Safe housing connection provides stability for breast cancer patient

St. Pete’s works with Good Samaritan to provide safe stable housing to those in need

 

Together, Courtney and Sue filled out dozens of applications for housing. And, Courtney helped connect Sue to Good Samaritan Ministries, a local nonprofit committed to providing services to meet the physical, social, emotional and spiritual needs of individuals and families of all faith, especially those most in need. Good Samaritan was able to provide housing vouchers and support thanks to a grant from the CARES Act.

“When I first met Sue, she was going through a lot. She was experiencing lots and lots of emotions related to her medical concerns, on top of the housing stress,” said Courtney. “I was able to connect her to our behavioral health professionals and then get her connected to temporary housing through a grant from Good Samaritan. Those have been the most beneficial things in the time that we’ve worked together.”

 

https://www.sphealth.org/stories-news/stories/safe-housing-connection-provides-stability-breast-cancer-patient

A smile as big as the Montana Moon

One afternoon an HPD officer called and asked Good Sam’s team to go check on a particular gentleman living under the walking bridge close to Exploration Works. When we found this gentleman, he was wet, and so cold he could not move. He really was freezing to death!  Wet, freezing and in pain from frostbite, our team loaded him up and took him straight to GSM Thrift Store for warm clothes as well as food to get through the first night. Instead of putting back outside, he was taken to a hotel to start his journey back to health and society…and this is when the work began. The teamwork for this very vulnerable individual in our community.

Good Samaritan was given an electric wheelchair for someone in need; we gave it to this man who had lost part of a finger from the spokes in his manual wheelchair.   Thank you to the donor, it found a home and made someone very happy. This man had frostbite so bad on his hands that he could not grasp things. He has such severe frostbite he had multiple treatments a week scraping off the frostbite from skin. And he does it with a smile on his face, happy to be alive, and grateful for the help.

This man, as we got to know him, is the kindest, sweetest most amazing guy you could ever meet. How in the world had things slipped so bad to put him in this situation with nowhere to turn, nowhere to go, and no known family or friends to help? We ALL jumped in for his different needs and blended together for his progress.  We all went to work for him! One of our team members continued getting food for him and transporting him to medical appointments for serious conditions. He was a victim of his social security money being continuously stolen, together he and staff worked on getting a new payee so he could actually see his own money. Every single one of our team members came together to work with him on different needs. He was so thankful and happy to work with the Good Sam team, a smile on his face, happy to be alive, and grateful for the help.

This is the reason we do what we do, we strive to make the lives of those who cross our paths better. They are worth it, and they certainly deserve it! And you, our donors help us make these changes in everyday lives.

The smile on his face will shatter your heart. It was so wide, full, and beautiful, just like a Montana moon! These acts of kindness still exist today. Changing lives for the better is something neighbors helping neighbors can do. 

You Can Change a Life- My Story

We would like to send a huge thank you out to all our Good Samaritan family and donors. You all do not know how much you mean to us. This job, I call it that, but it is truly so much more, has changed the lives of several of us, myself included. I came to Montana a little over a year ago completely broken from opiate addiction, my own parents were too exhausted with my addiction to take me in. My dad’s sister, who had had her own rough phase in her life, was empathetic and told me I always had a place to go out here with her and my uncle if I needed it. I called her crying outside the Suboxone Dr.’s office because I had let my insurance lapse and I was too broke to pay for the appointment and I was detoxing. I moved in with them and spent months recovering my mind and body. In March I interviewed at Good Samaritan for the “Outreach Coordinator” position. I instantly felt comfortable in the room with the HR Manager and Executive Director. I got the feeling of a family type atmosphere at Good Samaritan and that appealed to me so much, I needed that close knit group of support. I waited nervously by the phone hoping for a call back and was ecstatic when I was offered the position. After I had been here a couple of months and started running fundraising campaigns to help our Assistance Ministry, my position seamlessly shifted into a Marketing/Fundraising Coordinator and I cannot begin to explain how much I love the work that I do. “Meaningful Work” is what my boss calls it and it truly is. In this past year, despite everything that has gone on in the country, I have gained over a year of sobriety, truly found myself and found this fire in me to help others the way someone helped me when I needed it. I want to thank our donors, YOU, for showing me how to give without asking for anything in return and how fulfilling it is to see those donations go to those who truly need it. You can change a life; you all have truly changed mine.

