Journey Home https://journeyhomect.org Innovative Solutions to Homelessness Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:26:00 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Expanded Homeless Outreach Services https://journeyhomect.org/expanded-homeless-outreach-services-2/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:26:00 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7016 The unsheltered population in the Capitol region of Connecticut has been a challenging group to engage over the years and are also considered to be at a higher-risk of infection since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these individuals face mental health, substance abuse, and housing barriers, and are considered the most vulnerable and transient population within the Coordinated Access Network. Knowing the gaps that exist with homeless outreach services not being available in the evening and over the weekend, Journey Home has collaborated with three agencies in Hartford that will use a housing focused approach to address the needs of unsheltered adult individuals throughout Hartford and Greater Hartford.

Hands on Hartford, the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition and Wheeler Clinic are in the midst of forming an interdisciplinary team consisting of outreach workers, case managers, and a healthcare liaison in order to provide homeless street outreach and case management services to adult individuals experiencing homelessness. The ultimate goal will be to assist these homeless adult individuals to secure safe, viable housing opportunities throughout Hartford and the 29 surrounding towns. These three agencies, along with Journey Home, will also work in collaboration with the other outreach providers such as ImmaCare, Community Health Resources, Hartford Police, walk-in clinics and hospitals to ensure all unsheltered adult individuals are connected and engaged with community resources for behavioral health and housing stability.

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In Their Own Words https://journeyhomect.org/in-their-own-words-4/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:23:41 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7014 For seven incredible, rewarding, challenging, and fulfilling years, THANK YOU to each and every one of you who receives the Journey Home newsletter.  Together, we CAN end homelessness!

Seven years ago, I had the honor and privilege of being elected to serve on the Journey Home Board of Directors.  For the last four years I have served as the Board Chair.  This month, my term on the Board ends and I am overwhelmed with gratitude for the experiences and all those who made it possible.  What a ride it has been!

To our donors and funders–I am constantly amazed at and appreciative for your generosity.  Year after year, the number of folks and organizations that entrust their charitable dollars to Journey Home has grown.  Journey Home could not exist without that support and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To our volunteers–Journey Home simply could not meet the needs of our homeless population without you. You all have done so much for the organization over the past seven years.  The wonderful and dedicated volunteers have helped transform the lives of an ever-growing number of men, women and children that were and no longer are homeless.  In the past two years alone, you have converted over 500 places to sleep into homes with donated furniture and household goods you helped to collect.  Sharing your time and talent, you have helped Journey Home accomplish so much more than our staff alone ever could.  What an uplifting gift!

To our fellow service agencies—you rock!  You are at the front line of the region’s success in finding homes over the last seven years for thousands of men, women and children.  You have entrusted Journey Home to function as the backbone for the region’s efforts to end homelessness.  Thank you so much for letting Journey Home pursue collectively with you

  • a common vision and strategy,
  • aligned activities,
  • shared measurements to track progress,
  • public outreach for our homeless population,
  • innovative policies, and
  • expanded funding to end homelessness.

To my Board colleagues, past and present—what a dedicated, thoughtful and passionate group.  Many of your wear numerous hats—Board member, donor, volunteer, and service provider.  I so appreciate the chance to have served with and learned from you.

And to the Journey Home staff—superlatives fall short in conveying my admiration and gratitude for all you have done and are doing.  It is simply unbelievable how much has been accomplished in the past seven years.  The list of successes is too long to cover, but are exemplified by the regional response to the pandemic.  Our most vulnerable population—the homeless—were fed, housed, and protected from COVID 19.  You were truly the backbone, mobilizing our donors, funders, volunteers, and fellow service agencies to protect our homeless population.  What more fitting way can anyone demonstrate as you have that TOGETHER, WE CAN END HOMELESSNESS.

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Team Updates https://journeyhomect.org/team-updates/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:22:40 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7012 We offer our deepest thanks and appreciation to three board members who have each served seven years on the Journey Home board.  Each one of them has played a major role in the success of our organization.  They have each contributed so much of their time, energy and talent.  Our deepest appreciation goes out to the three of you — Joseph Black, David Doot, and Sandra Hastings — thank you for all you have done to support our work and to help change lives for so many in our community.

