HOME-made: Where Business and Caring Meet
Philadelphia’s Project HOME might not be the first place you’d look to find two undergraduate business majors completing their coursework, but stop by the Fairmount-based charity and that’s exactly who you’ll find.
Every Thursday two Saint Joseph University students work side-by-side with formerly homeless residents, making handmade soaps and candles. The crafts are just one aspect of Project HOME’s social enterprise program which raises funds and provides residents with supportive employment. Since 1989, when co-founder and SJU alum Sr. Mary Scullion first opened its doors, Project HOME has been a leader in providing comprehensive and effective services to persons who experience chronic homelessness. Both Kevin Clarke (’16) and Greta Shanley (’18) became involved at Project HOME via a service-learning business course. They agree that the experience is one-of-a-kind and look forward to Thursdays. “Project HOME is a place that “cares for people in a different way” said Shanley, adding that the residence at 1515 Fairmount is a place that allows volunteers to “meet people where they are.”
Residents enjoy the hands-on candlemaking process. As one resident Pat noted, “It’s something different. It’s creating something. It’s kind of neat.” Another resident, Vernetta, said “Everything’s a blessing when it comes from Project HOME.”
In addition to being a forum for creativity, the social enterprise program’s HOME Made gift products are designed to provide residents with not only income, but also a way to practice basic skills prerequisite to competitive employment. Residents hone real world skills like punctuality, accountability, and multi-tasking all while building confidence and their resumes. The program, which originated in 2013, has tripled its profits since its inception, producing nearly 3,000 candles and soaps this past year. Some residents have gone on to work in the retail and food service industries after working within the social enterprise program.
The candles come in a variety of scents like apple spice and vanilla. The handmade soaps are either in a heart shape or a sheep and are available in oatmeal honey and fresh linen scents. Both the candles and soaps can be purchased at https://projecthome.org/store along with other products created by residents, including greeting cards and holiday gift baskets.
This article is by Liz Powers, an alumni of Saint Joseph University and a regular Project HOME volunteer .