Roots and Branches: Reflections from Sister Mary
As we approach our 25th anniversary in 2014, we areastonished by the accomplishments of so many in the Project HOME community and with the substantial progress and development. Throughout the years some things have remained constant. When you speak to people who are experiencing homelessness about what they need, the most common answer is the same as it was 25 years ago: a place to live and a job.
That’s why, in our origins and continuing today, housing and employment have been strategic to our work and mission, along with health care and education. This year we are placing aparticular emphasis on expanding opportunities for people to work through competitive employment, paid internships, social enterprises, and, of course, continuing education and skill development.
Last spring, we were deeply inspired when we had the opportunityto visit our friends at Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles. Their founder, Father Greg Boyle, has rightly earned national recognition for his phenomenal work among young people caught up in Los Angeles’ notorious gang culture. “Nothing stops a bullet like a job,” Father Greg is fond of saying.
We got to know Father Greg and some of his “homies” when they visited Philadelphia last year. And we were very taken with his beautiful book, Tattoos of the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion, which many of us at Project HOME read during the year. We knew we had found kindred spirits, with their strong emphasis on grace,compassion, and unconditional love. So it was great to get the opportunity to see Homeboy Industries’ phenomenal work first hand. We were inspired by their accomplishments in creating meaningful employment and fostering a culture of recovery. (You can learn more about their work at www.homeboyindustries.org.)
It is not only inspiring but it is a powerful testament of what is possible to see adults or teens working diligently and responsibly, tapping into new-found skills, and exuding pride at a job well done. It is transformational for that person, and it enriches our entire community. As David Brown, a resident at Ray Homes who works at our HOME Spun Resale Boutique, puts it,“Employment and being in a working atmosphere are a very important part of getting back into society. I’m happy to be part of Project HOME’s employment program – it gives me stability, a sense of accomplishment, and a goal of getting up every day and going to work.”
To see David at work (and I hope many of you do, shopping at HOME Spun!) is to see the power of transformation at work. And we look forward, with your support and partnership, to much more transformation as we move into the future.