As we said goodbye to these three wonderful board members, we were so happy to welcome a new member to our board.  With great enthusiasm we welcome Marisa Paruta.  Marisa grew up in the South End of Hartford and is a graduate of UConn School of Business.  She is currently the Director of Accounting and Financial Reporting at Eversource.  She and her husband Marco live in Wethersfield are the parents of three children: Peter, Vincenzo, and Isabella and one German short hair Pointer, Ellie.  In her free time, she enjoys spending summer vacations in Rhode Island with extended family, fishing, kayaking, and volunteering at her church.  Marisa shares that she is, “looking forward to providing my services, time, and volunteerism to Journey Home and helping to spread awareness of its mission and goals.  I am excited to work with an organization committed to ending homelessness in our beautiful Greater Hartford area.” We are thrilled you are here, Marisa!

Our staff has grown as well over these last few months.  We extend a warm welcome to Mohd Dar and Eric Oliveras.

Mohd has contributed more than 10 years of leadership and commitment towards national and international development programs, related to public health, poverty reduction and environmental protection, with extensive focus on the policies that involves community-based interventions, planning, coordination, capacity building, communication and operational research.  During this time, he has participated in various national and international workshops, conferences and has published research papers in various international journals mostly related to addiction and substance abuse. He has gained technical skills through various training and certification programs in order to contribute towards non-profit management which includes Global Leaders Fellowship program by John’s Hopkins University and International Management Development Program (IMDP) by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

In his most recent role with a community action agency serving Greater Bridgeport Area, he worked to reduce poverty through the holistic case management approach which provided him with an opportunity to understand community needs and interventions required to obtain the goals.  In his free-time he loves trekking, wilderness, travel to historic places and cooking flavorful food.

Eric is originally from New York City and holds a BS in Criminal Justice Studies and a MS in Criminal Justice Administration. After completing his undergraduate program in 2005, Eric became a high school advisor, then after 6 years he transitioned to social services and became a case manager, then an administrator at a local shelter system in Rhode Island. Eric moved to Connecticut in 2013 and continued his career working with high-risk populations, particularly in the criminal justice sector. Eric is passionate on all topics of social justice and enjoys engaging members in the community to make positive change. Eric specializes in home restoration and project management; he has spent the last 5 years rebuilding historic residential homes in Connecticut for a local tribe. During his down time, Eric enjoys hiking and carpentry!

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From Emergency Shelter to Housing Navigation Center https://journeyhomect.org/from-emergency-shelter-to-housing-navigation-center/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:21:52 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7010 On a bitter cold morning in 1981, a priest at the Immaculate Conception Church at the corner of Park and Hungerford Streets in Hartford discovered a homeless man frozen to death near the church steps. Since that defining moment more than 30 years ago, ImmaCare has been a life-saving resource to thousands of people from Hartford and beyond who are experiencing homelessness, providing decent shelter and affordable, permanent supportive housing.

ImmaCare has always believed in offering easily accessible shelter and housing services to individuals experiencing homelessness. With that mission in mind, they set out to turn a 100+ year old church that housed their shelter program into a state-of-the-art Housing Navigation Center.  This new Housing Navigation Center is a low-barrier, service-enriched shelter with a focus on individuals working on ending their homelessness.

The new Center is really state of the art — advanced entry systems, updated showers and laundry facilities, as well as a kitchen for food service and a dining area. Behavioral health services are actively being planned to address and treat mental health and substance use disorders, both of which are strong contributors to homelessness. Clients will be offered guidance from an onsite employment specialist and a job developer, both of whom are equipped to supply clients with the necessary tools to begin their journey toward employment and financial stability.

We are so proud of all of the work that ImmaCare has done in our community over the years and we are more than certain that this new focus will offer those experiencing homelessness the opportunity to develop pathways to permanent housing, income, improved healthcare and stability.  The transformation of the building is truly incredible, the transformation of the program is inspiring, and we are certain that the lives of those who will be a part of the Housing Navigation Center will be transformed in significant ways.

