Everyone needs a place that they can call home. Yet there are hundreds of families in Memphis who are homeless. Dorothy Day House provides families with the temporary housing and support services they need to get back on their feet.
“Many people are completely unaware of the hundreds of families in Shelby County who do not have adequate housing each night. Family homelessness is an invisible problem,” said Sr. Maureen Griner, DDH Executive Director of the Dorothy Day House.
On Sunday, January 26, the nonprofit celebrated the grand opening of its third home, The Joseph House, that will provide a safe haven for three Memphis families.
Volunteers, staff, and former families came to tour the spacious, beautiful, three-story home, located at 1161 Peabody Avenue. The house has everything that families would want and need from an upstairs laundry to a playroom for the kids.
Plus, in most shelters, families who are experiencing homelessness are often separated. Men and teenage boys are sent to one shelter while women, girls, and little boys are sent to another shelter.
But at Dorothy Day House, families get to stick together.
Now, nine families can be served simultaneously at their three housing locations. Their goal is to eventually serve twenty families across the city.
In 2016, they launched a 5-year, $5 million comprehensive capital campaign and so far have raised $3.5 million toward that goal. Those funds allowed for the renovation of the Joseph House, 1161 Peabody Ave., and the house across the street, 1178 Peabody Ave.
A2H Architects, Montgomery Martin Contractors, and the Hunter Fan Company all pitched in to make the home a reality. More than 40 Hunter Fan employees banded together to complete a “Huntervention” of the home, donating all of the furniture in the new home, adding personal touches, assembling furniture, installing ceiling fans and adding inspiring decor to transform the space. In addition to hands-on dedication, a portion of the proceeds during the month of February on Hunterfan.com will be donated to help combat homelessness and help out Dorothy Day House.
Families got to move in at the end of January and settle into their new home.
Parents are bring connected with other local organizations that can help with employment, transportation, counseling or education.
For example, Lucy J’s Bakery in Crosstown employs the parents who live at the Dorothy Day locations and provides them with a working wage.
Tracy Burgess founded Lucy J’s with her husband and also supports families at DDH as the Director of Development & Communications.
She hopes that The Joseph House, like the other Dorothy Day homes, will be a place where people feel loved as soon as they open the door.
“Dorothy Day loved to serve people,” Burgess said. “In her spirit, in her own words, she said that the best way to serve is to love.”
Dorothy Day House relies on volunteers to pitch in for a variety of needs from babysitting, to house maintenance, to meal prep and more.
Learn more about volunteer opportunities and apply at dorothydaymemphis.org/volunteer.