News from HOME | Project HOME

News from HOME

Wesley, a resident leader at Project HOME and a member of our Board of Trustees, recalls his time in prison and subsequent period of homelessness as “years of darkness wallowing in failure.” His worst prison, he says, was the mental prison in which he was trapped. Now, he looks back and is amazed at how much he has changed in his time at Project HOME – employment, public speaking, artistic endeavors, reunion with family, and a sense of personal security and pride. 

Quote from Yisha

As a witness to our community around me, both locally and afar, I am moved by the recent happenings that have stemmed from all the restlessness, frustration and anger people have been feeling in regard to the accumulation of living within this pandemic, the killings of Black men and women by police, and the plight of our Black and Brown trans people and the LGBTQI community.

Be a Grocery LifeLine for our Residents 

One of the ways you can help many of our folks who are at extreme risk right now, is through our new Project HOME Grocery LifeLine program. We are collaborating with Roonga to ensure our vulnerable residents have the essentials. You can help by signing up to become a Grocery LifeLine. This is also an opportunity to build community and to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable among us. We hope you will join us. It can be done in four simple steps: 

Usually I Am Project HOME is dedicated to a single Project HOME employee who displays what it means to embody the mission of Project HOME. During COVID-19, so many of our employees have gone above and beyond. That is why, in this special issue of our newsletter, we’re recognizing our mission, and how every single Project HOME staff member has continued to carry it out despite many obstacles. It is also why we’re calling it You Are Project HOME.  

As a first-grader at Gwynedd Mercy Academy Elementary, Adam Welsh attended a 2017 presentation with Sister Mary Scullion. He left the event knowing that even a single dollar could have an impact in the life of someone engaged in Project HOME’s mission. Fast forward to the sprawling COVID-19 pandemic and Adam’s thoughts returned to Project HOME. “I don’t want anyone to be hungry,” said Adam, now nine-years-old. “I don’t want anyone to have to worry about getting their food when they need to focus on their health.”  

We watched as Wuhan, China was decimated by a new strain of contagious respiratory illness called the coronavirus or COVID-19. The first positive case was reported in the United States on January 21st and by early March, Philadelphia was reacting to the local impact of this virus.   

On any given day at Project HOME, our thoughts turn to those who are most vulnerable in our city. During this pandemic, that awareness increased tenfold. And that is why starting the week of March 9th, we put our plan into action.  

What do you do when you are instructed to “stay home”, but you have no home to stay in? How do you maintain community when social distancing is considered a life-saving precaution? What do you do when such life-saving precautions directly challenge the values of the community you are a part of?

Yaya  in front of HOME Spun Resale Boutique

When Yishya, “Yaya”, took a job at our HOME Spun Resale Boutique at 1523 Fairmount Avenue, she figured it would just be a stopgap on the way to her next opportunity. “Honestly, I didn’t think that it was anything that I would be good at,” said Yaya. “I didn't know how well I would be able to engage with people, you know, being shy.” But she took to the position quickly and whenever a customer at HOME Spun asked about Project HOME’s mission, talking about it seemed like the most natural thing to Yaya.

A few days ago, I was working with one of the outreach teams who were trying to find a placement for a vulnerable woman on the streets. I was impressed by the diligence and care of one of the outreach workers, Mr. Ruffin Hill. In talking with him afterwards, he reminded me that he was a resident of our St. Elizabeth’s Recovery Residence 20 years ago. Ruffin has been sober for 21 years, and after stabilizing his life and making much personal progress, he was employed full-time as an outreach worker with a partner organization, SELF Inc.

Allen Turner sorting through the thousands of books donated to Project HOME

If you pass Allen Turner at Project HOME’s 1515 Fairmount Avenue office and ask how he’s doing, his response will likely be, “It’s another day in the neighborhood!” He’s channeling PBS’s much-loved Fred Rogers, who’s known for saying “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Allen’s version of the saying holds tremendous and deep meaning for him. It signifies how every day gives him one more chance to love, grow, change, and live.


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