For over twenty-five years we have provided shelter and services to hundreds of families and on average have 30-35 children (with 20 school age children) living in our transitional shelter in downtown Durham. We have operated at capacity for the last five years to meet the unprecedented need resulting from the “Great Recession”. We currently house up to fifteen families at a time.
Genesis Home supports two core programs that serve homeless families with children. We provide quality transitional shelter and support for families through our original program, Family Matters. Family Matters works to increase household income, improve financial literacy, promote family health and wellness, address disabling conditions, and move families into permanent housing as quickly as possible.
Equally important is our commitment to provide enrichment for the children who live in our shelter. All school age children meet with a tutor four times a week to help keep them at or above grade level and to work on their academic strengths and weaknesses. Twice a week volunteer groups meet with our kids to provide enrichment ranging from physical activity to arts and creative pursuits.
The support of our friends in the community not only keeps Genesis Home’s doors open to families in need, but provides them with a stepping stone to a better life. Funding from the community allows our kids to experience quality cultural enrichment programs reaching all ages (0-17) and to attend a summer camp when school is not in session. These types of programs provide our kids a safe, enriched experience that helps them prepare for a brighter future.
Through the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math), program, Durham (NC) Links awarded scholarships for elementary, middle and high school students to participate in STEM-related summer camps. These students have participated in STEM outreach activities of the Durham Science and Everyday Experiences (SEE) program. The scholarship will support the goals of encouraging more students to pursue STEM-related disciplines in higher education and provide financial assistance opportunities for students to engage in STEM-related summer programs. Two high school students, Kamare Hardee and Menefese Kuduma-Cavell will be attending the Intro to iphone App development by Shoder Educational Foundation. During this interactive one-week camp, the students will learn the basics of mobile app development in the context of Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch devices. Michkia Brooks will be attending another Shoder Camp on Forensic science for grades 6-8. This Forensic science experience emphasizes the methods of observing, gathering and analyzing physical evidence to solve mysteries and it’s a significant part of solving crimes and maintaining justice. Another recipient, Makayla Faye Grice will attend the NC Museum of Life and Sciences Engineering Lego Summer Camp experience for grades 3-5, where she will enjoy a week of building, programming, problem-solving fun, LEGO® style! This camp uses award-winning LEGO® WeDo and Mindstorms NXT kits to create an array of robots, a variety of sensors and their creative minds to design , build and program their robots to complete a challenge chosen by the group.
Each summer and during specific school breaks (such as fall and spring break), our families are faced with a stressful dilemma. As parents prepare for independence by working or going back to school to improve their job prospects, the summer break and holidays require them to find child care that is safe and affordable. Almost 90% of the families living at Genesis Home are single female heads of household. Given their limited resources and lack of support, many of our parents wonder how they can keep their jobs or attend school when their children are out of school.
Your support to send our kids to camp and provide culturally enriching programs year round will aid in the development of a well rounded young person. Help support Genesis Home's efforst to send all of our young people to camp!
MAKE A DONATION
Send Our School-aged Children to Summer Camp and Beyond. Here's how your dollars make a difference:
$15 - Lunch box, water and food containers
$30 - One week at day camp for one child
$120 - Four weeks of day camp for one child
$240 - Eight weeks of day camp for one child
By almost any standard, 2014 was the biggest year in Genesis Home’s twenty-five year history. Our efforts to move our families into permanent housing as quickly as possible have resulted in shorter shelter stays, more families served, and more families leaving our program for permanent housing. The agency is serving more than twice as many children as we were only five years ago. Unfortunately we don’t have much time for self-congratulations. Demand for our services continues to be high, with a wait list of over fifty families referred from DSS’ coordinated intake program. This unmet demand and a desire to strengthen our collective approach to ending family homelessness have driven us to form closer relationships with our community partners.
Each and every day, the perseverance and tenacity of the families here at Genesis Home is moving - each is dedicated toimproving their situation and building a better life for their family. Your gift helps families like Malinda and her two sons and three daughters. Just one year ago, Malinda was pregnant and seeking to regain custody of her four children. Her greatest desire was to bring her family back together again under one roof when she heard of Genesis Home. Genesis Home provided her with a place to reunite her family and the opportunity to rebuild her life in the Family Matters program.
Today, Malinda is a graduate of the “Going Places Network” at Dress for Success and has secured part-time employmentwhere she is in enrolled in a management training program. She has secured permanent housing for her family. She credits Genesis Home’s financial literacy and life skills programming for helping her secure permanent housing, and her case manager for helping her set goals and stay focused. “My goal is not to end up back in this situation again; therefore I must make the change,” said Malinda upon graduating from the program.
