“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.” Martin Luther King Jr was a visionary and his legacy lives well beyond the Monday each year we honor his life achievements.
This MLK Day of Service we joined the Beneficial Bank Bluegooders to volunteer at the Depaul House in Germantown. The Depaul House is a residency that provides a home for 25 men experiencing homelessness and works with them to secure meaningful employment and supports them towards successful integration with the community. Part of the larger organization Depaul USA, the facility was opened in September 2009 and has had great success so far with the residents getting employed and independent. The waiting list to live at Depaul is long, and residents take their stay very seriously because they have one year to get through the rehabilitation program. The men have access to a wide range of services, including employment and education workshops, financial literacy courses (thanks Beneficial!), and life skills training.
On Monday the Bluegooders set out to fix up the House – we did everything from sweep to paint to cook. Maura and I teamed up with Richard and resident Malik to tackle some chores in the basement. Our biggest project was sorting through all the donated clothing and organizing it so residents could walk into the clothes closet and pick out anything needed. About 5 minutes into the task we quickly learned that Malik was a member of Back On My Feet and had already run 2 marathons! Maura was pumped because she’s been involved with BOMF since its beginning. Malik was probably the most excited because he ran upstairs to proudly wear his marathon metals around his neck the rest of the day.
All the staff and counselors at Depaul House were extremely friendly and thankful we were there to lend a helping hand. The positive environment they create really does resonate with all the men. Each resident we met was optimistic about the future and thankful that they have been given this ‘second chance’ to get back and take a wider roll in the community. The Depaul House doors are always open and they are always looking for new opportunities to connect their residents with the larger community. Here is a great Op Ed article in the Philadelphia Inquirer from Executive Director Chuck Levesque: Depaul House Philly Article.
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”