Ninety percent of graduates from Beatitude House’s robustly holistic transitional housing program do not return to homelessness.
Holistic Approach Proves Effective at Beatitude House
Beatitude House, the only extensively comprehensive transitional housing facility for women and children experiencing homelessness with three facilities in Mahoning, Trumbull, and Ashtabula counties, was founded in 1991 upon Sister Margaret Sheetz’ vision to enable such women to further their education and achieve permanent housing. Beatitude House follows a holistic approach that seeks to address the multiple barriers faced by homeless families.
During their stay at Beatitude House (which varies in length depending on the family’s individual needs), women and children enjoy a safe, supportive loving environment that helps them gain stability and focus on their long-term goals. Program participants attend weekly group and individual counseling sessions with on-site counselors, where they work on goal setting and self-esteem building. They develop career/workplace and education paths, often working towards their GED’s or post-secondary education. Education is a key component of helping families to move forward and regain independence and strength, reports Casey Bertolette, Development Director for Beatitude House.
In the transitional housing program Beatitude House also offers an on-site case manager who assists participants in dealing with problems such as debt reduction, health concerns, childcare, and filling out forms for school and other agencies. With this intensive support, women at Beatitude House have been able to achieve numerous milestones, including completing their education, securing driver’s licenses, reducing their debt, and acquiring reliable transportation. An average of 90 percent of those that complete Beatitude’s transitional housing program have not returned to homelessness.
One transitional housing graduate, Beth (name has been changed to protect privacy), who came to Beatitude House with three children after leaving her abusive husband, finds it difficult to point to just one key thing that the ministry helped her with. Instead, she emphasizes the holistic model. “It’s not just one thing,” she says. “Everything at Beatitude House played an important part.”
The ministry serves the women’s children as well. To respond to their special needs, Beatitude House employs full-time child advocates. These advocates promote the healthy development of each child in residence by providing parenting classes on numerous topics (child development, family structure, discipline and behavior, health and safety, and education and enrichment) as well as general support and crisis intervention for their mothers. In addition, the kids at Beatitude House participate in a variety of enrichment activities including art classes, music lessons, summer camp, and sports.
Since inception, Beatitude House has served approximately 3,500 thousand women and children. Its creativity and commitment to holistic care has been seen in its evolution over the years into such initiatives as permanent supportive housing for homeless women with disabilities and its earned income venture, “Green Clean,” a worker-owned cleaning service. At Green Clean, women in the transitional housing program can gain on-the-job work experience and skills.
Although its founder died in 2001, Beatitude House continues Sister Margaret’s legacy by helping women and children break the cycle of poverty and violence and build lives of stability and hope.