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Youth Helping Youth: Navigating the Challenges of Homelessness as a Young Adult https://journeyhomect.org/youth-helping-youth-navigating-the-challenges-of-homelessness-as-a-young-adult/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:21:05 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7008 The Youth Action Council (YAC) is made up of a group of caring youth with lived experience of homelessness and housing instability who are working together to create change in order to meet the diverse needs of youth and young adults experiencing homelessness. YAC members are motivated, have a willingness to learn, and work collaboratively with community partners. All members have opportunities to gain skills and professional development experience in areas of advocacy, group facilitation, and public speaking. Recently, two YAC members provided feedback for Journey Home’s 3-year Strategic Plan, and one of them also presented to the Board of Directors on the work being done!

The group is interested in engaging with other youth and young adults through community outreach and social media. Their sense of community has allowed them to help each other when facing their own struggles. The YAC members created a space on a social media platform where they can share their challenges, frustrations, and also successes! This has been extremely helpful for a couple of them who have been struggling to feel connected during the pandemic (and let’s face it, who hasn’t struggled at some point during these times!). They have shared job leads, access to mental health resources, and been available to listen to each other and form healthy supportive relationships during difficult times.

With an overarching goal to make sure that youth homelessness is rare, brief, and one time, the YAC members lead the work of the group, and focus on improving services in the following areas: Outreach, Diversion, Prevention, and Advocacy. Two specific examples of the work being done currently are: one, efforts to research best practices regarding outreach/accessing services; and two, providing real-time feedback for programs that can help make them more youth-friendly.

Regarding outreach/accessing services, and to address the concern that there may be youth who are slipping through the cracks and not successfully engaging in services, two YAC members are conducting a series of video interviews (safely set up to get information with the ongoing pandemic) with youth who are actively experiencing homelessness in order to find out what their experience is when calling 211, and get feedback on what their needs are, if they are being met, and how they believe the system can be improved so that it is more youth-friendly.

Real-time feedback for programs was just provided as the cold weather arrived- one of the YAC members suggested that warming centers should have youth/young adult-aged specific spaces set aside to help them feel more comfortable. Whether the warming centers do this is up to them, but the ability to make suggestions that can affect change can be an empowering experience for the YAC members!

 

 

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#Giving Tuesday 2020 https://journeyhomect.org/giving-tuesday-2020/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:20:06 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7006 #GivingTuesday has grown into an international day of giving for more and more non-profits. When we had our first go at #GivingTuesday five years ago, it was rare that another non-profit in our area would be participating, and now it’s everywhere. We are so grateful to be able to join in again this year on this amazing day of giving and are extremely thankful for everyone who has shown their support to us and our community partners.

This year we were able to raise $4,500! With the number of participating organizations, it means the world to us that so many of you donated so we could raise such a significant amount for Journey Home and our A Hand Up program. It is donors like you that show your support on #GivingTuesday, at our annual Gala, during our Annual appeal, by donating furniture and household goods, as well as donating your time and energy, that show how committed we are as a community to ending homelessness.

While we may not have a fairy godmother that can wave her magic wand and say POOF, no more homelessness, we are fortunate in this season and year-round that there is another kind of magic we can always rely on. With the magic of this community’s volunteer time, donations, collaboration, support, and encouragement, we are able to get that much closer to ending homelessness each and every day.

We couldn’t do this work without you, so keep spreading your magic where you can and together, we will end homelessness right here in the Capital region.

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A Hand Up: A Program of Journey Home https://journeyhomect.org/a-hand-up-a-program-of-journey-home/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:19:16 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7004 This year has been a roller coaster but we are so thankful for being able to continue getting families and individuals the furniture and household goods they need to make their house a home. While this year surely has had its difficulties, it has also inspired us to do more, work harder, and look for the good each and every day. Our volunteers and donors are some of the amazing people that bring light and positivity to a year that has certainly had its darker moments.

One thing we hear all the time, that brings so much joy to our day, is that people are so grateful that their items, their parents’ furniture, and the bedroom sets that they purchased for their kids growing up can go directly to families right in this community. That these items can help individuals, families, and kids live more comfortably, rather than seeing sentimental household items go to the dump, or a loved one’s furniture sit on the side of the road. There is so much need in this community and also so much abundance. We are thankful that we are able to be the bridge for pieces to go from people who have, to people in need—this year bridging those resources to help approximately 300 households on their journey home!

