My Father's House lends families a hand, not a handout
When he was without a home, Charlie used the services of My Father's House to pay off debt, earn his high school diploma and get a driver's license. After achieving those goals, he was able to move into permanent housing, and recently was offered a lucrative job on the East Coast.
My Father's House, a Gresham shelter for individuals and families experiencing homelessness, has aided families transition into stable housing since its founding in January 2001.
Charlie started staying at the shelter shortly after he was granted custody of his two daughters.
Sara Green, My Father's House administrative manager, said there are many stories of people finding ways to improve their family's situation, and Charlie's tale is just one example.
Green said one of her favorite success stories is of a woman raised on welfare who had no intention of finding work. The woman planned to raise her daughter on the state assistance program. But to stay at the shelter she had to find a job because it's a residency requirement. The shelter denizen found a seasonal winter job at a Macy's department store.
"She came home, (after her first day) and was so mad and she said, 'Why didn't anyone tell me it's so much fun to work!'" Green recalled. "She loved it."
The woman worked at Macy's through the season, and instead of receiving a layoff notice after the holidays, was asked to attend management training.
Green said she ran into the woman about a year ago, and the My Father's House graduate was working for the Department of Human Services, and was planning on becoming a foster parent.
"For that family, they were all being raised on welfare, and whatever that has to offer," Green said, "but now she was the captain of her destiny, and was able to do things she never thought she was going to be able to do, like go on a vacation."
What it takes
With all the success stories coming out of the shelter there are still challenges, and one is keeping the center funded.
The building was constructed in 2008, and the nonprofit paid for the construction as it was getting built. Even without a mortgage, utilities are expensive in the three-story apartment building at 5003 W. Powell Blvd.
One way to offset expenses is by assigning chores to residents, and each person is responsible for cleaning a section of the building that's not just their studio apartment. The task also helps residents take pride in where they live.
While the help tidying up makes it possible to not employ a cleaning crew, repairs still occur with a 10-year-old building, "so financial donations are wonderful," Green said.
The center also relies on donations of food and clothing to keep residents fed and looking sharp.
"Just because they're homeless doesn't mean they have to look like it," she said.
To assist families to become productive in the community, the center also has residency requirements. Those stipulations aid in breaking unproductive habits, and include curfew, room checks, classes and a wake-up time.
"If you've been unemployed for a while, why get up?" Green said. "We make sure everyone is up, dressed and ready to go for the day."
The center aims to provide every necessity while encouraging self-sufficiency. Clothes, food and toiletries are provided, but anything specific such as a name brand laundry detergent is not given out just because a resident requests it.
"All of their needs are going to be met while they're here. Maybe not all their wants, but we're going to make sure all their needs are taken care of," Green said. "One of our big things is that we don't want to do for them what they can do for themselves."
About My Father's House
A family homeless shelter in Gresham, My Father's House is a nonprofit facility run through monetary donations and volunteer support.
The center often needs the following items: Soup, fresh fruit, canned fruit, condiments and canned meat; boys clothes from sized 5 to 8, new underwear for children and children's new socks; new bath towels, new full size sheet sets and new crib sheets.
Donations can be dropped off at the apartment facility, 5003 Powell Blvd.
For more information about My Father's House, visit https://www.familyshelter.org/whats-going-on/house-tours.