Relationships Put a Human Face on Homelessness for Students

Hawken School Senior Hannah O’Day admits she had preconceptions about the homeless when she signed up for an elective class on homelessness.
Hawken School Students Monica Sass (left) and Hannah O’Day with Joseph’s Home Facilities and Operations Manager Edison Mosley, II at the Joseph’s Home Christmas party.


But when teacher Jack Breisch assigned her and classmate Monica Sass to spend a portion of their fall semester at Joseph’s Home, she was given a unique chance to get to know the issue
– and the people – up close and personal.


O’Day and Sass got to know Joseph’s Home residents over meals and spent time with them playing games, doing puzzles and socializing. They also created time capsule questionnaires for residents to complete at their arrival and again at their discharge.


What did they take away from their time with the residents of Joseph’s Home?


“Through this experience I learned the truth,” said O’Day. “They are normal people just like me.”


The highlight of their field experience at Joseph’s Home was the Christmas party as O’Day and Sass distributed gifts to current and former residents. It was also bittersweet because it was their final day and there were some sad goodbyes.


“I definitely made a few friends along the way,” said O’Day. “Joseph’s Home impacted me immensely and I know Monica and I would both love to spend more time there.”


Joseph’s Home Featured in the 2014 Good News Giving Series

First published on

Joseph’s Home, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry keep roofs overhead as people rebuild their lives

Good News Giving: Donald Martin
Donald Martin, an ex-Marine, was helped by Joseph’s Home recovering from surgery and then in finding a place to live. (Marvin Fong / The Plain Dealer)

on December 09, 2014 at 2:00 PM, updated December 09, 2014 at 2:09 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry and Joseph’s Home don’t build housing. Their mission is much more personal. The agencies rebuild lives and set the people they help on the path to independent living.

The two nonprofits, that temporarily house many of the people they aid, are among 20 area agencies that benefit from contributions made to the Good News Giving 2014 holiday charity campaign of the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

The Plain Dealer, Sun News and are all part of the group. Contributions can be made online at or use the coupon in The Plain Dealer.

Many clients of the Lutheran Ministry and Joseph’s Home suffer with severe health problems and are homeless. Others deal with substance-abuse issues and some even have criminal records.

Rodney Scott, now 53, went to Joseph’s Hometo recover from a surgery in which a significant portion of his colon was removed. He’d been diagnosed with stage-four cancer and told by his doctor that he was “at death’s door and the door is cracked.” He was supposed to die in 2009.

AX204_764F_9.JPGRodney Scott, with his new wife, Saundra, recovered from major surgery with the help of Joseph’s Home, one of the agencies benefiting from this year’s Good News Giving holiday charity drive.

Scott stayed at the home during recovery and while undergoing six months of chemotherapy. Ultimately, he was there nearly two years, during which time he proved the doctor wrong. In 2010, he was found to be free of cancer.

Now the only door that concerns him is the one on his apartment on Cleveland’s West Side, which he shares with his wife, Saundra, whom he married last month.

Joseph’s Home also helped Donald Martin. The Louis Stokes VA Hospital in University Circle diagnosed him two years ago with hypertension and congestive heart failure.

Serious ailments, both, but he can joke that “I turned 53 and the warranty ran out.”

The illnesses brought an end to the livelihood that had sustained him since he mustered out of the Marine Corps in 1981: automobile detailing and body work.

“Doctors told me not to do that kind of work because it was too strenuous and there were toxic fumes, too,” he said.

Martin went to Joseph’s Home last year to continue his recovery and to get help in finding a way to make a living and a place to live.

Joseph’s Home workers helped Martin develop a better diet, and “they help you to get it together with your medications,” he said.

Martin now rents a home on the city’s East Side but has run into another calamity.

He’s been studying IT and computer repair. Just short of certification, he said, the federal government curtailed the Veterans Retraining Assistance Program that was underwriting his training.

Joseph’s Home is on that case, too. Georgette Jackson, the agency’s CEO, said the organization has a liaison with the VA and they will explore other funding sources for Martin.

The organization has beds for 11 men, Jackson said. Since its inception in 2000, the agency has helped 450 men.

The primary goals of Joseph’s Home are to help each resident to stabilize his health, obtain sustainable income and move on to permanent housing.

The home was the idea of a member of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Augustine who was a social worker and noticed that many of the homeless men she encountered were in ill health, but did not meet the criteria for managed care.

