The Changed Lives Behind the Numbers
Read the full issue of the Winter 2023 News from HOME here.
At Project HOME we take your generous gifts very seriously. That is why we author a report to show you just how your donation made an impact on the lives of Philadelphians, your friends, and neighbors, this year. We call it our annual report, but really it is the stories of the individuals who have come in thanks to the resources you have provided.
“We had a resident move on to California and establish a really successful career,” said Christina Fidanza, vice president of supportive housing operations. “These are the kinds of success stories that we love to hear!” That is just one story from our 1,157 residents across Project HOME’s 19 residential buildings. We have also seen about 98% of our young adults remain in stable housing after one year. Young adults like Michelle who came to Project HOME in 2019 after some time spent in the foster care system and, after she turned 18, in a women’s shelter. Now Michelle has the support she needs, she is practicing self-care, and developing her skills as a resident leader in her new home at Gloria Casarez Residence.
“When I opened the door to my apartment for the first time, it was a ‘wow’ moment,” Michelle reflects. “There is a sense of ‘I can’t believe this is happening.’ But getting in here with Project HOME is the best step you can take. It opens doors to new resources and helps you get beyond housing insecurity.”
If our young adults are given the support they need — such as mental health counselling, housing, and employment—at the right time in their lives, it ensures that they never experience housing instability again.
Employment is the reason that Dominique is one of 264 adult learners who have participated in Project HOME’s adult learning and employment program at the Honickman Learning Center Comcast Technology Labs (HLCCTL). She chose the customer service representative class to learn fundamental computer skills, but what she values above all else is the empathy it has given her. “It’s taught me how to manage customers who are frustrated and to know how it feels to be the person on the other side.”
Adult education offers other professional certificate programs designed to lead to both competitive employment and post-secondary and GED learning. These opportunities have been life-changing for Dominique. “It broadened my experience and gave me positive energy being around people,” said Dominique. And she’s willing to spread that positivity to others. “Since I came over to the center, I’ve been sharing the news about the HLCCTL with others to encourage them to come here.”
The other reason that Dominique loves the HLCCTL is because of the educational opportunities it provides to her six-year-old daughter, Diamond. “She’s been able to meet lots of different people and I don’t have to worry about her,” said Dominique. Diamond and 129 other students are enrolled in K-12 programs where 100% of seniors graduated high school and 88% enrolled in post-secondary programs last year. Dominique hopes to bring her older son Dominic to the HLCCTL so they can all learn in the same place. She says it’s such a happy environment for them. “Everyone is so welcoming and has a lovely smile on their face.”
Smiles are never in short supply at the Stephen Klein Wellness Center (SKWC). On a cold Wednesday afternoon, patients are laughing in waiting rooms, catching up with their primary care physicians, and greeting old friends in the corridors. Many patients, like Ayesha, have been coming to SKWC since it first opened its doors in 2014. “The staff here have given me so much and I love coming here,” she said.
Like many of the resources across Project HOME, finding staff since the pandemic has been tough, but that has not slowed their work. In 2022, the Stephen Klein Wellness Center had nearly 18,500 medical visits and over 4,000 dental visits, treating each patient with the care and attention they need.
Of course, to be able to take advantage of the many resources Project HOME can offer, resources we have thanks to your kindness, our incredible outreach staff must first help folks come in. “Some of the challenges our staff are seeing is not enough accessible shelters for people with disabilities or shelters that don’t allow service animals,” said Candice Player, vice president of outreach.
Project HOME’s newest residence, Inn of Amazing Mercy, will offer beds in Kensington that are low barrier. We will welcome people with animals, wheelchairs, or a substance use disorder to start their journey home. But the need is great. “Just in the last year, our outreach staff have made over 9,000 connections with individuals experiencing homelessness and placed over 2,000 people in a home,” said Player.
One of those connections was with Judith, 67, who lost her home when her apartment building partially collapsed in Philadelphia’s Logan section in September of last year. That day, Judith was in the hospital with pneumonia, but her partner was home and sadly he did not survive his injuries from the collapse. “I lost everything that day,” said Judith.
Outreach worker Tanya Baker worked tirelessly after the tragedy to find housing for Judith. In late December Judith received the call she had been hoping for: Tanya letting her know that her new apartment was ready. “Tanya is awesome, she promised me, and she came through,” said Judith.
“I’ve watched Sister Mary Scullion on TV over the years, and I never thought I’d need her help, but I’m so glad Project HOME is here and was able to help me.” - Judith, who was helped by Project HOME
The work that our staff do at Project HOME is not always easy, but it is life-changing and lifesaving. At the beginning of this new year, we celebrate how far we have come together, we thank you for your unwavering support, and we continue to make sure that we have the resources to bring everyone home.
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