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Our Stories
Back in February 2015, President Barack Obama quoted Sister Mary Scullion at the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington, D.C., using our vision statement to emphasize his point about inequality.

 

Amber can still vividly remember that terrible night - one reproduced so often that she began to grow numb to them.
"It was terrible - I remember one night I was sleeping in the freezing rain…and I thought I wasn't going to wake up. The best cover I could get was a little awning."
"I didn't get scared after that, of the cold,” she recalled. “And that was kind of scary, the fact that I didn't get scared anymore."
Amber moved between various limited-stay shelters in the tristate area, finally happening upon Project HOME outreach workers while on the Parkway. It wasn’t long before she found herself at our Women of Change residence, relishing the simple comforts of being inside and safe.
"I was so glad to come in - it was great, the first month especially. All I did was sleep, I was so happy to be inside. The bed felt so good - over time, I thought I hope I get a better bed, but that bed was so nice after coming in."
In the two years since coming in for good, Amber has moved to our permanent residence at 1515 Fairmount Avenue, accepting the challenges of living on her own and planning for the future.
But more than anything, Amber now relishes being outside – most often indulging her new cycling hobby – because it’s on her terms. And while there, Amber has become a powerful advocate, imploring the folks she knows who are still on the street to inquire about our services.
"It's the best step toward independence."
As Jenny approached the age at which she would leave the foster care system, her life was at a crossroads.
Jenny was working, but she wasn’t earning enough to live on her own. It looked as though she would need to move in with an aunt, stalling any forward momentum she was hoping to build toward an independent lifestyle.
"Stuck on the block," she said.
But a meeting with an independent living coach led to a successful application to the Young Adult Program at our JBJ Soul Homes residence. Penny now had an affordable apartment and access to the full array of Project HOME’s services, including comprehensive supports dedicated specifically toward easing her transition to independent living.
"I thought this is something from God. I was still stressed about what I was going to do after I aged out of foster care," she said. “You've got to be patient sometimes with things - that's what I learned from the whole experience."
Things continued to improve for Jenny; she acquired a long-sought full-time job in University City, and began studying Criminal Justice at the Community College of Philadelphia. In the year since she entered the program, her financial literacy and time management have improved greatly. More importantly, she feels more confident, more optimistic.
"I learned that here you are never by yourself – you have other people who can help you," she said, expressing pride with the progress she has made. "I told myself that I didn't want to start something and then go back to where I had been."
Now, Jenny is planning the next step: becoming a Project HOME alumnus and acquiring her own place.
"I'm going to take everything I learned with me."
Leonard Buckner was six years old when his family came to Rowan Homes. His mother, Tanya, and her three children —Tanisha, Leonard, and Latanya—were among the first families to move into Project HOME’s residence for families in the St. Elizabeth’s neighborhood of Philadelphia. “She was excited to have a place to call our home,” Leonard remembers, “and the apartments were  beautiful—bigger than some houses.”
A few years later, the Honickman Learning Center and Comcast Technology Labs (HLCCTL) opened its doors right across the street. At age 13, Leonard began dropping in after school to take his first  class in technology and video.
In high school, Leonard joined Project HOME’s College Access Program (CAP). The program requires  participants to take classes in digital literacy as well as preparing them for the college  environment, including college selection, what to expect in college, and managing a syllabus.
Leonard’s hard work landed him at Bloomsburg University. When he struggled in that first semester, he called Tomika Brown, director of CAP. “She showed me tough love—where I messed up, and what I needed to do to turn things around. With so many people in my corner, I had to pick up the pace. I couldn’t let them down.”
Leonard studied accounting and marketing. During summers, he took advantage of Project HOME’s  internship program, getting on-the-job experience by working 35 hours per week in our accounting  office at JBJ Soul Homes. “The accounting staff is awesome. They not only helped me with my tasks,  but talked me through things I needed to know and credentials I needed.” This summer, he is there  once again, and next year, he will graduate with a degree in business.
Leonard’s experience with Project HOME was about more than learning practical skills. “I want to  work with an organization that values the community, families, and kids, and helps people who are  less fortunate. My family has been blessed to be part of Project HOME, which has helped us achieve  things we could not have.”
Now Tanya, Leonard’s mother, can celebrate 15 years in recovery and three children who are college  graduates or on track to be. “Project HOME’s presence in our community is changing everything,”  Leonard observes. “More people are buying into the idea that education is a must adults as well as  kids. Education is now a part of our thinking.”
In many ways, Leonard is the face of Project HOME’s next generation. He and his peers are testimony  that the right support at critical times can help transform not only individual lives, but a whole community.