First published on Cleveland.com
Joseph’s Home, Lutheran Metropolitan Ministry keep roofs overhead as people rebuild their lives
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 cleveland.com are all part of the group. Contributions can be made online at cleveland.com/goodnewsgiving 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.
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.