Last week we discussed BRIDGES, which is an organization working to unite and inspire diverse young people to become confident and courageous leaders committed to community transformation. This week, let us highlight an organization focused on keeping homeless families together by providing free, temporary housing and the means to re-establish their independence: the Dorothy Day House of Hospitality (DDHH).
As Sister Maureen Griner, one of the founders, states, “The Dorothy Day House of Hospitality was started with prayer.” Back in 2002, prayer led to an appreciation for the efforts of Dorothy Day, who in the early 1930s founded the Catholic Worker Movement with Peter Maurin. The volunteer-based organization served the poor and homeless and opened houses of hospitality to offer support. The DDHH in Memphis, which opened in 2006, is an updated approach to dealing with the needs and realities of homeless families in our community.
Centrally located at 1429 Poplar Ave., the DDHH is just that – a beautiful old house. It is walking distance to grocery stores and schools and has no signage out front. In reality, this house is a blessing and a much needed “pause” in life for families going through hardship and homelessness. The house provides families with basic necessities and safe shelter. And, with assistance from volunteers, the ministry team helps these families identify causes of their homelessness, mentors them and sets achievable goals to move toward self-sufficiency.
Sister Maureen and her team already have a number of heartfelt success stories, like helping a young mother graduate college and now live on her own, employed and finishing her M.A. Part of their success stems from their focus and innovative template, which is scalable. One of their primary focuses is on situational homelessness, arising when families living paycheck to paycheck suffer a loss of job, car wreck or house fire.
By providing a free “pause” in life and a chance to save money with a support network in place, they afford families an opportunity to get back on their feet again. Because the DDHH is funded solely through donations from individuals and charitable organizations and comprised of volunteers, they are able to keep overhead costs low and treat each family as a unique entity. They are also able to keep the entire family together, which is uncommon with other agencies.
There are many easy ways to help their efforts. Consider donating household items, like paper towels, light bulbs, laundry supplies or liquid hand soap. They also need help with general upkeep, like lawn maintenance. You may volunteer your services to help families through mentoring or simply serve a dinner. Their Annual Family Fun Ride comes up on April 20, which is another great way to show support.
I encourage you to learn more by visiting www.dorothydaymemphis.org or calling Sister Maureen at 726-6760.
Jeremy Park, director of the Lipscomb Pitts Breakfast Club, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter (@lpbreakfastclub) and Facebook (facebook.com/lpbreakfastclub).