Jackson said the home is named for Saint Joseph, one of the order’s patron saints. “Joseph was a carpenter, and Joseph’s Home represents men rebuilding their lives,” she said.

Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry is similarly focused but on a broader swath of humanity. It is jointly held by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod.

The ministry offers a range of services, including a shelter for homeless youth, independent living facilities for youth aging out of foster care, and has a guardianship program in Lorain County.

The largest single entity is the homeless men’s shelter at 2100 Lakeside Avenue, with up to 400 men spending the night there.

Andrew Genszler, the ministry’s CEO, said the adult shelter serves around 10,000 men annually, around half of them transitioning out of prison.

The goal is a sustainable income and independent living for each.

Genszler said the ministry operates two training programs. One is culinary, where participants rotate through the ministry’s central kitchen that prepares meals for six different community locations that serve the homeless. After completing the six-month program, the ministry helps participants gain employment at  restaurants and catering companies.

The other is called Metro Metal Works which manufactures and installs bike racks.

One who has benefited from the metal-work program is a man who recently served five years in prison for statutory rape.

His name is being withheld to give him a chance to re-enter the community.

He has been at the Lakeside shelter for almost a year and has acquired skills in sales, customer service, metal fabrication, logistics and installation.

Since leaving prison, he said the shelter has been “my only support.”

“I do the things I need to do, saving money, getting a driver’s license, learning metal work, selling and assembling bike racks,” he said.

“I’m a critical thinker and I’m not easily impressed, but it’s pretty amazing what they do here every day,” he said. “They treat people like individuals.

“When someone is willing to rebuild his life, this is the only organization to give people a shot,” he said.

Perseverance in Hope 2014 Entertains, Enlightens and Energizes

Georgette Jackson and Paul Meshanko
Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson and Keynote Speaker Paul Meshanko

On June 20, guests of Joseph’s Home’s 2014 Perseverance in Hope event left Windows on the River with the satisfying knowledge that they had helped acutely ill homeless men to heal their lives.

Guests participated in a raffle for an iPad mini and bid on 26 silent auction items, which helped raise more than $39,000 to help acutely ill homeless men recover their health and rebuild their lives at Joseph’s Home.

Attendees also came away empowered to spread wellbeing in their workplaces, families, social networks and communities.

After lunch and a heart-warming program, which included a testimonial from former Joseph’s Home resident Michael Allen and presentation of the 2014 Making A Difference Award to Rosary Hall, keynote speaker Paul Meshanko of Legacy Business Cultures kept the audience engaged with a lively presentation about the power of respect.

Meshanko mixed scientific data about the brain and human behavior with personal anecdotes, pop culture references and audience participation to promote respect as a vital key to unlocking human potential.

Of course, respect is integral to the mission of Joseph’s Home, as revealed in the following statement from Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson on “At Joseph’s Home we fight every day, one man at a time, to create the opportunities that change an individual’s course in life. We see the whole man. We see his spirit, his heart, his character and his passion to be renewed. Joseph’s Home is special. I am proud to share it with you.”

Meshanko closed his presentation by reflecting on Georgette’s quote. With the entire audience standing and holding hands to form an unbroken chain of connection, he urged everyone to devote themselves to the same respectful approach to the people in their lives.

Meshanko’s 2013 book, The Respect Effect, was available for sale after the program. It quickly sold out, with proceeds from book sales at the event donated by Legacy Business Cultures to Joseph’s Home.

The Joseph’s Home team is deeply thankful to Paul Meshanko and everyone who helped make Perseverance in Hope 2014 an incredibly enjoyable and successful event. In particular, we want to acknowledge:

  • Emcee Dawn Kendrick of 19 Action News. Her energy and enthusiasm were contagious. Her professional expertise kept the program moving and her passion for the Joseph’s Home mission of healing lives touched everyone.
  • Orlando Howard and the staff of Rosary Hall, who are distinguished both by their skill and compassion. Joseph’s Home residents are extraordinarily privileged to have access to the excellent substance abuse treatment Rosary Hall provides.
  • The employees of the Sisters of Charity Health System, who volunteered their time the day of the event and in the preceding weeks and months. Their hard work and dedication made things run smoothly, and allowed the Joseph’s Home team to provide guests with a first-rate experience.
  • The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. Their wisdom and courage brought Joseph’s Home into being and their example of service inspires all of us. Their unwavering support of Joseph’s Home means everything to us!
  • The many sponsors and donors whose financial and in-kind contributions made the event possible and whose support is literally saving and restoring lives. Their generosity is both gratifying and humbling.

