CLEVELAND — Nutritious food, medical care, and a safe place to sleep.
They’re things many of us take for granted, but are oftentimes far out of reach for people experiencing homelessness.
Leaders of Joseph’s Home, a Cleveland homeless service provider exclusively focused on medical respite care for men, announced it's opening another facility for women at the end of the year called Mary’s Home.
“There really is no other place for women when they're ready to discharge from a hospital to be able to recuperate safely if they're experiencing homelessness. And so Mary's Home will offer that opportunity to safely recuperate and move forward,” Joseph’s Home executive director Beth Graham said.
The 10-bed medical respite provider will be located next to Joseph’s Home in a former school. So far, nearly $1 million has been raised to renovate the building, in addition to a $350,000 recoverable grant from the Cleveland Foundation that will serve as bridge financing to support the initial construction and renovation of the facility.
At Mary’s Home, leaders plan to implement the same care services in practice at Joseph’s Home.
“Providing short-term housing in our building, nutritious meals on-site, nursing care, care coordination, and case management to help people access the community support they need, and the housing that they will move into and allow them to live healthy and successfully for good,” Graham said.
The staff at Joseph’s Home has helped countless men get back on their feet, including Sam Jackson, who arrived at the facility in 2019 after a stay in a local hospital. Jackson was suffering from congestive heart failure and had been living out of his car.
“In the hospital, they found out I had an irregular heartbeat, and I was on crack cocaine. And I wanted to really kill myself,” Jackson said. “So while I was in the hospital, they mentioned Joseph’s Home, which I knew nothing about. And then when I got here. It was amazing. It was really amazing.”
At Joseph’s Home, Jackson was introduced to respite care manager Raven Kauffman and her staff who helped him learn how to use his life vest for his heart condition and take his medication.
“He was so used to just letting himself go. Using, living in the streets, running the streets. And when he came to us we had to teach him how to care for Sam,” Kauffman said.
A few months after arriving at Joseph’s Home, they were able to secure Jackson permanent housing at Light of Hearts Villa, an assisted-living facility in Bedford.
“In the process of me being here. I met Miss Raven, who’s an angel. The lady bent over backwards for me and I never received that kind of love from nobody,” Jackson said. “I didn't think people really cared, but she showed me that people care, and then not only her, her staff, they showed me love. They showed me that I could be something besides a crackhead.”
Since it opened 21 years ago Joseph’s Home is still the only provider of its kind in Northeast Ohio, but that will change when Mary’s Home opens. It's scheduled to open in December 2021.
Leaders are hoping to serve 60 to 70 women at Mary's Home each year.
“We will have 10 private rooms, and because we have an average length of stay that ranges between 60 to 90 days, we'll be able to take those 10 private rooms and make them 60 or 70 rooms. We’ll be able to serve that many women annually,” Graham said.
They want to help them reclaim their lives like they helped Jackson.
“They taught me how to love Sam, I used to not care about Sam, I wanted to die. But they gave me a reason for wanting to live,” Jackson said. “They gave me a reason for loving myself.”
The team at Joseph’s Home are still seeking donations to help with the Mary’s Home project. More information on how to donate can be found here.
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