Thanks to our volunteers for sticking with us, especially over the last 10 months when things looked dreary, you are the light in the darkness. Together with the A Hand Up program we are making a difference and we can continue to make an even bigger difference in 2021. Together we can continue to see growth with this program. Growth that continued this past year with a 2nd warehouse, and will continue into next year with a new system for inventory tracking, and goals for improved logistics management, increased volunteerism, and more outward facing data to inform you all on the amazing work our volunteers and staff do each and every year.

There is so much more we can do, we can give, and we can change to help people moving from homelessness to housing. With your help we can make our community stronger, safer, and happier for all. If you have any ideas for this program, please contact us at volunteer@journeyhomect.org to add to our growing list of ideas for 2021 and beyond! Together with your help, we can make this program, our A Hand Up program, the best it can be to help more families and individuals on their journey away from homelessness and towards their own homes.

 

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Expanded Homeless Outreach Services https://journeyhomect.org/expanded-homeless-outreach-services/ Fri, 15 Jan 2021 22:18:22 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=7002 The unsheltered population in the Capitol region of Connecticut has been a challenging group to engage over the years and are also considered to be at a higher-risk of infection since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many of these individuals face mental health, substance abuse, and housing barriers, and are considered the most vulnerable and transient population within the Coordinated Access Network. Knowing the gaps that exist with homeless outreach services not being available in the evening and over the weekend, Journey Home has collaborated with three agencies in Hartford that will use a housing focused approach to address the needs of unsheltered adult individuals throughout Hartford and Greater Hartford.

Hands on Hartford, the Greater Hartford Harm Reduction Coalition and Wheeler Clinic are in the midst of forming an interdisciplinary team consisting of outreach workers, case managers, and a healthcare liaison in order to provide homeless street outreach and case management services to adult individuals experiencing homelessness. The ultimate goal will be to assist these homeless adult individuals to secure safe, viable housing opportunities throughout Hartford and the 29 surrounding towns. These three agencies, along with Journey Home, will also work in collaboration with the other outreach providers such as ImmaCare, Community Health Resources, Hartford Police, walk-in clinics and hospitals to ensure all unsheltered adult individuals are connected and engaged with community resources for behavioral health and housing stability.

 

