Did you know...
Children who experience homelessness are sick twice as many times as other children, have four times the rate of asthma and suffer twice as many ear infections.
To help homeless children beat the odds, Genesis Home created the “5K to $40K Challenge: On Your Mark. Get Set. Achieve!” as part of its participation in the 19th annual Great Human Race. The first $10,000 we raise will send all school-age Genesis Home children to summer camp. Any additional dollars we generate over $10,000 will go toward supporting other youth and family enrichment programs:
“Homelessness shouldn’t be a handicap for our young people,” said Genesis Home’s Executive Director Ryan J. Fehrman. “Supporting Genesis Home in the Great Human Race gives us the resources to ensure that all of our young people have the support and services that they need to be successful.”
Genesis Home is in its 25th year of working to end homelessness for families with children by providing housing and supportive services to foster independence. In 2013, the agency served an all-time high of 110 children through its three programs: Family Matters, Turning Point and Durham Circles of Support.
For just $120, we can send one homeless child to summer camp for eight weeks. Please make a donation today and help homeless kids beat the odds.
 Ellen L. Bassuk, MD, and Steven M. Friedman, Ph.D., Facts on Trauma and Homeless Children, The National Child Traumatic Stress Network, http://www.nctsnet.org/nctsn_assets/pdfs/promising_practices/Facts_on_Trauma_and_Homeless_Children.pdf (2005).
Flying curls, high-pitched giggles, and a flash of tiny white teeth. A little boy sped past me riding a colorful toy truck in the gently sloped parking lot of Genesis Home. His mother carefully watched from the nearby picnic table.
I thought to myself, “This little boy is the face of homelessness.”
Moments like these are a reality check: Homelessness doesn’t discriminate based on age, gender, race, or educational attainment. Sometimes, all it takes is one job loss, one medical catastrophe, or one abusive relationship to shift from stability to perpetual struggle.
A friend recently told me she first realized this fact when she saw a former college classmate in a soup kitchen line. And I have also met a bright college student whose family lived in a shelter during part of her university experience.
Thankfully, Genesis Home is a bright spot. I volunteer because Genesis Home has a 25-year track record of helping families move to permanent housing and secure living wages. I have heard the success stories firsthand, and I am always in awe of the fortitude of those women, men, and kids.
However, there is so much more we need to do. North Carolina experienced a 10 percent increase in family homelessness between 2011 and 2012, according to a 2013 State of Homelessness in America report. At the same time, North Carolina’s median income and per capita spending on public assistance decreased.
Homelessness can only be eliminated when the entire community takes action for change. Please take a moment to renew your support for Genesis Home and the families we serve. Through your contributions, the faces of homelessness will become fewer and far between, taking us another step closer to ending family homelessness in Durham.
We can’t do it without you. Please make a donation today so our families have a better tomorrow.
Melissa AntayaGenesis Home Volunteer
What can you achieve in a month? For Ebbini, a recent graduate of Genesis Home, she and her newborn were able to go from homelessness to permanent housing in just 28 days.
In August 2013, Ebbini was homeless and eight months pregnant. “Throughout my whole pregnancy I was homeless,” said Ebbini. “I was in foster care all my life so I don’t know my family. I had to live in a car and in motels until I could find a place to stay.”
The need to find housing became critical when her doctor said there were complications with her pregnancy and that they would have to induce labor a month earlier than her due date. “I thought I would have to leave my baby at the hospital,” said Ebbini. Fortunately, that was not the case. When her baby arrived, Ebbini called the Durham County Department of Social Services’ Coordinated Intake Program and said that she needed shelter immediately because of her newborn. Thankfully, Genesis Home had room and Ebbini and her baby moved into the shelter in mid-August 2013. During her time here, she worked through our Family Matters program with her Family Services Coordinator Tammy Mauldin and attended therapy sessions. She also continued taking classes to earn her certified nursing assistant (CNA) license.
Through hard work and determination, Ebbini graduated from our program just 28 days later, one of the shortest stays for a household exiting to permanent housing in the agency’s history.
“I would’ve never been able to do it without Miss Tammy,” said Ebbini. “I thought I’d be staying at Genesis Home a lot longer than I actually did, but she really worked with me. Miss Tammy helped me with budgeting and resources to help me get daycare. She helped me get the place I’m staying in right now. She’s still working with me on therapy and other plans.”
In fact, one of the resources Ebbini had access to after graduation was a means to reliable transportation. Genesis Home partners with Wheels4Hope, a faith-based nonprofit organization dedicated to helping low-income families and individuals by providing them reliable, affordable vehicles. Genesis Home referred Ebbini to Wheels4Hope, and in December 2013 she received a car.
When asked how she felt when she received the keys to her car, Ebbini exclaimed, “I was so excited! I can’t even explain how happy I was.”
It also was a great experience for Executive Director of Wheels4Hope John Bush. “To celebrate the gift of independence that a car provides with someone as hard working and gracious as Ebbini was a special moment. When a client has persevered and stands tall through the support offered by Genesis Home, taking hold of the keys to a car is in fact taking hold of a new lease on life. This is why our partnership is vital. It opens the doors to employment, stability, education, and housing options.”
And according to Ebbini, receiving those keys did in fact help her take hold of her new lease on life. Between her job and taking her son to doctor appointments, the car was crucial in her path to independence. “I had been catching the bus everywhere I was going, and it was just starting to get very cold right before I got the car,” said Ebbini. “I didn’t want my son or me to get sick because I wouldn’t be able to go to work. Now I’m able to drive him to his doctor appointments, and I don’t have to rush around to catch the bus to meet clients for work.”
Today, Ebbini is working as a nursing assistant at a local nursing home and is living in her own home. As far as her future, she said she wants to keep moving forward. “I’m hoping to never be homeless again and to make sure my family is safe and healthy. I want to continue my therapy and do what I’m supposed to so that I can do something with my life.”
In the midst of so many challenges, Ebbini achieved housing stability and independence in less than 30 days through perseverance, a commitment to herself and to her family, and a positive attitude. In her actions and attitude, Ebbini has shown all of us the true meaning of the word “fortitude”.