By Jodi Stigers
In the past year our shelter has not grown any larger but our ability to serve our guests in more meaningful ways has grown in leaps and bounds. Witnessing the daily shelter activities designed to bring safety, stability, employment and wellness to our guests is inspiring.
Walking into Interfaith Sanctuary on any given morning you will see:
- Our Work Program Crew loading up with their case manager to head to work at their job with the City of Boise Parks & Rec.
- Our preschool students getting ready for another morning of learning, while their parents work with case managers to continue their journey out of homelessness.
- In our Project Well-Being room, a group of guests are with their teacher, Boise State University professor Janet Kaufman, who is working with them on their “Grumpmeter” (thegrumpmeter.com), a tool designed by Kaufman to help address, understand and control their emotions.
- In our new portable classroom, Steve from Recovery 4 Life is running a group for our new Project Recovery participants. These groups help to create connection and allow a community of support to grow within the programming.
We have learned in the past few years that it truly does take a village to do this work. The fact is, without the support of our donors, volunteers and community partners none of these programs would be possible. Our guests educate us as to where the gaps in service and care are, and we respond by reaching out to our community and asking them to help us bring services and solutions directly to our guests.
The early success of Project Well-Being and Project Recovery are great examples of our generous community coming together to bring much needed programming to our guests. We did not know what success would, or should, look like for the first 12 participants of Project Well-Being. The plan was to try to reach out to the guests who seemed to be stuck in the homeless cycle, seeking shelter with us at night and spending their days on the street with no plans, no goals and no support.
Project Well-Being was designed to offer them a safe space that provides structure with regular classroom work, fitness, field trips, meals and time to rest. The first 30 days they worked with their supervisor, Nicki Vogel, on goal setting, shelter chores, meal preparation, creative writing, dream boards, art, movies, even an invitation to attend a Boise Baroque music rehearsal; all of these activities helping to awaken their senses and bring them new hope.
What happened in those first 30 days? Our participants began opening up and attaching, not just to the program, but to each other and our staff. They found their voice and began writing a newsletter for our homeless community, and for the community at large. That newsletter is what you’re reading right now.
Guests began to ask for help working on resumés, registering for school and asking for real help for their mental health and substance abuse issues. Project Well-Being is now a few months old and from our original 12 participants 6 are now gainfully employed and at the end of this month 5 of those 6 will be moving out of the shelter into their own housing.
Project Recovery is our newest program, coordinated by Michael Perry and developed to ensure our guests can safely move from a medical detox center directly to our shelter. Here they are provided 7 days-a-week programming, including; group and one-on-one counseling managed by Recovery 4 Life’s professional staff, peer support, fitness, nutrition and a 24/7 safe space to help them maintain their road to recovery.
Interfaith Sanctuary is a shelter full of support, solutions and second chances, so full we are bursting at the seams.