugs for, to escape.” Kyle adds, “Because we don’t fully understand drug addiction, we’ve come to think of it as a moral failing, but a few hundred years ago if a person got sick it was thought it was because they had done something wrong. Until we get past this idea that it is a failing, people are going to hide it. And if we hide it, how are we going to treat it?”
With one final thought, Kyle wanted to leave his impression of House of Charity on his life in a simple way…
“If they can ‘fix’ me, they can ‘fix’ anybody!”
We 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.
House of Charity is highlighted on the www.pollenmidwest.org website. Pollen “helps people break down barriers to build better connected communities.” See story and more about Pollen at: https://www.pollenmidwest.org/opportunities/house-of-charity/
Expanding Hope for the Homeless
“How would your life change if you got sick? If medical couldn’t cover your bills? If you had to give all your money to medical? What would you do? Would you know where to go for help? Would you ask for help?”
Before her injury, Jennifer never could have imagined herself homeless. “I knew homelessness existed, but I guess I just didn’t give it any thought, and if I did, it was like, ‘Why are they homeless? They can work. They look like they can work.’ But it’s more than what you look like.” Just like in Jennifer’s situation, it could happen to anyone, at any time, and for any reason.
Jennifer was working three jobs when a back injury, exacerbated by the physical demands of her job in healthcare, led to a broken back and an inability to work. As her medical bills piled up, she found herself out of a home and living in her car.
“We’re paychecks away from the same situation,” says Evelyn Combs, Client Advocate Director.
It took Jennifer a long time before she could ask for help. After trying several shelters, she was more inclined to sleep on the street than face the conditions within those walls. Then one day, as she drove past House of Charity, something told her she should go inside. She had no idea what it was or what services they provided; she only knew that she needed to get inside before she froze to death. An hour later, she circled back and walked through the door.
For many people experiencing homelessness, pride often gets in the way of asking for help. In order to get out of the situation she was in, Jennifer had to ask for help, and for somebody who had been independently supporting herself, that was a difficult task. But House of Charity takes a unique approach with each of its clients who walk through the door.
“They made me feel like I was worthy of being here. ‘Yes we know you’re homeless…That doesn’t make you ugly, that doesn’t make you somebody else.’ Once they broke that barrier, that’s when I felt like ‘Ok, they’re really gonna help me.’ The next step was changing my attitude, and the following step was learning what I’m getting ready to do.” By addressing Jennifer’s internal struggles, House of Charity opened her up to not only surviving, but also progressing and thriving.
House of Charity is so much more than a charity or a shelter. Under one roof, there are services to address mental, physical, and emotional concerns, plus a highly qualified and invested staff who is willing to reach beyond his or her scope of work to find help and answers.
“I’ve never gotten an ‘I can’t help you.’ Even when I first came here and there was no room, they told me they’d get me in when they could.”
Equally important to the services House of Charity provides is the network it’s helped to create. “Community building and networking is important because we can’t do everything here, but it’s important to know where to send people to get help,” says Evelyn. “After the economy failed, a lot of resources went away. It was important for staff to know where to send people, or that an [organization’s] address was valid, because sometimes it takes somebody’s last $2 to get to that place.”
Once Jennifer was ready for the next step, House of Charity had even more resources to help her get there. Jennifer tapped into House of Charity’s other services including their Food Centre, other food shelves, doctors, and disability.
“My case manager was like a mini therapist; I used her ear and her professionalism to get some things off of my chest. I used their classes: financial budgeting, how to be a good neighbor, how to sign a lease, what an addendum to a lease was. I felt pretty damn smart.” The next hurdle for Jennifer, one which she never expected when she walked through the door of House of Charity, was finding an apartment.
Jennifer’s case manager was with her every step of the way during her housing search. Having the support of House of Charity was critical; as barriers to obtaining housing came up, House of Charity was there to tell Jennifer why something didn’t work out, and went one step further to help her address that barrier and prepare for the next search.
“The day I went to look at my apartment and I had my case manager with me, it was incredible. She vouched for me and I was accepted. Not only are they present, but they’re advocating on your behalf, and they know you.”
As of today, Jennifer has been in her apartment for three years and continues to use House of Charity’s services to progress and thrive.
“I’m getting there. I’m a work in progress. I love the independence, but I’ve still got a lot of work to do within myself, mentally, within my community, but I have that support.” When asked what kind of community House of Charity builds, Jennifer’s answer is simple:
“It looks like success. It looks like happy people, independent people. It’s a beautiful sight to see.”
House of Charity is so proud of Jennifer and what she has accomplished. She is a true testament to the spirit of hope and a better tomorrow. It is with that spirit of hope House of Charity is pleased to announce its Expanding Hope Campaign for a new building and expansion of services. Please visit HouseofCharity.org and consider making a donation to help transform the lives of others like Jennifer.
NEWS FROM THE HEART OF THE CITY
Rodney’s Story: Transforming Assumptions
Growing up in the small town of Middleton, in rural Ohio, Rodney struggled with addiction for most of his life.