Visit the event website for more about Perseverance in Hope 2014, including: photos, a link to the slides from Paul Meshanko’s keynote presentation, and full listing of the sponsors and donors.

A Life Transformed: Mr. Baker

Mr. Peterson
At Joseph’s Home, Mr. Baker found the help he needed to maintain his sobriety, stabilize his health and find permanent housing that meets his medical needs

When U.S. Army veteran Mr. Baker decided to get help for his addiction to drugs and alcohol, he knew it would be hard.

What he didn’t know was that the substances he’d been abusing for years had been masking symptoms of multiple physical and psychological ailments, including congestive heart failure, COPD, PTSD, depression and rheumatoid arthritis. “I didn’t know how sick I was until I got cleaned up,” said Mr. Baker.

Through the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center, he received the medical, psychiatric and behavioral treatments he needed to start getting his life back on track. Too medically fragile to transition to independence, he came to Joseph’s Home when his time in the VA’s recovery program ended.

He participated in programming at Joseph’s Home, such as life-skill classes and Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous meetings. He achieved his one-year sobriety anniversary while at Joseph’s Home. Staff Nurse Sister Sandy LoPorto, SSJ-TOSF, taught him to properly manage his many prescriptions. And Housing Locator Erica Fellows helped him find a permanent housing arrangement that includes a low level of medical supervision, which he was able to afford with the help of the VA Aide and Attendance program. He moved into his new home in May.

“The Joseph’s Home staff is wonderful. I don’t think I could have made it without their help to do the things I needed to do,” said Mr. Baker.

2014 Feast of St. Joseph Celebration


Friends and supporters of Joseph’s Home gathered on the Feast Day of St. Joseph for a celebratory Mass and reception at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center.

If you missed it this year, the Feast of St. Joseph falls on March 19 annually. Plan to join us in 2015. We look forward to seeing you!

Special thanks to:

  • Father Gary Chmura and Music Director Matt Fodor of Our Lady of Peace for leading the Mass so beautifully
  • Phil Begalla and the staff of Metz Culinary Management for the delicious food and outstanding service at the reception
  • Sisters of Charity Health System staff Marlo Crowder, Mickey Darr, Kyle Miller and Adrian Stover for volunteering their time to help out
  • Kathleen Burn of the St. Vincent Charity Medical Center Pastoral Care Department for her help with arrangements for the Mass

“Joseph was not big on talking, but was big on loving.” – Father Gary Chmura, in his homily for the 2014 Feast of St. Joseph Mass.

Pictures from the celebration

DSC02231.JPGLeft to right: Mr. Tom Monahan, Mrs. Marianne Monahan, Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine Congregational Leader Sr. Judith Ann Karam, CSA

DSC02211.JPGCuyahoga County Councilwoman Yvonne Conwell (left) and Catholic Community Connections President Sr. Joanne Gross, OSU

DSC02235.JPGLeft to right: Sisters of Charity Health System President & CEO Mr. Terry Kessler, Sr. Miriam Erb, CSA, Sr. Cabrini Ferritto, CSA

DSC02210.JPGMs. Carol Moore (left) and Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson

DSC02243.JPGJoseph’s Home residents Mr. Fernandez (left) and Mr. Cordero

DSC02216.JPGMrs. Kathy Kowalski  and Mr. Laurence Kowalski

DSC02219.JPGMrs. Agnes (Aggie) Maynard and Mr. Robert (Bob) Maynard

DSC02224.JPGMr. Frank Miller and Sr. Marietta Rohr, CSA

DSC02227.JPGLeft to right: Sr. Sharon Anne Yanak, CSA, Sr. Rosella Holloman, CSA, Sr. Sandy LoPorto, SSJ-TOSF

DSC02247.JPGJoseph’s Home Board Members Ms. Helena Oroz (left) and Ms. Nadine Ezzie

DSC02233.JPGMr. John Kealy and Mrs. Carole Kealy

DSC02220.JPGMrs. Donna Lazo and Dr. John Lazo

Joseph’s Home 2014 benefit luncheon to help severely ill homeless men

Joseph’s Home, the only Northeast Ohio organization with the sole mission of helping severely ill homeless men recover their health and stabilize their lives, will hold its signature annual fundraising event Friday, June 20 at 11:30 a.m. at Windows on the River in Cleveland. The event, Perseverance in Hope, celebrates the remarkable healing and achievements of the men who have stabilized their health and transformed their lives at Joseph’s Home. Funds raised will provide meals, shelter and care for the residents of Joseph’s Home.

