BY DEBBIE PAGE
Members of the Iredell County Homelessness Coalition shared some success stories of helping those without housing get the needed assistance for self-sufficiency or help to return to their families and other areas at its February meeting.
Pam Navey shared the story of a justice-involved man who was living on the street in Statesville. The Foundation of Hope Ministries team helped him purchase a bus ticket and provided transportation to Salisbury to catch the bus to return home to Michigan.
He became addicted to opioids after surgery in 1991, but has now been in recovery for a few years.
“It’s important to talk about the positive things that happen. We need to encourage each other. We need to let the powers that be know how hard we are working to change and save lives,” said Navey.
Wendy Martin, program coordinator with the Project Re-entry program at Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina, met a 72-year-old man who was recently released from prison after being incarcerated since 1986.
Martin visited him at the Fifth Street Ministries shelter and was charmed by the gentleman who praised the shelter’s “best food” and wonderful staff. He was so grateful for all the help because all of his family has died or he has lost touch with them.
The man recently walked seven miles to apply for food stamps and then back to the shelter. He’s in good health and is being embraced by the community. Martin and other partners committed to give him the guidance and assistance he needs to gain shelter and self-sufficiency so that he can enjoy the rest of his life.
Karen Kidd of Foundation of Hope Ministries (https://fohminc.org/) shared the story of a recent parolee who became stranded here and had no connections in the community. He has some physical health issues and was living only only with a blanket, tent and his wheelchair.
FOH provided a hotel room and helped get approval for the Philadelphia parole agency to accept supervision so that he can return to the city where he has family and support.
“It’s positive to watch how lives can be changed and touched,” said Kidd.
Kidd also announced Black Balloon Day, which will occur on March 6 from 4 to 6 p.m. at Fifth Street Ministries in order to commemorate lives lost to overdose. Homelessness Coalition partners and other agencies are invited to set up tables at the event, which will raise awareness of the overdose issue.
Terri Blankenship with the Iredell County EMS Community Response Support Team (https://www.iredellcountync.gov/1696/Community-Response-Support-Team) said they have had some good successes working with folks in the Fifth Street shelter.
One particular resident has been homeless since he was 18. After a period of counseling and harm reduction, he has now detoxed, attended a 28-day program, and is now living in an Oxford sober living home and doing well.
Blankenship credits the many community partners, including Foundation of Hope Ministries and Partners’ workforce and recovery program for helping him. “Now he has a job and is doing well. The door was open and he was supported, and now that’s paid off after a year of working with him.”
Another story Blankenship shared was of a woman who was receiving some shelter services but not living in the shelter. They were able to get her into outpatient recovery treatment in the Southern Family Medicine program after she participated in the EMS medically assisted treatment (MAT) bridge program.
Blankenship has been amazed at her progress. The woman now has a full-time job and started her own nonprofit boutique, with the profits helping others who are homeless or in addiction.
She’s helped many other people in Mooresville, especially at the sober living house, including helping them get food and clothing for job interviews. “It’s amazing how you can help one person and end up impacting so many more. We’ve been really busy and working long hours, but it’s for a good reason.”
Brian King, recovery pastor at Christ Church in Statesville, invited those in recovery from trauma or substances to come visit their Celebrate Recovery group every Thursday night at Christ Church on Highway 115 at 6:30 p.m. (https://christnc.com/celebrate-recovery).
He also noted that the Foundry House program has had another graduate who is in the process of getting an apartment. So far three graduates have gone from homelessness to being productive citizens earning sustaining wages. “It’s a slow process, but it does work if they stay committed,” King said.
Fifth Street Ministries Executive Director Michele Knapp shared that the shelter’s family rooms are now back open and at full capacity, with six families currently residing in their facility. The transition house is also full, as are the re-entry slots with eight people living in four duplexes provided through Statesville Housing Authority. One open spot is available in the Veterans Transition House.
Knapp said that they are currently working to get four new tiny homes for clients and are getting contracts and permits in order. The new shelter manager, David Nolen, has also hit the ground running.
Knapp also announced that the domestic violence symposium, originally planned for April, has been moved to September.
The shelter currently needs donations of DayQuil, Mucinex, cough drops, and sore throat lozenges, Tylenol and Ibuprofen, Neosporin, hydrocortisone cream, Robitussin cough syrup, Theraflu, Tylenol Cold and Flu, Tylenol Sinus, swat shirts ad sweatpants (medium through 2X). For more information, visit https://www.fifthstreetministries.com/.
Fifth Street Ministries’ Path House, which serves those who are still homeless, serves a hot breakfast every Monday, Wednesday and Friday through great partnerships with churches and local businesses.
Food donations are currently low. Items needed include any type of prepackaged food that people can take with them as well as items that can be prepared in the Path House kitchen, such as pancake mix, oatmeal, grits, and other breakfast items. They are also in need of items such as sleeping bags, bottled water, shampoo and conditioner, soap, deodorant, razors, and laundry detergent.
The Path House is open every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. so that the unsheltered can shower, wash their clothes, have a hot meal. and pick up any needed supplies and non-perishable food to help ease their situation.
Navey also noted that several people had contacted her in need of bikes. Anyone who has bikes to donate to help people with transportation to work and medical appointments can contact Foundation of Hope Ministries at firstname.lastname@example.org to help.
Rob Harris encouraged local businesses to give homeless people a chance for employment. He wants to get a program together to help connect homeless people to jobs and the path out of poverty and homelessness.
“They often get a step forward, but barriers and challenges get in their way. Two people recently got jobs, and then the jobs were rescinded when the employer realized that they were homeless,” he said.
“We need to do outreach to local businesses to talk about the positive impact on homeless people when they get a job. They were absolutely crushed when they lost these job opportunities,” Harris added.
Shelton Moore, family support services director for I-CARE (https://www.icare-inc.org/), said that that if anyone is in need of employment to send them to his agency because they have partnerships to obtain employment as well as funding for vocational training, specific employment training, and the support and resources to help people become self-sufficient.
Sarah Helmick of United Way (https://uwiredell.org/) is currently working on getting a collaborative together to address the affordable housing crisis. The work is currently focused on rehabilitation of homes to keep people off the street in Statesville and Mooresville.
Hemlock is waiting for various funding streams to be available before getting this effort off the ground. She also said that the United Way grants for housing will be ready for applications by April.
Jerry Campbell, Partners’ community engagement specialist, talked about the Community Café that Partners will offer on February 28 on poverty. To register, visit https://www.partnersbhm.org/events/partners-community-cafe/var/ri-1.l-L1/.
Community Cafe occurs online every fourth Wednesday.
Campbell also told the coalition about the many training opportunities available for the community, most of which are free, including suicide prevention, community resilience, trafficking, mental health first aid, QPR training, and others.
These are available on Zoom or partner staff can come in person to teach these classes to your staff or community organization. The Partners website has more information on these trainings at https://www.partnersbhm.org/event-calendar-training/.