A Path Toward the Future

Stephen is a 23 year old young man who was born and raised in East Baltimore, Maryland. As a preteen, Stephen started exploring the City on his own and found himself making bad decisions about the direction of his life. Being a very private person who guards his family story and traumatic experiences close to his heart, Stephen knew he had to make some serious life changes. 

As a result of sleeping in his car for almost a year and a half, Stephen’s friend mentioned that St. Ambrose may be able to help. The path towards his future began with him being accepted into the Host Home Program at St. Ambrose. The process was a smooth transition for Stephen because it provided him a place to stay with a much higher level of comfort. He currently lives with a Host Home provider in West Baltimore with another associate of the St. Ambrose family. Today, Stephen is learning to become a professional driver.

If you are considering hosting a youth in your home, this is Stephen’s message to you: “I would like for people to have respect, faith, and patience with the youth and try to understand where they are coming from. Home to me is a place where you KNOW you can go anytime; somewhere you feel safe and comfortable.”

Interested is learning more about Homesharing and the Host Home Program at St. Ambrose? While we are not currently creating new matches at this time, Homesharing at St. Ambrose is still here for you. For questions or concerns, please reach out to us by calling 410-366-8550 ext. 248.

One Day at a Time

Jasmines’ story is one that resonates with many inner city youth.

Jasmine Garland, 20, was born and raised in Baltimore, Maryland and has spent the majority of her life living in East Baltimore. Jasmine’s mother was not present in her life and her father was very inconsistent in his role as her parent so, she often spent her childhood being cared for by her loving Aunt Barbara. As a teenager, Jasmine worked hard to graduate from Reach Partnership High School in 2017 and continued her education with Baltimore City Community College. However, life experiences dealt Jasmine several roadblocks which caused her to halt her educational pursuits.

During this time, Jasmine found herself homeless and living on the streets of Baltimore in abandoned houses. One day, she made the decision to seek help from the Joy Baltimore Program directed by Mr. Lonnie Walker. It was difficult for some to believe that she was homeless because of the way she carried herself; but it was all true. Mr. Walker then introduced Jasmine to St. Ambrose. At the moment, Jasmine admits that this was the happiest she had ever been! She was about to finally be off the street and living in a home, which was an accomplishment Jasmine hadn’t imagined possible. Unfortunately, tragedy came knocking at Jasmines’ door and she learned that her dear Aunt Barbara had passed away. She would now be faced with living her life without the one person who had always been her guide. But Jasmine tried her best to move forward.

The grief and loss began to settle in and Jasmine started to become more and more depressed. At times, Jasmine found herself in a room where everyone was there to celebrate her accomplishments, but she still felt alone. St. Ambrose stepped in to provide therapeutic intervention and Jasmine decided to continue services to address those feelings of grief and loss, one day at a time. During this period, St. Ambrose helped Jasmine connect with a home provider who welcomed her into their safe place that she could call home.

Since then, Jasmine has transitioned from the home sharer’s home to a more independent St. Ambrose program call Hope House. Hope House houses youth (18-24) who need more than the 90 days that the Host Home Program offers to prepare them for long-term sustainable housing. Program participants live in one of our two Hope House properties and receive case management services from St. Ambrose staff. In Hope House, Jasmine shares a home of her own with one other Youth participant.

“The process was very difficult for me because I had to get used to living with other people and calling the house ‘my home’. When I was living in an abandoned building, I isolated myself from everyone, and I was comfortable that way.”

Jasmine’s message to those considering sharing their home is simple:

“If you allow someone to move into your home, please take the time to get to know the person and set clear rules and expectations. We, as youth, need guidance and structure, not indifference.”

Interested is learning more about Homesharing and the Host Home Program at St. Ambrose? While we are not currently creating new matches at this time, Homesharing at St. Ambrose is still here for you. For questions or concerns, please reach out to us by calling 410-366-8550 ext. 248.

Welcome New Staff!

We have a new addition to the Homesharing staff here at St. Ambrose! Please welcome Laura Bullock, Youth Homesharing Case Manager.

“I chose to come work at St. Ambrose because I believe in the mission which aligns with my personal commitment to support individuals in obtaining and maintaining adequate housing to prevent homelessness. I am motivated to give back to my community because I believe individuals can change when they have the support, guidance and resources they need to draw on their own strengths and abilities to move towards a pathway of healing.”

“The purpose of human life is to serve, to show compassion, and the will to help others.”- Albert Schweitzer

Welcome to the St. Ambrose family!

