Joseph's House, a faith-based organization dedicated to helping homeless young men, opened up a house under the auspices of Mt. Zion Baptist Church. Mama and I went to the grand opening, where the house directors and other officials from the church gave tours and discussed how Joseph's House would fit into the overall efforts against homelessness in the Triad.
As I looked around the house, which is an older style brick home set in a neighborhood that still showed some of it's 1950s-1960s pedigree, I marveled at how nice everything looked. The renovations, decorations and setup were all very well done. The kitchen was spectacular, and made me envy having one like it*. According to one of the program directors, the initial capacity is 8 youths, with possibility for expansion later. The church plans to open a like setup for young women later on in another house.
A look through the brochure I got gives a good overview of the services Joseph's House plans to provide: not just shelter and food, but life skills training, counseling and case management, job training and substance abuse treatment and counseling referrals, and other such services intended to keep these young men from falling back into the hell of homelessness. I asked the directors if they had linked to community services, and of course they have, with close communication with such entities as Guilford JobLink and GTCC.
But obviously, Joseph's House (I never did discover the source of the name) provides something more. Hope, yes it provides that. Shelter and a hot meal too. But the real provision came to me as I was wandering about the house: dignity. It's tragic that any youth in America has to be homeless at all, but if it is to be, then at least there are places like Joseph's House that aren't one of the homeless-shelter-horror-stories we always hear about, but clean, safe, decent and able to help. Places that treat you like a human being who's going through a tough time instead of a lower life form that dared to slither in the back door. Places that treat you with dignity.
More importantly, it's one more front in the fight against homelessness, and a gap that has long needed to be filled. There is a pressing need not only in the Triad, but all over America for temporary housing for homeless singles. While lots of attention is being paid to homeless families -- as well it should -- we should not forget the young men and women who find themselves also fallen through the weave of the American tapestry onto the cold, hard pavement of homelessness and who subsequently have to sometimes do the unspeakable to survive.
As Martha Stewart is wont to say: It's a Good Thing.
Suffice it to say, not only did Mt. Zion Baptist step up to the plate, it swung and connected. Hard.
*I still wouldn't like cooking, but at least I'd be in a nice setup...