Genesis Home
The NC38B project involved major renovation of the Genesis Home.  New flooring, fixtures, countertops and appliances were installed to improve the interior of the home.  June 2002.   NC115 chose their project at Genesis Home. Genesis Home envisions a community without homelessness in which everyone lives in safe and sustainable communities and shows compassion to neighbors in need. The project provided a safe environment for the children who would otherwise be at risk as they play and learn life skills, thus, NC115 provided compassion and camaraderie on the part of the participants and a place for the children to have safety and fun.  The tangible results included a commercial grade playground with protective materials under that equipment, repair of a broken, sagging gate enhancing safety, securing a chain link gate, removing a dangerous and cumbersome tree and repairing and staining the fence. The Budget was $15,000.

Genesis Home getting a fresh start of its own

Date: June 11, 2001

For 12 years it has helped homeless families, with rehab work it can help more. For 12, years, Genesis Home has helped homeless families get a new start in life. Now, with some help from its friends, the organization is getting a new start of its own.

The center where families live while preparing for independence expanded in 1998 into a new, larger building next to the house at 300 N. Queen St. where it started, across Holloway Street from the downtown Durham Public Library.

But the original structure was deteriorating and needed remodeling with donations of building materials, skills and time.

That’s where the WorldLegacy of Chapel Hill came in.

On Saturday, members of the training program that often adopts community service projects worked up a sweat at Genesis Home, ripping up carpet and installing new flooring, fixtures, countertops and appliances, as well as painting and carpentry.

“Most of us are sort of just handymen, you might say,” said Libba Beerman, one of those who wielded scrapers, hammers, saws and paintbrushes. “We’re finding out we can do things we didn’t know we could do.”

For the tasks still beyond their ken, they enlisted experts, who also donated labor and materials. On Thursday, John Patrikios and Ruben Ortiz, employees of Choate Construction Co. in Raleigh, prepared the house’s kitchen for new flooring, countertops and appliances. They had earlier replaced and repaired the floor down to the joists in one corner of the kitchen where a refrigerator icemaker had leaked for a year or more, causing the floor to rot and sag.

“It’s a good cause,” Patrikios said.

Bryant-Durham Electric rewired parts of the house, and on Saturday, Jeff Peloquin, a building contractor, replaced ceramic tile in a bathroom makeover.

The house has been used for children’s tutoring classes and for family meetings with visitors in its front room, but the refurbishment opens new vistas, said Genesis Home Executive Director Stan Holt. They include serving other homeless people besides families, perhaps young people or those with mental illnesses.

“These options literally didn’t exist a year ago, because we didn’t know this rehabilitating was going to happen,” Holt said. “Legacy said, ‘We’re willing to do a major project.’ I said, ‘We’ve got a hole in the kitchen floor, a hole in the ceiling, and we’ve got a goal of rehabilitating this house, making it habitable again.’ ”

The house contain staff offices, with a room for computers, therapy, group meetings and activities and support services, Holt said.

Other groups, including the Volunteer Center of Greater Durham also have come to Genesis Home’s aid, organization officials said.

On Saturday, about a dozen or more members of a class of WorldLegacy that calls itself “Sweet 16,” since that’s how many they number, toiled cheerfully, greeting each arriving member with hugs. WorldLegacy offers workshops, seminars and leadership programs in which students participate in group activities that stress human potential and accountability. Several members of the Sweet 16s, who were of all ages and from across the Triangle area, used the word “empowerment” to describe the training.

“We were particularly interested in helping children,” Beerman said. “This one we felt was directly influential in helping children, a place where they feel they can have the possibility of moving up.”

Genesis Home presently is home to 10 families, two fewer than its capacity. The remodeling could add as many as five residential rooms. Residents learn many lessons, Holt said, but the most important is self-determination.

“I believe each individual has the capacity to succeed; we just give them the space to really succeed,” he said. “We don’t do it to them and for them. We really don’t.”

Rather, Genesis tries to “broker relationships” in education and employment and to help heads of families acquire “life management skills,” he said. The home offers seminars in job-hunting skills, such as job interviews. Outside groups, such as the Durham Literacy Council, send tutors. Staff members work with each family closely.

“We try to get people to think about their schedules and structure their day,” Holt said.

Unlike the Community Shelter for Hope, which houses individuals and families on an emergency basis for up to 90 days, Genesis can house families for as long as two years. Unlike the shelter, it requires an interview and approval. It also provides on-site childcare through its Kidspace program, which also serves families outside Genesis Home.

Residents “pay” rent for their stay by accumulating points each day for completing chores, fulfilling appointments with staff members, meeting personal goals and attending weekly house meetings. They must observe a curfew. They are expected to prepare their own meals and care for their own children most of the time. If they lack sufficient points, they are placed on a 30-day probation.

“A lot of people say it’s hard,” said Ann Tropiano, residential services director. “A lot of it is appreciated afterward, when they see what they’ve done.”

Homeless families differ widely, although the staff sees some common denominators in how they become homeless.

“Before this year I would have said substance abuse,” Tropiano said. “This year, it’s domestic violence. That and underemployment. There are a few with just poor money management.” Welfare reform has swollen their ranks, she said.

But their potential often is enormous, she added. “We’ve had some people with graduate degrees,” she said.

If Genesis didn’t exist, “a lot of children would not have a real sense of home and safety,” Tropiano said. “There would be a lot of overcrowding, with families living on relatives’ couches and floors.”

Reprinted from The Herald-Sun, (Durham, NC)