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.

Join Us At the Walk to End Hunger!

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!

Visit: www.walktoendhunger.org


If you have questions, email Nicole Laumer: n.laumer@houseofcharity.org

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.

How Do We Help End Homelessness?

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

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.

Leadership Transition, 7/9/18

Bert Winkel, House of Charity executive director, will be leaving the organization to pursue other opportunities.

“As Bert leaves us, we thank him for his many efforts during his tenure. He has helped House of Charity make great strides in fulfilling our mission of feeding those in need, housing those experiencing homelessness and empowering individuals to achieve independence,” said House of Charity Board Chair Wendy Wehr.

Wehr noted that over the last decade House of Charity has grown from a $1.1 million to $4.3 million organization while improving client programs and services, such as creation of the permanent supportive housing program and the Day by Day chemical and mental health recovery program.

The House of Charity Board has engaged an experienced non-profit leader, Cheryl Jensen, to serve as interim executive director beginning July 9, 2018. Jensen has more than 25 years of experience with strategic non-profit leadership transitions including work with diverse communities and in our human services mission area.

“As a board, our goal is to ensure a smooth transition for House of Charity’s clients, employees, donors, community partners and others,” Wehr said. “We are fortunate to have a strong staff leadership team in place to support our mission and daily operations at this time of change.”

The House of Charity Board will immediately begin a comprehensive search for a permanent executive director whose vision and experience will allow this organization to continue to build its capacity to serve its clients and community.

“As we move through this transition, we plan to stay on track with construction of our Park 7 project which includes 61 units of affordable housing for people experiencing long-term homelessness,” Wehr added. “We will maintain our momentum with an unwavering focus on delivering high-level service to our clients, community partners, volunteers, generous investors and supporters.”


To stay up-to-date on the transition process, keep an eye on the linked page. We’ll post when there are new developments.