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).
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”.
Twenty-one strangers convene in an unfamiliar place. No cell phones, no TVs, no laptops. They are dropped in the woods late at night with only a map and a mission.
Although it sounds like the promo for a new reality television show, it was the reality for 21 incoming freshmen at Duke University. The nighttime challenge was only the start to an exhausting and exhilarating pre-orientation program in which a team of seven students would spend their week volunteering for Genesis Home.
Project Change, co-sponsored by the Duke Women’s Center and the Kenan Institute for Ethics, is an immersive leadership experience in which new students live, learn, and work in Durham.
Through the program, students compete with a team of peers and select a nonprofit to work with for one week to find ways to solve critical problems.
“Genesis Home stood out because they change people’s lives rather than just giving them something,” said freshman Henry. “They help people change their perception of opportunity.”
On August 13, seven students commenced their work with Genesis Home. Their task: to educate downtown Durham businesses about Genesis Home and entice them to support the organization. Although many of the students had community service experience, corporate outreach was a new challenge.
“We learned that doing the educational part before the fundraising helped them be more receptive,” said freshman David . “The Play House toy store on 9th Street even helped get us an application to get diapers from the Diaper Bank of North Carolina.”
Freshman Jessica agreed. “I personally did not experience a single time a manager or owner refused to at least take one of our fliers. I think that shows how much people in Durham care about improving the community.”
By the end, the group connected with 38 downtown businesses and local organizations. In fact, one business owner turned out to be a former Genesis Home resident who shared her great appreciation for the students’ valuable work.
Project Change earned support from 21 percent of business owners and organizations – through Barrels of Joy, Houses of Hope or in-kind donations. Additionally, Genesis Home also has secured five more donations from local businesses thanks to leads from the students.
All 21 Project Change participants had the opportunity to share a meal with the families and spend the night at Genesis Home in a communal living space without any personal items or toiletries. They experienced, for a moment, what it might be like for new residents.
“Living in a communal living space, you can’t get away,” said David. “Families, even in times of stress, have to pull together.”
And that’s also what the students now see the community must do to end homelessness in Durham.
“A community cannot function well unless all its members are properly cared for,” said Jessica. “The misfortune of some affects us all. Genesis Home helps families get back on their feet.”
One way you can help our families get back on their feet is by supporting the children in our programs. The opportunity to go to summer camp each year gives our youth a fun and productive way to spend their days while allowing their parents/guardians the time they need to work toward independence and housing stability. Please consider making a donation today.