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COVID-19 Update #7 https://journeyhomect.org/covid-19-update-7/ Fri, 29 May 2020 15:45:29 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=6321 Journey Home Friends,
We are thrilled to announce that after testing over 150 clients and staff for COVID-19 at one of the area hotels, not a single person tested positive.  We offer tremendous thanks to the City of Hartford, Hartford Healthcare, South Park Inn, and Community Renewal Team for helping to make this possible.  This testing was the largest comprehensive test of the homeless population in any region of our state and we couldn’t be more pleased with the results.  Our collective efforts of moving this very vulnerable population out of congregate shelters and into hotels to ensure physical distancing has certainly succeeded.  We will continue to work at the intersection of health and homelessness to help individuals and families find a safe, stable, and affordable home.
This week, again with the support of the City of Hartford, Hartford Healthcare, ImmaCare, South Park Inn, and Community Renewal Team, we were able to test almost 60 additional clients at another area hotel.  As we await those results, we continue to hope for the best.
In addition to our focus on testing, we have also been working with leaders from across the state to plan a major effort to house 1000 households statewide in the next few months.  We anticipate that hotels will not be able to extend contracts to host people experiencing homelessness for too much longer, and we also recognize that we cannot go back to compressed shelters with no end in sight for COVID-19.  Therefore, we will face these challenges head-on and will focus our efforts on housing as many people experiencing homelessness as possible in as short amount of time as possible.  It will take an enormous amount of collaboration, partnership, and creativity to achieve this goal, but we believe that is possible with all of us working together, and we trust that you, our friends and supporters, donors, landlords, public officials, philanthropists, and caring individuals will support us through this effort.
As part of our update, we always take a moment to recognize our partners who deserve thanks for the work that they have been doing or the support they have provided to Journey Home:
  • Thank you to United Way of Central and Northeast Connecticut for a $20,000 grant
  • Thank you to Idlewilde Printing, Keating Agency Insurance and a West Hartford-based Facebook group for their donation of $1,174 — the proceeds from a t-shirt fundraiser for Journey Home
  • Thank you to all of our friends and supporters who have donated money or supplies.
As usual, there are many others who have helped in so many ways, and we apologize for not naming them all here, but will do our best to acknowledge them as soon as we can.
With deep gratitude,
Matt and the Journey Home team
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COVID-19 Update #6 https://journeyhomect.org/covid-19-update-6/ Thu, 28 May 2020 16:11:09 +0000 https://journeyhomect.org/?p=6318 Journey Home Friends,
As the COVID-19 crisis continues on in our community, we remain focused on keeping our most vulnerable population safe and simultaneously working towards providing permanent housing.
One of the challenges through this crisis has been the anxiety experienced by clients and staff from not knowing their own COVID-19 status and the fears of contracting or spreading the virus.  In order to help overcome this challenge, Journey Home and our partner organizations advocated to The City of Hartford for increased COVID-19 testing for this sector.  The City of Hartford responded and worked with Hartford Healthcare, which quickly mobilized teams to conduct mass testing at shelters and hotel sites where clients have been relocated from shelter.  Journey Home was at the hotel site this morning alongside staff from South Park Inn and Community Renewal Team, to help register and support more than 150 clients and staff through the testing process.  This morning’s testing at the hotel will be the largest comprehensive test of the homeless population in any region of the state held to date.
Connecticut has been applauded for its quick response to isolating and hoteling people experiencing homelessness, and the City of Hartford has been leading the state on testing efforts of the homeless population.  We echo this applause and are so grateful to the City and to Hartford Healthcare for making this possible, and we are happy to report that the testing event today went very smoothly.
Meanwhile, as expected, we have still seen increases in COVID-19 cases among the larger group of Coordinated Access Network agencies and clients.  Eight staff from shelter, housing, and soup kitchens have tested positive, seven clients in shelters have tested positive, four clients in housing programs have tested positive, and three unsheltered clients have tested positive for COVID-19.
We continue to work with our community partners each and every day to face these challenges head on.  We would like to once again recognize all of our partners who deserve thanks for the work that they have been doing:
  • Thank you to Charter Oak Health Center who has recently started providing COVID testing to any homeless clients (symptomatic or not) who request it at Charter Oak Health Center.
  • Thank you to Hartford Public Library for providing laptops to the hotels so that staff can assist clients to use them for job search and career development.
  • Thank you to St. Vincent De Paul and to the Bristol Boys & Girls Club, which have agreed to let homeless individuals use their showers (with safety precautions) to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Thank you to Church of Christ Congregational in Newington for their laundry donation.  They collected over $1200 in quarters and provided tons of laundry detergent.
  • Thank you to Avon Congregational Church for their very generous donation of essential supplies: laundry detergent, toilet paper, and takeout containers
  • Thank you to the Imagineers Foundation for a $10,000 grant
  • Thanks to all of you who participated in this year’s #GivingTuesdayNow on May 5th.  Through your generosity we were able to raise $2500
  • Thank you to all of our friends and supporters who have donated money or supplies
Over the last two months we have been the recipient of incredible generosity from our community.  Because of your efforts we have distributed the following donations:
  • 464 N95 Masks
  • 403 Handmade Masks
  • 3,000 Surgical Masks
  • 38 gallons of Hand Soap
  • $2,206.75 in Quarters
  • 127 Face Shields
  • 145 Boxes of Gloves
  • 87 containers of Hand Sanitizer
  • 14 containers of Bleach
  • 30 containers of Disinfectant
  • 391 rolls of Toilet Paper
  • 43 rolls of Paper Towels
  • 33 Thermometers
As usual, there are many others who have helped in so many ways, and we apologize for not naming them all here, but will do our best to acknowledge them as soon as we can.
With deep gratitude,
Matt and the Journey Home team
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