 

Sarah Grantham

Marketing Coordinator

GSM

Social Justice in Action

 

 An Article from the 2020 Good Samaritan Ministries Diocese Newsletter:

LOVE IN ACTION

“I’ve got a good job here but I can’t find housing for me and my family”, said an unnamed Helena man experiencing homelessness.  “I learned back in high school to trust my maker so that’s what I’m doin’ and I just keep on tryin’.”

For those who are homeless, winter brings significant additional challenges when the pandemic is also creating extra risk.  The organizations that serve individuals and families experiencing homelessness are reporting record numbers of people needing assistance with shelter. However, the pandemic impacts their ability to provide services.

Since its inception in the 1980’s, Good Samaritan Ministries (GSM) in Helena has provided help through a variety of programs to serve individuals with basic needs as well people who are homeless and those in need of immediate assistance. These programs include the Assistance Ministry and associated Thrift Store, Our Place, Housing Navigator, and the Street Outreach Program. These different programs within GSM are funded by the four area Catholic parishes (Cathedral of Saint Helena, St. Mary’s Catholic Community, Our Lady of the Valley, and Sts. Cyril & Methodious) who provide monthly donations, and many other area churches, individuals, grants, the City of Helena, and Lewis and Clark County.

“The Assistance Ministry is available 24/7 so people can get services any day of the week including evenings”, said Executive Director, Theresa Ortega. “This assistance program provides basic emergency crisis shelter, help to pay rent and power bills, clothing, furniture and household goods as well as helping with medical care and transportation costs.”

Within the Thrift Store is another unique service called the “Placer Pantry” that is only open at scheduled times to provide free items to those in need which includes diapers, baby formula, soap, sleeping bags and personal hygiene items.  The Soroptimists Club of Helena and the Greater Federation of Women partner with GSM to provide these pantry items.

GSM is one of the “front door” agencies to the Housing First statewide database. This is a collaborative project through United Way that identifies the unique needs of individuals and families who are homeless or at immediate risk of becoming homeless, matches them with the agencies that can best meet their needs for housing and other resources, and connects them with these agencies. This makes the process of securing shelter and a more permanent home significantly less stressful for people in need.

In December of 2019, GSM took over the management of the “Our Place” program for Lewis and Clark County. With its colorful outdoor sign promising empowerment, recovery and wellness, it provides people in need (veterans, those from institutional settings, or those simply lost and in need of help) with a safe warm daytime place.  In addition to companionship, Helena Food Share, Salvation Army, and dropped off food donations provide breakfast, lunch and snacks. Hot coffee is served all day long and people can use a bathroom and a washer/dryer to do their laundry – a luxury for those who cannot afford a laundromat.

Trained staff at Our Place networks with community and state agencies to meet a variety of people’s needs that range from chemical dependency, physical and mental health services and necessary medications to food, housing and helping them to sign up to receive treatment, mental health support, Social Security, Medicaid, or Veteran Administration benefits.

A man walked into GSM’s Our Place seeking help; he was homeless and living in his vehicle.  Four months earlier his daughter had committed suicide, and a week later his older brother died from COVID-19. Although a recovered addict who had been in sobriety for ten years, he turned back to drugs to numb his grief, and then lost his job and his housing.

In a compassionate response, Marvin Colman, Manager of Our Place, reached out and partnered with Instar Community Services on behalf of the man seeking help to obtain a Chemical Dependency Evaluation. Upon completion of the evaluation, it was determined he needed inpatient treatment and GSM then contacted the Montana Chemical Dependency Center in Butte, who agreed to take him within the week.  GSM supplied transportation to Butte, where the man spent 30 days in treatment.  He successfully completed treatment, and now has housing and a job. The added grace in this situation is that he reconnected with his other two children.

GSM utilizes an Emergency Solutions Grant, which provides emergency shelter and helps people remain in their homes by paying up to six months of back rent. This grant also funds the Rapid Rehousing program which pays for the deposit and up to three months of rent on housing for people who are homeless.

Recently, GSM received a grant to develop a new Street Outreach Program where trained individuals reach out to people living on the street.  They offer people who are homeless food, hot coffee, and a human connection.  The outreach staff assists with any immediate needs including referrals for social services. It can take the outreach staff a period of time to build bonds of trust, as many homeless people have been traumatized and may have lived on the street for a long time.

One of many successful GSM clients whose story has a happy ending is “Kimberly”.  Her name is just Kimberly – she has no last name for this article.