Welcome New Staff!

The St. Ambrose family is growing! Please join us in welcoming one of the newest additions to the St. Ambrose team, Curtis McNeil.

Curtis is one of St. Ambrose’s Youth Homesharing Case Managers.

“I believe in the redemptive quality of human beings and the quote that I try to live by was said by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. ‘We will not remember the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friend’. That is why I chose to come work with St. Ambrose because it provides me the opportunity to not only be a voice in course correction, but to be an avenue for the course which a person may take.”

A Match Made at Home

Ms. D. and Ms. L. were first matched in 2009 and have been Homesharing together for 11 years!

A Homesharing Case Manager with St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center met with Ms. D. to begin the process of finding her perfect Homesharing match. In the next few days, Ms. D. met a couple of potential homesharers but in 2009, she decided to choose Ms. L. to share her home with.

Even though Ms. L. had already had one stroke, she was still able to take care of herself and remain independent. When a second stroke hit Ms. L., she was taken to a skilled nursing facility in order to regain her health. Ms. L.’s sister was unable to take care of her so Ms. D. made the decision to step up to the plate for her long-time friend who needed her help.

Ms. D. and Ms. L. were once strangers, now great friends. Ms. D. has been the primary caregiver to Ms. L. since 2012 and now the pair is inseparable. The two friends are also cross-country travelers venturing on trips to Connecticut, Delaware and even Las Vegas!

Ms. D. said, “Homesharing is an excellent program that provides companionship and someone to talk to and go places with. I’m retired now but am working part-time which is why Homesharing has been a wonderful match for me.”

Host Home Program for Homeless Youth

In June 2017, key stakeholders in Baltimore assembled to kick off the city’s first Host Home Program for homeless youth, particularly those who identify as LGBTQ. The program identifies, screens, and trains community members who volunteer to host youth aged 18-24 who are in need of immediate housing.

You can help us fight youth homelessness by being one of our Hosts for young adults. Hosts receive a stipend and ongoing support from the Host Home Coordinator during their time in the program. If interested in participating in our upcoming training or just want to learn more about Host Homes, please contact Renee Stainrod at:

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center
321 East 25th Street
Baltimore , MD 21218
410-366-8550 x233
860-532-8835 (Cell)
410-366-8795 fax
Renees@stambros.org

Our 2-part monthly Host training schedule is as followed:

  • December 15th 5:30-7:30pm & December 16th 9-5pm
  • January 12th 5:30-7:30pm & January 13th 9-5pm

 Please RSVP by December 8th 2017

St. Ambrose’s Host Home Coordinator will collaborate with PSY, Star Track, and YES! to identify and appropriately connect young people in need out housing with hosts. Below is more information about the partnering organizations that are each contributing their unique strengths and knowledge to reduce youth homelessness:

Point Source Youth is working to implement research and scale the, Family and Kinship Strengthening, Short-Term Host Homes, and Rapid Rehousing programs that will help in the prevention of youth homelessness in Baltimore.

St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center has a long history of connecting homeowners to interested renters who may not have the capital or credit to thrive in Baltimore’s rental market. They are excited to expand to short-term host homes for youth and will recruit 15 hosts in 2017.

Youth Empowered Society focuses on serving homeless youth while allying with them to create the change that is needed. YES! will be offering rapid re-housing units with an emphasis on case management and connection to employment.

Star Track (Special Teens At Risk–Together Reaching Access, Care, and Knowledge) is launching family and individual therapy designed for young adults who are homelessness or unstably housed. Program therapists are youth-centered and use a justice framework.

 

Homesharing gets Published!

Our Homesharing program is featured nationally in NeighborWorks America’s new book, “NeighborWorks Works: Practical Solutions from America’s Community Development Network.”NeighborWorks Works is a collaboration book that showcases the NeighborWorks network’s innovative solutions in affordable housing and community development.

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Homesharing, which began matching homeowners with tenants  in Baltimore City in 1988, is recognized in the book as a unique and impactful solution to the challenge of creating affordable housing. Through a new program expansion, “Parent-Child Homesharing,” supported by the William J. and Dorothy K. O’Neill Foundation, Homesharing is now growing into a housing solution for families too!

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St. Ambrose is featured alongside 2 other Baltimore organizations and countless more from across the U.S. Each page tells the unique story of an innovative solution that is helping to strengthen and empower our communities.  The book illustrates the incredible and far reaching impact that community development has on the communities where we live and grow.