Paul Meshanko, president & CEO of Legacy Business Cultures, author of The Respect Effect and accomplished business leader, will deliver the keynote address. His talk will focus on the power of affirming relationships to transform lives. Dawn Kendrick, who has been reporting and anchoring at 19 Action News for nearly 13 years, will serve as the emcee for the luncheon.

In addition to Meshanko’s keynote address, Joseph’s Home will present its Community Partnership Award to Rosary Hall and share stories of men whose lives have been changed at Joseph’s Home. The benefit luncheon is open to the public. Tickets begin at $50 and are available for purchase at Sponsorship opportunities begin at $500 and are also available for purchase at

Event:  Perseverance in Hope: Joseph’s Home 2014 Benefit Luncheon

When:  Friday, June 20 at 11:30 a.m.

Where:  Windows on the River, 2000 Sycamore, Cleveland, Ohio

Why:  The benefit luncheon is the signature annual fundraising event for Joseph’s Home

How:  Purchase tickets for $50 here

For more information or to purchase or reserve tickets or sponsorships, visit the event website or contact Joseph’s Home Development Manager Nathan Munn at 216.875.4634 or

About Joseph’s Home

Joseph’s Home, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, provides a nurturing, caring environment for men without resources who have acute medical needs, helping them heal and achieve independence. It is the only Northeast Ohio organization with the sole mission of helping severely ill homeless men recover their health and stabilize their lives.

Founding Sister Returns to Help Out In a Pinch

Sr. Regina & Tatjana
Tatjana (left) and her temporary replacement, Sr. Regina

Joseph’s Home is a busy place and Administrative Coordinator Tatjana Trubaic helps keep the wheels turning smoothly. She answers the phone and door, writes meeting minutes and handles a variety of administrative duties for Executive Director Georgette Jackson.

When Tatjana went on maternity leave for the final three months of 2013, the wheels looked a little wobbly because the budget had no funds to pay a temp. Thankfully, a fully trained volunteer was ready and eager to fill her shoes.

Sister Regina Fierman, CSA, jumped at the chance to help out when she heard about the need at Joseph’s Home. Sister Regina played a key role in laying the groundwork for Joseph’s Home and  also worked as the house manager from 2000 until 2009, when she took a position in congregational leadership. Her role there ended in the summer of 2013, leaving her free for the rest of the year.

“It was wonderful to have Sister Regina back with us,” said Executive Director Georgette Jackson. “It’s obvious that working with people to overcome challenges is part of her calling. Plus, because of her familiarity with our programs and clientele, she didn’t miss a beat.”

Tatjana had a healthy baby boy (Mateo) October 2 and returned to her position January 2. Sister Regina is currently working on plotting her course in ministry for the next few years, and is taking a course in creative writing.

A Life Transformed: Mr. Peterson

Mr. Peterson
Mr. Peterson is thrilled to have safe, permanent housing

When he arrived at Joseph’s Home in August 2013, Mr. Peterson sensed that his life was about to change for the better. “I felt safe,” he said. “I got a room. I can put my stuff there and it will still be there.”

Not long before, safety had been an issue for Mr. Peterson. He lost nearly all his vision to glaucoma in late 2012 and could no longer support himself as a grill/prep cook. By June 2013, he was in a Cleveland homeless shelter, where he was an easy target for bullies and thieves, who took his glasses, shoes and medication.

The shelter referred Mr. Peterson to Joseph’s Home, where the case management and nursing staff helped him get optical care and find suitable permanent housing. He also completed an eight-week class at the Cleveland Sight Center, which taught him to live independently with severe vision impairment.

Mr. Peterson graduated from Joseph’s Home and moved into his new apartment just before the New Year. Continuity of Care Specialist Erica Fellows checks in on him regularly and remains in close contact with other agencies to ensure that Mr. Peterson’s transition to independence continues safely and smoothly.

Collaboration Between Joseph’s Home and Tri-C Benefits Students, Homeless Clients

Acutely ill homeless men arrive at Joseph’s Home in Cleveland’s Central Neighborhood knowing they will receive a range of services to help recover their health and successfully transition to permanent housing. Nursing care, case management, wellness counseling and financial counseling are the most common needs.