“The longer you’re homeless, the harder it is to get on your feet,” said Kimberly after two years of living homeless.  When she walked into GSM’s Our Place,  Kimberly was timid, scared and sat under the stairs visibly shaking.  But two months later, and with the combined efforts of GSM, Our Place staff, and the Helena Housing Authority, she is now out of the cold and in her own apartment with food in her kitchen, furniture and a bed.

According to the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the corporal works of mercy are feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned, and burying the dead. Among all these, giving alms to the poor is one of the chief witnesses to fraternal charity; it is also a work of justice pleasing to God.

Each one of us can help the homeless people in our community.  We can offer prayers, make financial contributions to GSM, donate clothing, food, furniture and household goods, or become a volunteer. We can educate ourselves on the causes and conditions of homelessness. We can integrate the Catholic Social Teaching principles into our lives, which entails recognizing that all we have is a gift, given to be shared, and we are all created as children of God.

As our Holy Father Pope Francis wrote, “Each of us can learn something from others. No one is useless and no one is expendable.”

Beloved Mother, help us realize that we are all members of one great family and to recognize the bond that unites us, so that, in a spirit of fraternity and solidarity we can help to alleviate countless situations of poverty and need.”  Pope Francis

 

There is always someone worse off….

There is always someone worse off….

 

In Aug of 2020, a consumer, a pleasant man in obvious personal pain came into the Our Place looking for housing. He had at one time had stable housing, a stable job, and ten years of sobriety from a Methamphetamine and Heroin addiction.

After a short talk with Our Place peer support, we learned that four months earlier his daughter had committed suicide, a week after that his older brother had lost his life to COVID-19, then within a month he lost his job and housing with nowhere else to go but his vehicle. Unfortunately he was unable to  cope and process the personal tragedies and pain. Unfortunately, he returned to his addictions and became lost in drugs again  numbing the  pain.

He contacted several agencies for a Chemical Dependency Evaluation (CDE). He was told over and over, it would be between  five to six weeks before anyone would be able to see him.

A peer support specialist introduced him to the manager of Our Place. Once the need was identified, Instar community Services was contacted for a CDE as a Good Samaritan partner for such services. Upon complement of the evaluation it was determined he needed inpatient treatment and Good Samaritan contacted the Montana Chemical Dependency Center (MCDC) in Butte, Montana. Because his assessment of need was so great MCDC agreed to take him within the week.  Our Place gave him a ride to Butte and he spent thirty days in treatment.  While he was in treatment,  Our Place housing Coordinator, Lori reached out to the community and was able to find him housing. This, to prevent him from being homeless and without a safe place of his own. He graduated treatment and he is now stably housed. He continues counseling every week and is starting to work through the grief he feels for the loss of his family. He is currently reconnecting with his other two children and he just had a job interview he feels positive about.

 

You can help!

 

How simple gratitude can change our entire path

In February2020, a young female came into Our Place and asked the manager if she could volunteer at the drop-in center. The manager asked her why she wanted to volunteer. She told him that one year ago she had been homeless and living on the street. She had spent several months living in the shelter; while there Our Place had been one of the only places of actual comfort, safety, and warmth she could find.  Eventually, she was able to secure an apartment, but she never wanted to be in that position again, so she went to the Career Training Institute. She spent a year training with them in several different employee areas. The young lady had previously never been able to keep a job for more than a week or two because she suffered from mental illness.

While at the career institute she learned about Peer Support as a career opportunity. She applied for and received a grant from them to attend Peer Support training. She fell in love with the concept of helping others that suffered as she had. When she graduated, she heard that Our Place had come under new management. The manager told her they had no job openings, but she simply shook her head and said, “No, I’m not looking for work right now I am looking for experience.” She told him that she knew she didn’t have very much work experience and wanted to volunteer twenty hours a week as peer support so that someday when she did get a job she would already be good at it.

The manager signed her up as a volunteer and gave her on the job training including everything from the NASW code of ethics to Crisis response. She was able to develop good work habits such as good attendance, mediation, and the ability to connect with her peers while remaining objective. Six months after she started volunteering, a job opportunity came up at Our Place and due to her hard work and dependability the decision was made to hire her. She works as a peer support specialist and enjoys success in this field to this very day.

An AmeriCorps Member has been housed!

 

An AmeriCorps member has been housed!

