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

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

House of Charity Heart, to give, contribute, feed, house, empower with a heart of charity

House of Charity is Expanding!

With more permanent supportive housing with case management services to address each person’s barriers to maintaining housing, the more people will be independent and no longer homeless,” said Bert Winkel.

When a person is placed into permanent supportive housing it opens up a bed in transitional housing, which opens up a bed at a homeless shelter, which then takes one more person off street.”

House of Charity Purchases Finance and Commerce Property

Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 22, 2015) – House of Charity is pleased to announce the purchase of the Finance and Commerce property at 615 South 7th Street, Minneapolis. The property is adjacent to the House of Charity Food Centre located at 714 Park Avenue South. The partners in this purchase include the Twin Cities Community Land Bank and Community Housing Development Corporation.

The purchase is the springboard for much needed expansion of House of Charity. “The lack of affordable, permanent supportive housing continues to be a barrier for the homeless population we serve at House of Charity,” said Bert Winkel, Executive Director. “In order for our organization to continue to meet the needs of people experiencing long-term homelessness in the community, we must expand.”

The new development project includes a five story building with a new Food Centre space, expanded Day by Day Outpatient Recovery Program, and administrative offices on the first and second floors. Floors three through five will have 65 new Permanent Supportive Housing studio apartments for long-term homeless single adults. The building will include a large private deck on the 5th floor for the residents and off-sidewalk queueing space for Food Centre guests.

House of Charity will be seeking tax credit funding through Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) with construction optimally set to begin in spring 2016.

Affordable housing paired with supportive services is a proven strategy that increases housing stability. In Minneapolis and around the state, there is a shortage of permanent supportive housing options for people ready to make the next step toward self-sufficiency and independence.

 

A combination of low vacancy rates, low wages, and a lack of funding in Minneapolis has created one of the worst affordable rental shortages in more than a decade for low-income renters.”
(MinnPost: “Minneapolis renters face huge affordable-housing shortage,” 01/14/14)

Increased unemployment, stagnated wages and home foreclosures from the Great Recession added more people to the growing homeless population and added to the waiting lists for permanent supportive and affordable housing, while rental prices increased.”
(MinnPost: “Minneapolis renters face huge affordable-housing shortage,” 01/14/14)

In Hennepin County, for every 100 extremely low-income renters there are now 34 units that are affordable and available.”
(National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) 
analysis of CHAS data, 2006-10)

House of Charity Heart, to give, contribute, feed, house, empower with a heart of charity

Edmund’s Story: Life and Lessons

“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.”

A New Start

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Moving Forward with Determination and Gratitude: Jennifer’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Instilling Hope One to Another

A Compilation of Stories & Experiences from Food Centre Guests

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

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

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

Helping Others Navigate out of Homelessness: Denise’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Recovery Leads to Reunion: Lon’s Story

 

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

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

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

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

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

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