But, behind the success of each man who completes the Joseph’s Home program, there’s another key element: occupational therapy. Occupational therapists and assistants help patients who are dealing with illness, injury or developmental delays to gain the skills they need to function and succeed in daily life. For seven years, students in the occupational therapy assistant (OTA) program at Cuyahoga Community College have been coming to Joseph’s Home for field experience.

Preceptor Debbra Harbst Lisy, M.A., OTR/L teaches in the Tri-C OTA program and assigns students to sites for field work. In her opinion, Joseph’s Home presents a unique opportunity for training.

“Being at Joseph’s Home helps students to see some of the non-traditional ways occupational therapy can be involved in a patient’s recovery, and to practice non-traditional intervention techniques,” says Lisy.

The students aren’t the only ones to benefit from the field experience. The trainees’ time at Joseph’s Home gives them an opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of residents. For example, according to Lisy, students Demetrius Collier and Deanna Mixon learned that Joseph’s Home residents were struggling to organize their belongings and paperwork effectively – to the point that the disorganization could interfere with their access to care. The students worked with the residents to help them gain the organizational skills they needed to overcome this challenge.

Sister Regina Fierman, CSA is a certified OTA and a 1995 alumnus of Tri-C’s program. She was instrumental in the founding of Joseph’s Home and worked there from 2000 to 2009. It was through her efforts that Joseph’s Home and Tri-C formed their partnership.

Reflecting on the value of occupational therapy services for Joseph’s Home residents, Sister Regina said, “The men at Joseph’s Home come with various medical issues. While I was on staff there, I was able to apply the skills that I learned as an OTA to help them to regain the ability to take care of themselves. This definitely helped in getting them prepared to move into permanent housing.”

Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson believes so strongly in the value of providing occupational therapy services for Joseph’s Home residents that she serves on the advisory committee of the Tri-C OTA program.

“Tri-C sends us students who are prepared and willing to help,” says Jackson. “It’s a pleasure to have them at Joseph’s Home and I can’t say enough about the value that they provide for our residents.”

Joseph’s Home, Family Promise of Greater Cleveland give shelter from the storm of poverty, illness

First published on

Wendell Kimbrough loves the view from his Euclid Avenue apartment, especially in summer when people watching is at its best. Kimbrough was very sick from multiple failed hip replacements when Joseph’s Home, a facility for homeless men with acute medical problems, gave him a place to live and help in dealing with his health. (Lynn Ischay/The Plain Dealer)

on January 01, 2014 at 6:00 AM, updated January 01, 2014 at 4:56 PM

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Joseph’s Home gives homeless men with acute medical problems a place to stabilize by giving them shelter, often for months at a time.

For Wendell Kimbrough though, the agency’s saving grace happened in a matter of hours.

“The day they accepted me, if I hadn’t gone there, I would have been on the street and died,” Kimbrough, 62, said recently at the Cleveland apartment where he now lives.

Joseph’s Home, located in a former convent near St. Vincent Charity Medical Center, as well as Family Promise of Greater Cleveland in Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood, supply refuge to people who otherwise might be forced to sleep in chilly cars, along bleak freeways or on a friend’s cramped couch because they lack one of the most basic human needs.

Family Promise serves a different niche than Joseph’s Home in the homeless world — families with children.

Latasha Burrell was working as a housekeeper in Detroit in 2012 when bills and late fees spun out of control. She was on the verge of eviction, and shelters in Detroit turned her away because she had five children.

She took her search for help to the Internet. She was desperate. Then she hooked up with Family Promise.

The agency and Joseph’s Home offer homelike settings — private rooms and small apartments — in contrast to the noise, chaos and crowded quarters common to homeless shelters. They are among 20 nonprofits chosen by readers of the Northeast Ohio Media Group to receive money from its Good News Giving holiday charity drive.

To make a secure donation, go to or use the contribution form printed in The Plain Dealer. The 20 nonprofits, as well as 30 other agencies, also get free advertising in The Plain Dealer, Sun News and on

The living room of the apartment where Kimbrough moved in June 2012 overlooks the Shops at Church Square at Euclid Avenue and East 79th Street. From a narrow balcony he can point out the turret of the James A. Garfield Monument at Lake View Cemetery and a bell tower on Euclid Avenue, still standing after demolition of St. Agnes Church.

Urban studies is an interest of Kimbrough. He has taken classes in the field at Cuyahoga Community College. It is one of the ways, along with getting his own apartment, in which Kimbrough has found a degree of self-sufficiency after near-fatal medical problems left him with no place to go.

