When Ginger Stevens, pastor at Third Day Fellowship, began the project Joppa House in 2012, her vision was of a place for homeless women and their children to stay until they could support themselves.
Now that Joppa House is a reality, Stevens gave an overview of the program’s first six months in operation.
“Homelessness in Northern Michigan does not look like it does in the metropolitan area,” Stevens said. “Homelessness looks different up here. It’s not as visible as it is in the metropolitan area. A lot of our people who are homeless are staying with friends or family, and they can only stay some place a day or two. And then they have to couch surf … they have to go somewhere else. They have to keep moving from home to home to home to be able to keep a roof over their head.”
The Joppa House was named after a section from the bible wherein a woman who was risen from the dead because of her charitable deeds for the poor lived in the town of Joppa.
“I also learned during that process that a lot of these people who were homeless did not have the life skills that they needed to sustain independent living,” Stevens said. “They were missing some of the basic elements of knowing how to handle life that you or I would take for granted.”
The transitional home was constructed with the idea that the women would stay for a period of six to 18 months, maintain a job while living there and learn basic life skills they may have missed.
“We have six different modules that cover life skills,” said Stevens. “Six different areas that was a need in our community for these young people. And, we let them stay with us for six to 18 months to teach them these life skills and transition them out as well as work with them on other issues like substance abuse or counseling or trauma counseling or any of those kinds of things that they need.”
Stevens told the Lions they are working with the women on all sorts of mental issues and they help girls work toward their GED or license and other fundamentals they couldn’t receive on their own.
The house they are using for the Joppa house was a catholic convent home that the church was selling with a piece of property that was donated after a fire destroyed an old home.
“In early 2012, we started working towards that goal to move the house to that property … only about 200 feet,” Stevens said. “We started raising money to do that and worked on getting that house moved. That was a process, a long process.”
The Joppa House has been running for six months now, and it continues to grow. It can hold 15 occupants plus a full-time staff person. The annual budget is $77,000 and the program is a non-profit.
Joppa House is located at 801 State St. in Charlevoix.
For more information call (231) 547-8040 or go to http://joppa.3dfellowship.org/home.html