HOME Word Blog | Project HOME

HOME Word Blog

The scene could almost be out of Dante’s Inferno. But this is real life. Dozens of people in shabby tents or other makeshift semi-dwellings, encamped under the bridge, their environs trashed and chaotic. Even their cold lodgings were not as chaotic as the lives of these men and women, in the grips of a relentless and deadly addiction, mired in desperation, living on a thin edge of survival that could give way one day to a bad dose or a dirty needle.

When Loretta first came through the doors of Project HOME’s health clinic, she brought with her a complex blend of issues. As if having asthma, diabetes, and dealing with high blood pressure weren’t enough, she also had to deal with her background of poverty, homelessness, and addiction. Loretta was a resident of Project HOME’s Rowan Homes but in her strained economic situation, she had run out of medication and had no health insurance. “They treated me with compassion and dignity,” she remembers, “they didn’t just give me medicine and push me out the door.

Jessica looked strong and assured as she stood at the podium. Looking at the crowd of recent high school graduates, she told them she understood their feelings of apprehension about the future.
But she also wanted to encourage them through her own story. “I have come a long way,” she told them, “and I am proud of the person I am becoming.”

Move-in day at Ruth Williams House at the Gene & Marlene Epstein Building, Project HOME’s brand-new permanent housing facility. Rashawn is accompanied by Project HOME Residential staff as they take the elevator to the third floor. They arrive at Room 408, to find the door decorated with a large ribbon and bow, like a package ready to be opened. Filled with a mixture of excitement, amazement, and even some fear, Rashawn opened the door and entered the spacious, furnished efficiency apartment (complete with a gift basket of household supplies).

From the moment we met her, we knew that Helen Brown was a force of nature – but also a force of love and care for people. Helen, along with Chis Whaley and Priscilla Bennett (Ms. T), worked tirelessly to engage the people in the neighborhood.

The building was just what we were looking for. The beautiful solidly built four-story structure (originally a casket factory and later a furniture display warehouse) would serve perfectly as our first permanent housing residence for many of the people we had been working with who still needed to permanently break the cycle of homelessness with a place of their own.

It would be a challenge – securing financing, housing vouchers, permits. We even anticipated the usual protests from some in the neighborhood, an inevitable part of developing housing for people with special needs.

For almost 25 years, the vision, time, generosity and leadership of Lynne and Harold Honickman has been pivotal in Project HOME’s growth and success. Most significantly, their leadership greatly enhanced our belief in “the transformational power of education as crucial to addressing the degradation of homelessness and poverty.” The Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs stands as a beacon of opportunity for education and workforce development for children and their families.

Generosity: GIFTS of Community

Generosity is a way of life rooted in what we give ourselves and others. Generosity, the art of giving without the expectation of return, creates abundance when practiced regularly.

Backed by science, generosity is a known intervention to improve our quality of life and improve our health. Generosity – on neurobiological, interpersonal, and social levels - is known to reduce stress, support our immune systems, and enhance our sense of purpose. 

It all started on the streets.  Even when we had scarce resources to offer, the trusting relationships we formed with those men and women, many of whom had logged ten or more years on the streets, were the seeds of transformation.  They gave us hope and energy to truly believe that chronic homelessness could be solved.

They walk three abreast, one in a police uniform, another in a white Center City District (CCD) shirt with a purple hat, and a third wearing an orange vest with the words ‘Homeless Outreach’ on the back. Known as Ambassadors of Hope, this trio is pounding the pavement daily, stopping to talk to people they see experiencing homelessness, and bringing hope to each person they meet. “The thinking is that we can have a consistent presence in places where folks might spend their day,” explains Madelaine Guss, program manager for Project HOME’s Ambassadors of Hope.