Finally, we would encourage each of you to consider your motivation and values around supporting Genesis Home and our partners. For our efforts to be successful, your involvement cannot be a once a year occasion. We can’t end family homelessness in December. We need you in April, in July, and throughout the year. Please consider becoming a monthly donor. Mark your calendar to volunteer with us quarterly, monthly, or weekly. The scope of the problem demands that we make service to others a value twelve months a year. We couldn’t do this work without you so THANK YOU for all that you do to support our families and children.
Our journey started as an announcement in the bulletin fishing for interest in forming a Circle of Support at Duke Memorial. A handful of curious people attended an interest meeting and from that, a team of four was formed. We completed training and waited for two months for a family graduating from IHN. Because of our church’s connection to this program we felt that it was important to hold out for a family coming from this specific program rather than another Durham homeless shelter. We officially began working with our family; two parents, one young-adult child, one teenager, and one pre-teen (grandchild) in June 2013.
The goal of Durham Circles of Support, a program of Genesis Home, is to empower formerly homeless families and individuals while providing the support necessary to sustain housing and improve their quality of life. Support Circles are groups of four to 10 people who are matched with a formerly homeless family or individual for a 12 month period. During that time, the Support Circle provides assistance, guidance, support and mentoring with the ultimate goal of helping the family or individual sustain housing and improve their quality of life.
Each of us felt a strong and very personal calling to make this blind commitment. We certainly came to the table blessed with different skill sets and comfort levels. We were naturally weary of expectations and the challenges we would face. We derived our strength from the faith of our personal calling to this mission and the support of one another. We raised funds in the congregation (matched $1000 by the program) to have an emergency pool of money to assist in sustaining housing.
The beginning was heavily focused on helping the family set up home and meet basic needs. We asked the congregation for household donations and you came through. A month into our partnership a team member, Susan Boeler, moved suddenly. Soon thereafter the string of serious and chronic health issues for four of the family members emerged. There have been numerous doctors’ appointments and stays in the hospital. We shifted from working on longer term goals to the immediacy of day to day survival. There were two emergency car repairs that we used program funds for because independent transportation was of vital importance to the family. Funds also enabled us to provide assistance for food and gas during prolonged hospital stays.
While we felt that our family could not catch a break with the constant barrage of health issues and other blockades, since day one they have remained overwhelming positive and always exceedingly grateful. Often the calls to team members are just to check in and to share small joys. Sometimes there are laughing good byes of “Have a boring week!” because we realize that their daily lives often feel like a roller coaster.
A year later health issues remains a prominent focus in their lives, but there have been successes in the adult son’s transitioning to a group home and receiving there needed support services that are greatly enriching his life. The teenage daughter was accepted into the Durham Inner-City Gardening (DIG) program at SEEDS and she is exceeding in that mentorship program. The family lives month to month on the social security disability income for three people and utilizes various community supports to help with basic needs.
It would be hard to recruit people for longer than a twelve months, but a prolonged commitment of eighteen to twenty-four months would boost sustainability due to the myriad of challenges facing those transitioning out of homelessness.
As a team we have been problem solvers, furniture movers, acquirers of goods, mechanics, legal advisers, chauffeurs, feeders, hospital companions, texting/phone buddies, confidants, encouragers and more. Throughout this involved journey we had varying levels of time commitment to the family, but each has been an integral part of the team. The family became comfortable looking to us in the different roles they assigned us and even gave us nicknames. While we don’t have the Circles of Support resources available to us anymore, we are forever connected to this family. It was God’s will for us to come together in the first place and for us to grow in our own ways in this special relationship. We were inspired by their resilience in the face of difficulties – poverty, poor health, and dealing with kids. At times it was very hard to understand what we perceived as their poor choices. There was a great deal of personal conflict and frustration as we put aside our own judgment and bias as we tried to be there as servants of God - to be with them and to try to share in the struggle of life with them. Our struggle wasn’t in the quality of life sense, but rather in the spiritual sense.
Circles of Support has real and immeasurable value for all involved. It is a humbling experience that you need to deliberately decide to become a part of. It is a leap of faith for everyone involved. It requires you get out of your comfort zone – to enter into the lives of people not like you who are a part of the kingdom of God.
We hope that others at Duke Memorial will be inspired to follow our lead and form a new Circle of Support.