Support For Transitional Houston Helps Families Get Back On Their Feet
Wind Creek Hospitality donations help families move from homelessness to self-sufficiency.
Wind Creek Hospitality | Published 6:01 a.m. ET Aug. 18, 2020
Wind Creek Hospitality has long been known for its warm welcome to guests and visitors. Fewer people know that the company also provides support and hospitality for a very different group of people: the formerly homeless.
Their support takes the form of ongoing financial partnerships with several local charitable organizations that provide long-term transitional housing to those in need.
One of Wind Creek’s ongoing partners, for example, is the Dumas Wesley Community Center in Mobile, Alabama. Dumas Wesley runs a transitional housing program called the Sybil H. Smith Family Village, which can accommodate up to 17 families at any given time.
Thanks to a $20,000 donation from Wind Creek, the program can cover the costs of an entire family apartment for a year.
“We dedicated apartment 209 on behalf of Wind Creek Hospitality. They have a plaque outside the apartment, and for years to come, families that will be residing in that apartment will know that their support is because of Wind Creek Hospitality,” said Joni Hendee, the marketing and public relations director for the Dumas Wesley Community Center.
Like all of the program’s participants, Dumas Wesley selected the family living in the apartment based on referrals from Housing First as well as a rigorous interview process.
“The family, in particular, that's in the apartment that Wind Creek Hospitality sponsored is flourishing. She is a mother of two. She had difficulty adjusting to her life after her husband passed away unexpectedly, and her kids were not doing well in school. They were living in an abandoned house without running water, and now, after a year in, she's working, she has bought her own car, her kids are on A-B honor roll. It's just great to see these families thrive.
While stable housing for the whole family is an integral part of the Sybil H. Smith Family Village program, the physical housing aspect is only the beginning of helping families succeed. The organization also offers life skills classes to help residents get back on their feet and prepare to get settled into more permanent housing eventually.
Additionally, each adult in the program is linked with a case manager who helps them develop individualized plans to work on the issues that previously led them into homelessness.
“These meetings are vital to the success of our program participants because they really get a sense of what they need to accomplish over the course of the next two years to become self-sufficient. We strive to break the cycle of homelessness through personal and positive growth,” Hendee said.
Last year, Dumas Wesley provided 1,017 case management sessions and 46 life skills classes for families. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve also added phone and online sessions to their programming.
The program has enjoyed high success rates. After two years or fewer in the Sybil H. Smith Family Village, 86% of program participants moved into permanent housing last year and are back on their feet.
Building even further on their efforts to support transitional housing in Alabama, Wind Creek Hospitality also supports a second organization providing a place to stay and a path out of poverty: Jessie’s Place, the women and children’s center of Jimmie Hale Mission.
Wind Creek reached out to the organization last year to see where they could pitch in, said Executive Director Michael Coleman.
“They actually initiated it, which is pretty rare. It just shows that they’re interested in being a good neighbor,” Coleman said.
Coleman knew immediately how they could use the help. Jessie’s place needed a roof fixed and needed two bathrooms upgraded. The improvements helped ensure that Jessie’s place would be a warm, welcoming and homey environment for the people staying there.
“One of the things we're trying to be very sensitive about is not creating an institutional environment. We want to create a home for these women. While they're with us, we want them to feel as if they're at home,” he said.
Creating a comfortable home is the first step to helping the residents of Jessie’s Place prepare to turn their lives around. Once residents are confident that they’re in a safe and trusting environment, the staff at Jimmie Hale Mission work with the women and children at Jessie’s Place to break the cycle of poverty through initiatives such as life skills classes, counseling, resume building and mock interviews, combined with a healthy dose of genuine care and love.
“We're trying to lift up people in poverty and love them dynamically,” Coleman said. “I think real compassion is to say, ‘Look, I get it. You have some real needs right now. So, let's deal with the real needs, and let's put out the fire, but then let's try to develop you in a way where you're not going from fire to fire to fire.”
One thing that both Jessie’s Place and the Sybil H. Smith Family Village have in common is their desire to create lasting relationships with residents even after they leave.
“We always want to be part of their family. This is a lifetime involvement. We will be involved in your life as long as you want us,” Coleman said.
For more information on Wind Creek Hospitality’s partnerships with local charitable organizations, visit windcreekhospitality.com/communityrelations.
Read this article online: USAtoday.com
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