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 Cleveland.com

kimbrough.jpg
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 cleveland.com/goodnewsgiving 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 Cleveland.com.

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 www.josephshome.com, or call 216-685-1551. To contact Family Promise of Greater Cleveland, go to www.familypromise.org, or call 216-767-4060.

New Partnership Provides Wellness Care for Joseph’s Home Residents

When a resident is admitted to Joseph’s Home, the stress and pain of his situation doesn’t disappear overnight. That’s why mental and emotional health care are equally as important as the medical care Joseph’s Home residents receive. Thanks to a generous grant from the Woodruff Foundation, Joseph’s Home is pleased to welcome the Centers for Families and Children (CFC) as the new contracted provider of wellness care for Joseph’s Home residents.

Counselor Curtis Donald (right) meets with a Joseph's Home resident

Counselor Curtis Donald (right) meets with a Joseph’s Home resident

The Wellness Program provides Joseph’s Home residents with access to high quality mental and emotional health care. CFC Licensed Counselor Curtis Donald is on site at Joseph’s Home a couple days each week to perform assessments, group sessions and individual counseling.

 “Homelessness is a huge stressor in its own right, and frequently compounds pre-existing mental or emotional health issues. Managing those issues is vital to our resident’s ability to succeed in their transition to independence,” said Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson.

 “My mission is to help the residents develop the ability to safely interact with others and to develop a routine for wellness enhancement,” said Donald.

Donald preaches the benefits of holistic wellness and addresses a broad range of topics in his interactions with Joseph’s Home residents. Subjects covered include: stress management, social skills development, resiliency skills building, healthy relationships, coping skills and anger management.

Joseph’s Home is deeply grateful to the Woodruff Foundation and CFC for their partnership in providing residents with the wellness care they need to rebound from homelessness.

A (Veteran’s) Life Transformed

Monday November 11 is Veterans Day. Please remember to honor and thank the brave men and women who have served our country.

Joseph’s Home considers it a privilege to help homeless veterans recover their health and heal their lives. Today we salute one of our most recent veteran graduates.

Mr. Dorgan is a longtime restaurant worker and U.S. Air Force veteran. He lost the job he loved just weeks after the 2008 housing market crash and just two months after the sudden death of his mother.

Unable to find full-time work in a tough job market, he became homeless earlier this year. Compounding his challenges, he had a recurrence of bladder cancer that had been in remission since 1996.

He alternated between a bed in the Louis Stokes VA Medical Center and a homeless shelter for several months while he underwent two surgeries and received chemotherapy. Because of his medical needs, Joseph’s Home was recommended as the right place for Mr. Dorgan to recover his health and heal his life, and he was admitted in June.

Since beginning another round of chemo in September, Mr. Dorgan’s health has stabilized and he has a positive prognosis. The Joseph’s Home staff helped him find an apartment within easy walking distance of the VA Medical Center and he got his keys last week.

Residents Keep Their Cool With New Air Conditioning

RESIDENTS KEEP THEIR COOL WITH NEW AIR CONDITIONING

For years the residents, staff and board of Joseph’s Home have longed for the day when all resident rooms and common areas would have air conditioning. On sweltering summer days, the indoor temperatures in many rooms can become uncomfortably high, which creates an unnecessary challenge for residents who need rest and reduced stress to heal.

Thanks to generous funding support from The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation, The Higley Fund, a supporting organization of the Cleveland Foundation, and The Nord Family Foundation, that dream is now a blissfully cool reality.

Over the course of a month, a contractor installed necessary electrical upgrades before cooling units were installed in the walls of each room. Their installation required cutting holes through exterior walls for each unit. On August 5, 2013 the units began cooling residents.

See pictures of the work in progress on our Facebook page. Look for more photos and details about this project in our Fall 2013 newsletter.

Joseph’s Home Announces 2013 Benefit Luncheon

Cleveland, Ohio (May 17, 2013) – 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 Thursday, June 27 at 11:30 a.m. at the DoubleTree Hotel Cleveland Downtown—Lakeside. Dick Russ, former WKYC and WJW television news anchor and current vice president of resource development for North Coast Community Homes, will deliver the keynote address at the event, which is titled “Perseverance in Hope: The 2013 Joseph’s Home Benefit Luncheon.”

In addition to Mr. Russ’ keynote address, Joseph’s Home will present its Community Partnership Award to Catholic Charities 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 josephshome.com. Sponsorship opportunities begin at $500 and are also available for purchase at josephshome.com.

