Here we speak with the team behind Project H.O.M.E.—a non-profit who is focused on breaking the cycle of homelessness and poverty through the compassion of our society.
Introduce Project H.O.M.E. to our readers.
Project H.O.M.E. empowers people to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, with the underlying values that “None of Us Are Home Unless All of Us Are Home” and each person has a role to play in making this a more just and compassionate society.
What is your mission?
The mission of the Project H.O.M.E. community is to empower adults, children, and families to break the cycle of homelessness and poverty, to alleviate the underlying causes of poverty, and to enable all of us to attain our fullest potential as individuals and as members of the broader society.
How does Project H.O.M.E. work to achieve that mission?
Project H.O.M.E. achieves its mission through a continuum of care comprised of street outreach, a range of supportive housing, and comprehensive services. We address the root causes of homelessness through neighborhood-based affordable housing, economic development, and environmental enhancement programs, as well as through providing access to employment opportunities; adult and youth education; and health care.
What are some of the ways you spread the word about your work?
Project H.O.M.E. is committed to social and political advocacy. An integral part of our work is education about the realities of homelessness and poverty and vigorous advocacy on behalf of and with homeless and low-income persons for more just and humane public policies.
What's a day at work like?
Each day employees of Project H.O.M.E. are: doing outreach on the streets, connecting with homeless individuals and working to place people into temporary housing; working with individuals in recovery while they get back on their feet; creating individualized plans to keep residents moving forward into permanent and stable housing; providing employment services to residents to help them gain job skills and training toward meaningful employment on the road to self-sufficiency; increasing literacy and building life skills in both children and adults; being advocates for the needs of the poor and those who are homeless; and developing housing for formerly homeless and low income men, women and children.
How did Project H.O.M.E. get its start?
Project H.O.M.E. began modestly in 1989, when co-founders Sister Mary Scullion and Joan Dawson McConnon opened an emergency winter shelter in Philadelphia. Within a year, Project H.O.M.E. had opened its first transitional residence. Within five years, the organization had grown to such a degree that it was able to expand its residential program while also taking over the management of the Outreach Coordination Center, a key component in the coordination of public and private outreach efforts for the City of Philadelphia. To read about our story from there you can visit our history page here
What do you think is Project H.O.M.E.'s biggest need in general? For the winter season?
Project H.O.M.E.’s biggest need is always permanent, affordable housing. There are still many people in shelters who need a place to call home. It’s hard to take a shower, find a job or take care of your health when you must pack up each day and leave a shelter with your belongings in tow. A home is a launching pad for everything people can accomplish.
Our seasonal needs, as winter is upon us, are new bedding, blankets and towels. We would also love to have people create stocking stuffers for residents to add to their holiday cheer!
What are your holiday plans for 2012?
Thanks to many donors and volunteers, the holidays at Project H.O.M.E. are warm and full of community. This Thanksgiving, over 700 turkey baskets were donated and over 45 volunteers celebrated with our community. More events are planned for the end of the year holidays, including decorating parties, meals and presents for all of our over 900 residents and children.
What are some examples of other events or fundraisers you do?
Our Young Leaders event pairs young business leaders with our up and coming teen entrepreneurs. The event showcases teen products and performances. Also, our online store
showcases the work of our teen entrepreneurs and our formerly homeless residents paintings, sweatshirts, cars, etc.What can readers (local and not local) do to help?
Amazing ways to stay involved with Project H.O.M.E. are:
1. Hold regular donation drives for items like canned food for our food pantry, personal care items or cleaning supplies
2. Volunteer regularly at one of our sites (serve meals, host bingo nights, tutor children in math and reading, mentor people just getting back into the workplace, etc.)
3. Lend your professional skills to a short or long term project by consulting on IT, HR, Marketing, Retail, Nutrition, and more
4. Support our work with financial support or by advocating for the poor and those who are homeless by visiting our website
Any heart warming holiday stories you could share?
Our annual Project H.O.M.E. holiday party took place in mid-December. Hundreds of residents, staff and board members came, many with family, to celebrate the hundreds of people brought in from the streets this year. It was standing room only with music, dancing, and even a little holiday shopping provided by our teen entrepreneurs. But the most special part of the evening was the cheer that went up as our first college graduate was singled out and congratulated.
Tanisha Clanton spent the first ten years of her life living on the streets with her addicted mother and siblings. After finally moving into Rowan Homes
at Project H.O.M.E., she attended our after school programs and our college access program. She graduated from Albright College
in May, started working as an art teacher later that month, and then this past fall drove her younger brother to college!