An AmeriCorps- Montana Conservation Corps member started serving for his term this past fall to help do studies on homes and fire mitigation. He moved from California to Montana to serve and could not find housing right away. He ended up camping for a while and it started getting cold. He knew he needed to find housing before winter began but needed some resources because he was still new to Helena. Matt came to Good Samaritan’s for housing navigation services and was able to get housed after two weeks. Thanks to a private landlord in the community who is opening to taking AmeriCorps members who on average get a net income of $800-$900 a month. Good Samaritan’s great appreciates the collaboration landlords provide to community members serving for their country.

What a person can do today with assistance, they will do tomorrow by themselves.

We did a mission moment months ago regarding a young lady who was struggling in life. She desperately needed help and someone to help her navigate towards finding that help. She was about as lost as a person can be, needing mental health care as well as addiction treatment and help. We cannot stress enough about how hard it was to get her the help she deserves and needed. She strived for a life that she can be proud of and a life where she can be happy. She worked so hard to achieve this. And Good Samaritan has walked this path with her and could not be prouder of who she is today. She is fully in recovery, working with the PACT team from The Center for Mental Health who has guided her in changing her life. She is now seeing her children again which is what she was fighting so hard for. We wish you could all see this transformation. You would be moved to tears as we have been.

Every single day is a struggle for those facing mental health challenges along with addiction issues. It is a very real problem. We ALL need to come together to help support individuals in this struggle. To help them navigate the system so they can each get the help they DESERVE! And if we come together like we did for this young lady and fight for their right to a good life we can have more success stories such as hers. She is truly an inspiration.

 

It only takes one person to believe in you to start believing in yourself

 

 

 

Everyone deserves a hand up

A gentleman of 79 years came to Our Place. He worked in an asbestos mine, when publicized asbestos was toxic, he not only lost his job, but became ill with asbestos poisoning. He eventually received a sum from a general asbestos fund but by that time had developed Asbestos related symptoms which took his settlement, plus more leaving him homeless.  The treatment left him disabled and learning to live on the streets.

With many years of homelessness and homes being taken due to “community progress” …he hitchhiked his way to Helena with the thought there must be more services in the State Capitol. He spent the first thirty days in Helena trying to find housing but was unsuccessful, he remained homeless in a shelter or on the streets.  He was referred to us by Purview and the homeless shelter finding his way to Our Place. Staff at Our Place completed the standard housing intake with him, including a Permanent Supportive Housing application in hopes of receiving a housing voucher. The sad truth is, however, that the waiting list for these programs can take 1-2 years before someone is accepted and that is assuming once they are accepted into the program they can find a house that takes a voucher.

That same day we made several phone calls without success, but we refused to accept defeat! He needed a clean place because of his medical condition. Can you imagine being ill and homeless?  One of our other clients suggested an apartment complex with openings, we called it just in case there might be an opening.  After repeated attempts to reach the company on the phone, we decided to take the gentleman up there in person.

Sometimes life is all about timing, luck, or a candle in the wind from someone giving back. When we walked into the building the regional manager was there. She gave us an application at which we filled out together. We turned it in and miraculously the manager was so impressed with him, she approved him on the spot. He moves in three days from now!

Everyone deserves a home of their own!!!

 

Home is Where the Heart is

There was a lady… with two young sons… who needed help with getting into a home after being homeless for months. She had a good paying job but also had debt that she was working on getting cleared up. She had saved enough for rent but really could not come up with the deposit in time for this rental. She came into GSM requesting help. After interviewing her she applied for the Hunthausen program for deposit support.  The Hunthausen Fund is unique in serving the working population with a half loan – no interest, half grant funds up to $1000.00. She has one year to repay half of the total deposit back. This is to help people with a hand up not a total hand out. She made a few payments then came in to pay the remaining off. The look of relief at not being homeless any longer is tremendous. There is so much gratitude and happiness. I wish everyone who helps donate to this cause could witness this relief. The boys now have a home to grow up in and be in a safe environment, the mother is not so stressed about not being able to provide for her children how she wants, their lives have improved tenfold!! The gratitude when the last payment is made, the simple responsibility of paying it off makes these clients feel as if they themselves have invested in this entire process. It feels like it is theirs and they are proud of this achievement.

Thank you, donors, it is because of you we can provide The Hunthausen Fund and continue the work of Archbishop Hunthuasen, Fr. Jack and Sister Edna for all to have a home.