Event:  Perseverance in Hope: The 2013 Joseph’s Home Benefit Luncheon
When: Thursday, June 27 at 11:30 a.m.
Where: DoubleTree Hotel Cleveland Downtown, 1111 Lakeside Avenue, Cleveland, Ohio
Why: The benefit luncheon is the signature annual fundraising event for Joseph’s Home
How: Purchase tickets for $50 at josephshome.com

For more information about Joseph’s Home or the benefit luncheon, contact Joseph’s Home Executive Director Georgette Jackson by email at info@josephshome.com or by phone at 216. 685.1551.

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.

###

Contact:
Rebecca Gallant
Sisters of Charity Health System
216-696-8408 (office)
216-288-0239 (mobile)

rgallant@sistersofcharityhealth.org

Mural Brings New Life to Joseph’s Home Entryway

When Hawken School students offered to paint a mural at Joseph’s Home, someone had to decide what they would paint.

The students turned to the residents themselves. At a brainstorming meeting in early spring, the residents requested a floral theme. Thinking of themselves as seeds, they suggested that the flowers represent the growth and blossoming that happens in them during their time at Joseph’s Home.

Students from Hawken School and Chagrin Falls Park Community Center completed the painting over a period of several weeks. They were led by Hawken teacher Jack Breisch and his wife Mary Ann Breisch, who is a professional artist and education director at the community center.

The mural has significantly brightened the Joseph’s Home entryway. Joseph’s Home thanks Jack and Mary Ann Breisch and all the students who contributed to the mural project. Their painting is a constant reminder of the beauty that results when we find the right place to grow.

Entryway Mural
Pictured from left to right: Chagrin Falls Park Community Center Education Director Mary Ann Breisch, Chagrin Falls Park Community Center student Deameon Stewart, Chagrin Falls Park Community Center CAAP Coordinator Aaron Cephus and Jack Breisch.

2013 Feast of St. Joseph Celebration

FEAST OF ST. JOSEPH 2013

On Tuesday, March 19 over 50 supporters and friends of Joseph’s Home gathered at St. Vincent Charity Medical Center to celebrate the Feast of St. Joseph and to recognize over 450 generous organizations, foundations and individuals who supported Joseph’s Home financially in 2012.

Father Neil Kookoothe of The Church of St. Clarence in North Olmsted officiated a Mass in honor of St. Joseph. Father Isidore Munishi of St. Vincent Charity Medical Center and Father Michael Franz of St. Stephen Roman Catholic Church served as concelebrants. Danny O’Brien of The Church of St. Clarence served as musician.

In his homily, Father Kookothe looked to the altars at St. Joseph’s Oratory of Mount Royal in Montreal for insight into St. Joseph’s life and legacy. One of those altars – Hope of the Sick – highlights his ministry of healing. Others such as Model of Workers and Consolation of the Afflicted point us to his concern for ordinary people and their suffering. The homily left all who heard it with an increased appreciation for St. Joseph and a deeper understanding of what a fitting namesake he is for Joseph’s Home.

After Mass, the guests enjoyed a breakfast reception with food provided by Metz Culinary Management.

The board, staff and residents of Joseph’s Home would like to thank Fr. Neil Kookoothe, Fr. Isidore Munishi, Fr. Michael Franz and Danny O’Brien for their help with the Mass. We would also like to thank Phil Begalla and his team from Metz Culinary Management for providing a great meal and outstanding service.

Most of all, we would like to thank our friends who support the healing mission of Joseph’s Home through their prayers, donations and volunteer service. We enjoyed our time with you and hope to see you again soon!

Sr. Joan Gallagher and Sr. Carole DeCrane
Sr. Joan Gallagher, CSA (Left) and Sr. Carole DeCrane, CSA, both of Lakewood