With a donation of $25 or more to the Homesharing program, we will send you a copy of the NeighborWorks Book, complimentary! On the donation page there is a question where you can indicate that you would like a copy of the NeighborWorks Book.

Go ahead- Donate now.

Summer Learning at St. Ambrose

When summer rolls around, many college kids are eager to be free of commitments and head to the beach. These students, however, wanted to do something more meaningful with their time. Here are four students who are spending their summer interning with St. Ambrose.

Tasayeh Nickens,

Housing Development Intern

Tasayeh goes door-to-door in Belair-Edison, conducting surveys and collecting valuable opinions and impressions from community members about Belair-Edison.

Tasayeh heard about St. Ambrose from a friend who interned here last summer. “She was able to connect me with  Jill, who found me a position.”

DSC_5719She knew St. Ambrose would be the perfect fit. “I did my research about St. Ambrose and found what they really did interesting and very positive things for the community. I really like what they value; rehabbing homes, that’s something I’m really interested in. It really helps people who aren’t as able to purchase homes.”

Her favorite part about her internship is “being able to interact with the people in the community and hearing what they have to say about what’s going on in the city.”

During the school year, Tasayeh attends University of Alabama, where she studies social work. “I plan on becoming a licensed, clinical social worker, and I plan on working at a hospital doing medical social work. I also want to get my masters degree in social work and public health.”

Tasayeh feels that her experience at St. Ambrose is giving her a taste of the social work field “because they’re advocating for the people and the community.”

DSC_5719 (2)Courtney Watkins,

Law Clerk

Courtney works in the Legal Services Department and drafts deeds, conducts crucial legal research, and connects clients to attorneys.

Courtney plans to become a lawyer through her studies at University of Maryland  Francis King Carey School of Law. Because of her interest in housing law, a career development coach directed her to St. Ambrose. I don’t think I could have gotten the same experience elsewhere.”

“I really like that in public interest you have more hands-on work than say, at a big firm where you’re just doing legal research. I really like the experience that I get to be doing the work myself rather than just whispering in an attorney’s ear something that I found online.”

She’s trying to figure out what kind of lawyer she wants to be. “There are still so many avenues I want to explore. That’s why I’m really excited I’ve gotten to try out family law this summer.”

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Karly Horn,
Homesharing Intern

Karly personally follows up with each Homesharing client to ensure their satisfaction and is helping the department go paperless.

She recently spoke with someone who was first matched with their homesharer nearly 15 years ago. They now consider their homesharer “part of the family.” Karly’s favorite part about her work with St. Ambrose is “hearing what the program I’m part of is doing for people.”

At University of Richmond, Karly is majoring in leadership studies and minoring in history. An alumna suggested she intern at St. Ambrose, thinking it would provide her with the perfect experience. Karly structured her own interdisciplinary program for the summer, incorporating 4 internships. “I wanted to see how nonprofits are structured.”

Karly is still trying to determine her career path. “I want to help people, I just don’t know in what capacity yet.”

Maegan JamesSAM_0131

Resource Development Intern

Maegan collects stories from clients and staff alike to share for St. Ambrose’s upcoming 50th anniversary.

She connected to St. Ambrose through her summer fellowship, Walter Sondheim Jr. Maryland Nonprofit Leadership Program. “I grew up in Baltimore and have seen firsthand how housing issues can affect members of our community. St. Ambrose drew me in because they do so much to provide homes for people, making our city stronger as a whole.”

“I love that every day I hear firsthand stories from clients whose lives have been changed by the amazing people at St. Ambrose.”

Maegan hopes to serve in the Peace Corps after graduation. She knows that she wants to dedicate her life to public service, but is unsure what direction it will take her. “I know that whatever I do, I’ll always look back at this summer and think about the valuable skills I learned here at St. Ambrose.”

 

Homesharing Spotlight: Ed and Ousmane

Ed and Ousmane are Home sharers in the Mayfield neighborhood, a cozy community of detached homes nestled between Lake Montebello, Herring Run and Clifton Parks. Ed, who’s been sharing his home through St. Ambrose since 2011, is a longtime advocate of shared housing.  For Ed, it’s a healthy stimulator to live in community with others, and some of what it takes to be a good roommate is a mindset of compatibility and a willingness to communicate openly.

Ousmane, who joined our community of Home sharers in February 2016 is blind, and was referred to St. Ambrose through a job readiness training program. When he graduated from his job training program, he was able to swiftly transition to Homesharing, perfectly matching with Ed.