“Everywhere I went to try to run away from my drug issues, they just followed me.”
Staying clean was an ongoing challenge. During the week he maintained the appearance of control, but by the weekend he was back to partying and using, finding himself penniless by Monday morning. His denial of his addictions kept him from changing. After repeating this cycle over and over Rodney accepted that he needed to change his life trajectory.
“I never saw myself as a ‘drug addict.’ I never got kicked out of a program—in fact, I completed all three—but I was always in denial of my addictions; I would always say, ‘I can stop using,’ but I never could.”
With no treatment centers near his hometown in Ohio, Rodney investigated treatment programs in Minnesota. After two years in different treatment programs in Minnesota, he came to the House of Charity’s Day-by-Day Outpatient Treatment Program where he was accepted into treatment and became a resident in our Transitional Housing Program. House of Charity not only provides temporary housing and treatment but also the opportunity for recovering individuals to rent an apartment and take the first steps toward real independence.
“I just wanted something different; I wanted my life to change, and it has. I owe it all to coming to Minnesota and the treatment I received.”
Rodney transitioned into the Housing First Permanent Supportive Housing Program after completion of the three-step program, eventually moving from the treatment and transitional housing program into his own apartment. He said he owes his success to the staff at House of Charity—particularly his case manager who really invested in his recovery. Even at his lowest points of recovery, when he couldn’t even envision his future, he said House of Charity staff helped him to keep his focus clear and his goal of sobriety in sight.
“Getting sober isn’t a streamlined thing, you have to have the will and the patience to know that it will come, but you have to want it. And I’m not done.
Now living in his own home in a Minneapolis suburb, Rodney is actively pursuing his degree in social work at a local technical college with the long-term hope of being able to help others in Ohio with the same kind of support and help that House of Charity provided to him in his recovery. He is grateful to House of Charity for their help in guiding him to independence and finding a dream and passion to help others.
“I really appreciate House of Charity. It only gets better, and now I feel it. I know it’s going to get better.”
“I got to see and learn a lot during my travels.” From Missouri, Illinois, Wisconsin, and finally to Minnesota; Edmund has been many places and seen many things. Still his vivaciousness for life is infectious. Edmund’s story starts in 1988.
My mom passed away when I was 17 years old, and I guess that’s really when my homelessness started. I was in the house alone and without guidance I turned to partying.”
Bills started to pile up and finally his sister took over the house. The next ten years Edmund describes as “wild”. Even during this time Edmund knew this was not the life he wanted to lead and that addiction did not define him.
“It was like, man, this is not me. Nobody knows who I am now; I don’t even know who I am now. An addict, no, I’m not an addict. I’m better than this.”
Edmund decided to go home and two years later took a job with the lumber yard that brought him to Minnesota. Unfortunately the lumber yard closed its doors and Edmund found himself back on the streets.
This time was different for Edmund. His first winter here he noticed how clean Minneapolis was and appreciated the helping hand Minnesota offered.
“I took the opportunity to say, I’m going to stay here, I’m going to do better here.”
A change of heart and willingness to better his life unfortunately was not enough. For a few more years Edmund struggled in and out of overnight shelters and treatment centers. From 2008 to 2012 Edmund tried four to five different treatment centers.
[quote]In 2012 Edmund came to House of Charity. He credits House of Charity with helping him get back on his feet.[/quote]
“I finally settled down my heart when I got into the House of Charity.”
Edmund stayed at House of Charity for 18 months and in March of 2014 entered the Housing First program. He now has a one bedroom apartment and in 2013 started school at a local community technical college. Edmund says,
“House of Charity really was the turning point, when I came here. I made it through, and really life is just beginning.”
Edmund is working toward an Associate Degree in Liberal Arts and plans to transfer to a state university to pursue a Bachelor Degree in Social Work.
“I think about all the counseling I have received over the years, and I just want to make a difference. Hopefully I can reach one person at a time.”
Edmund’s experience at House of Charity has given him the tools to think about the decisions he makes and navigate hardships when they occur.
“Even though I may not create the hardships I have to learn how to deal with them as they come. If I can deal with them wholesomely, I’ll make it through.”
Edmund’s Housing First Advocate is a believer in taking stock of small accomplishments to realize your full potential. Edmund exemplifies this motto. Since Edmund’s time with House of Charity he takes on life one step at a time.
“I believe that I am still at a certain level of “homelessness”. I’m not self-sustained; until I’m there I will always feel a little bit “homeless”. I have a stepping stone and some breathing room and I’m moving in a wholesome direction. The day is coming to where I can call up the State and say “wow, I’m okay”.”
Edmund wants to encourage House of Charity to stand by their mission statement. He believes in what House of Charity does. He believes House of Charity is here to encourage people and wants to let House of Charity know how much that means to him and to other people he knows.
“Your life doesn’t have to end because you’re homeless. There is a way back. I understand hardships are going to continue to come. Because of House of Charity, I now have the tools to say this is a hardship, I can get through this. I got through the gutter, I can get through this.”
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.”
No one has ever helped me like this before. No one has ever helped me like the people at House of Charity.”