Marie and Andrew Hirsch
Marie and Andrew Hirsch of Strongsville

Sr. Sandy LoPorto, Sheryl Smith & Jean Shirtliff
From left to right: Joseph’s Home Staff Nurse Sr. Sandy LoPorto, SSJ-TOSF, Sheryl Smith of Cleveland Heights and Jean Shurtleff of Cleveland
Sr. Regina Fierman
Sr. Regina Fierman, CSA of Richfield
Sr. Jane Lab & Sr. Denise Stiles
Sr. Jane Lab, CSA (left) of Cleveland and Sr. Denise Styles, CSA of Ravenna
Audrey Fellows
Audrey Fellows of East Cleveland
Deb Zemanek and Kathleen Kowalski
Deb Zemanek (left) of Northfield and Kathleen Kowalski of North Ridgeville
Larry Kowalski and Mark Weidt
Larry Kowalski (left) of North Ridgeville and Mark Wiedt of Westlake
Sr.Theresa Bontempo and Teresa Andreani
Sr. Theresa Bontempo, CSA (left) of Cleveland and Teresa Andreani of Lakewood
Kay Vine and Sr. Marian Durkin
Kay Vine (left) of Bay Village and Sr. Marian Durkin, CSA of Lakewood
Frank Loiacono, Fr. Michael Franz & Fr. Isidore Munishi
From left to right: Frank Loiacono of Bay Village, Fr. Michael Franz of Cleveland and Fr. Isidore Munishi of Cleveland
Kathy Heigle, Nadine Ezzei & Helena Oroz
From left to right, Joseph’s Home board members Kathy Heigle (chair), Nadine Ezzie (secretary) and Helena Oroz

Partner Profile: Hawken High School Student Recounts His “Little Miracle” at Joseph’s Home

Adapted from Jacob Dennis’ paper, “A Little Miracle.”

Jacob DennisChilly December air greeted my face—but the cold wasn’t the reason I shivered as I carried my cello and music stand to the door of Joseph’s Home.

The day before, Mr. W., a former Joseph’s Home resident, having learned that I play cello, had proposed that we play some Christmas carols together for the residents. Although he was exuberant about the idea, I was more than a bit nervous. After all, here was this guy I barely knew asking me to play with him. Not knowing many Christmas carols on the cello by heart, I was unsure how we would sound and worried that a poor performance would crush his spirit—and possibly bruise my ego.

But his eagerness had prevailed. So here I was, very unsure of what would happen in the next couple of hours. After a few minutes of anxious waiting, Mr. W. arrived.

“Hey Jacob, where’s your stuff?” he asked brightly. “I brought my guitar and violin along, and some music.”

As we began to set up, Mr. W. couldn’t stop gushing about how excited he was. “Thanks for doing this. Do you have the music? You know, I built this violin myself. Got scrap parts and stuff.”

Getting out an old, cracked, weathered violin, he attempted to tune it. After struggling with the E string for a while, he handed it to me.

Gingerly, I picked up the violin. A large crack had developed along the rough front of the instrument; clearly, it was in dire need of professional care. Perhaps even reincarnation as a doorstop. I was doubtful that it could ever be properly tuned in its current state. The butterflies in my stomach multiplied.

“Ah, well,” I thought to myself. “Might as well try to fix this as well as I can.” I started to turn the peg, plucking as I turned to gauge the pitch. Plink. Plink. Plink. Pliiiaauunnnkk. The peg slipped, dropping the pitch a good half-octave.

“Yeah, you might have to spit in it to get it to stay,” Mr. W. suggested. Resolute, I began tightening the string again. Plink. Plink. Plink. TWANG! The string snapped. Mortified, I started apologizing profusely to Mr. W. “Ah, it’s all right,” he counseled. “I can play on the other three strings.” As he checked the tuning of the other strings, I went back to my cello. Embarrassed by having broken the string, I tried in vain to calm my nerves.

“This isn’t going to work out at all,” I thought to myself. “I’ve messed up his violin. We’re going to sound out of tune… oh, this is going to be awful and embarrassing for both of us.”

Fortunately, I was wrong.

Starting with “Amazing Grace,” Mr. W. and I each began to get a feel for how the other played. As he played a bluesy version of the melody, I attempted to harmonize. Bit by bit, we improved. Slowly, the knot of tension within my stomach began to dissolve. Mr. W., meanwhile, was absolutely ecstatic.

For a good two hours we played away, experimenting with Spanish music, some blues and a ton of improvisation. We made some missteps, but as time passed our styles blended in a way I never expected. Unfortunately, we had to stop when I was at risk of missing my bus. As we started to pack up, Mr. W. approached me, almost in tears.

“Thank you so much for this, Jacob,” he said. “I can’t say how much this means to me. Together, we sounded great. You know, last night I was nervous about doing this. I didn’t know if you wanted to do it or if we might sound bad. But you know what? We sounded great! Thanks.”

A little flustered by the sudden outpouring of emotion, I could only stammer that he was more than welcome, and he should feel free to call me if he wanted to do this again. Still surprised and slightly confused, I hurried towards the door. Had we really sounded that great?

I’m still not sure how we sounded. But I know something beautiful happened on that cold December day.

Jacob Dennis is a senior at Hawken School. He lives in Euclid and is a member of the Hawken Strings Orchestra.