In a peach-colored sweater, Cleveland Browns cap and with a ready smile, Kimbrough doesn’t dwell on his medical condition. But he has no hips and is mostly confined to a wheelchair.

Multiple failed hip replacements left Kimbrough’s finances in tatters in 2011. He lost his apartment and was sleeping at the home of an acquaintance and in bus stations. Then a space opened at the 11-bed Joseph’s Home. The day Kimbrough arrived he collapsed from an intestinal hemorrhage.

“I bled out. I was cold to the touch,” Kimbrough said. As he recalls the day, he struggles to retain his composure. Yet, the emotion he shows is out of gratitude.

“The holy ghost came out of nowhere and warmed my heart and soul until the paramedics got there,” he said.

Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson said the nonprofit is serving significantly sicker men than a few years ago, perhaps because of a growing population without health insurance.

“We’ve seen people with up to seven or eight different medical problems going on,” she said.

Besides acute medical conditions, job loss can leave people without a roof over their heads. Foreclosure, lack of health insurance and low wages also push people on the street, say agencies that serve the homeless.

The average real annual income of working poor people in the U.S. was $9,413 in 2010, the National Alliance to End Homelessness reported. The study could find no county in the nation where a family with an average income of $9,400 could afford fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment.

Joseph’s Home is a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System. Its residents arrive from local hospitals, emergency shelters and clinics. The average length of stay is almost five months. The home is typically full.

Michael Allen ended up there in October 2010, after the concrete worker’s back and kidneys were injured in a fall from a three-story building. He had been helping put on a roof in a side job to earn money for the holidays.

The kidney damage is permanent. He needs dialysis and a dresser top of prescription drugs to stay alive. He fell behind on his bills and rent.

A worker from Joseph’s Home who came to pick him up found him despondent. Allen said he thought he was being taken to a dangerous and ugly shelter.

But the nurse said, ” ‘Wait til you get there. I think you’ll be surprised,’ ” Allen recalled.

He was. Flabbergasted, in fact.

“It was just like a hotel room. Nice bedding. Clean. It was private. You felt safe. It was comfortable,” he said.

Still, his losses were keen. He not only was badly injured, he lost all the belongings in his Bedford apartment during his sudden move.

“Everything I had worked for,” the 60-year-old said.

Joseph’s House social worker Rodney Dial stepped in.

“It took him about four days to crack my egg, and when he cracked it, I opened up,” Allen said. “He told me, ‘You fell but you got back up.’ “

Allen now lives at Euclid Beach Villa. He visits Joseph’s Home on his way to and from dialysis. He sits on the Joseph’s Home Alumni Board.

“It’s kind of hard to walk right now, but I’m still standing,” Allen said. “I may not have what I had back then, but I have the greatest gift, and that’s that I’m living.”

Latasha Burrell moved with her children to Northeast Ohio when Family Promise could get them into its emergency shelter program, which it operates in coordination with more than 70 local faith congregations.

The organization also has 14 two- and three-bedroom apartments on Kinsman Road in Cleveland. The agency also backstops families once they move into permanent housing through regular visits to provide guidance on budgeting, job retention and child care.

“Our goal is to help them prepare so when they hit life experiences that challenge them,  they can work through it,” development director Yvette Hanzel said.

In August, Burrell and her children moved into a townhouse that she can afford because of full-time work as a cashier for MetroHealth Medical Center.

“I really feel like I accomplished a lot in the little time I was there,” Burrell, 26, said of Family Promise. “They have a beautiful staff. They keep you going and motivated.”

Joan Maser, executive director of the nonprofit, said homelessness can be traumatic. “No matter how much or how little you have, it’s a destabilizing place to find yourself,” she said.

India Marshall worked hard on job readiness after she landed at Family Promise with her four-year-old daughter. Marshall promised herself that as soon as she was stable, she would get certified as a computer numerical control machinist.

Marshall left Family Promise after finding a job with 1-800-FLOWERS, moving into her own apartment almost two years ago. She enrolled at Cuyahoga Community College for  machinist training and is completing the second of three semesters needed for a certificate.

The goal after that is a four-year industrial engineering degree.

“I’ve always wanted to do it. I like making things, creating things,” she said. “Family Promise helped show me the strength that I already had in myself.”

To contact Joseph’s Home, go to, or call 216-685-1551. To contact Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, go to, or call 216-767-4060.