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“One Step at a Time”

From his new home, Ousmane waits at the corner to catch the bus to his work south of downtown Baltimore. On his return trip, he takes the bus to one block north of his home in order to cross at the controlled cross walk. When he reaches the cross walk, he listens for the cycle of traffic to stop to know when to cross the street. He knows the timing of the lights by memory, and always waits for a complete cycle to pass through before he ventures across the street, white walking stick leading the way.

Sometimes a neighbor will offer him guidance to walk across the way, and Ousmane always graciously accepts, “it’s part of their spirituality” to offer assistance, but each day for Ousmane, crossing the street is another opportunity to practice and learn. Another walk across the street is another step towards the independent lifestyle he enjoyed before he lost his sight four years ago.

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Ousmane, who is originally from Senegal, moved to the US in 1996. When he went blind in 2012, he had a lot to learn on his path to living independently again. For Ousmane, Homesharing is an experience in the “School of Life” and a way to live self-sufficiently, while in community with others. “It’s a daily self-assignment and a challenge to make sure I’m acting correctly and on the same page with others… I can always improve myself and my communication.” Ousmane wakes up around 5 am each morning to get ready for work. He moves silently about the house, taking great care with every step. Ed describes Ousmane’s movement as “ninja-like,” but for Ousmane, a heightened sense of hearing makes him very mindful of moving quietly at an early hour.

Adaptations- making the house a home for Ousmane

When Ousmane first moved in he carried around raised bump locator stickers and received assistance to mark buttons and switches around the house for guidance. There’s a dot to identify the start button on the laundry machine and three dots on the microwave to identify the number 3, the start, and the clear button. Another practical adaptation is a paper bag to place his mail. Ousmane has an app on his phone that he uses to scan and read text when he shops for food, reads mail, or checks paper money.

It didn’t take much to make Ousmane feel comfortable in his new home. One final adaptation that’s in the works-“Well, we’ll need to expand the garden,” Ed mentions. Ousmane is a vegetarian and the backyard garden is certainly a point of community pride and unity at the shared Mayfield home.

What is the best part about Homesharing?

For Ousmane, he finds that he is at peace in his new home,”living in sync with good people inspires me to be my best self.”

For Ed, Homesharing stretches his comparability and comfort zone, and “it’s a way to act locally and build bridges in the community.”

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Interested in Homesharing? Call 410-366-6180.

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A front porch garden that appeals to all the senses

Karen Heyward-West named one of Maryland’s Top 100 women

Karen Heyward-West, Director of Homesharing, was recently recognized by the Daily Record as one of Maryland’s Top 100 Women for 2016. The highly accomplished list of honorees includes leaders across sectors and communities. St. Ambrose gives a warm congratulations to all of this year’s nominees. Below is an interview with our own award recipient, Karen Heyward-West.

 

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Karen at the Awards Reception, April 18, 2016, Meyerhoff Symphony Hall

One of the categories for an honoree is being recognized for mentorship. What is your advice to young women who are interested in being leaders in the the non-profit or human services field? 

 The first thing I always say is you have to check in with yourself often to make sure it’s still your passion. Whether you’re advocating for the environment, for young people, or for families, you always have to ask yourself: Are you passionate about what you’re doing?

As one of Maryland’s top 100 women, you’re in good company! On the list of fellow nominees, who is someone you really respect and why? 

There are so many! On the present list, I’d have to say my sorority sister Sharonne Bonardi, Deputy Comptroller of the state of Maryland. Shes’ the first African American to hold the position and her story about how she moved up the ranks in the Department is really inspiring. Working in such a male dominated field and being the first African American in her position, she faced so many challenges, but she really committed to her job, not for herself, but for the women who came after her. As a public servant it’s not about you, and I really admire her commitment to being a leader for women in her field.

Of previous nominees, I would say Margaret Williams, of The Maryland Family Network. She’s been out there for more than 30 years fighting the fight to support young families, and she’s grown the network from just a few centers to many.
In your opinion, what makes Homesharing such a great program for the community?
I think because it’s unique and obtainable. There are not several hoops to jump through or waiting lists to get on- there’s a beginning, middle, and end all in the near future. We’ve placed people in a week, we’ve place people in 3 days. It’s an obtainable solution to the lack of affordable housing. It’s real.
What is the best part about being the Director of Homesharing?
The best part of this position is being a part of change. This position allows me to effect change in people’s lives and spread the good news about the outcomes of the program. Homesharing really is the best kept secret, but I get to help share what Homesharing can do for an individual and for a community.