Chatting with the Executive Director at EPH
A regular week on the job for me consists of cold calls, closing sales, installing copiers, and writing these “riveting blog entries” (a direct quote from my wife – sarcasm ignored). Usually it is the same thing each week, but with differing levels of attention on each area of my job. Occasionally, though, going about my regular business allows me to see a part of society that I never really paid much attention to.
In the past you have seen me write about mixed martial arts and the in-depth role that solid nutrition can play in your life when given a chance.
Thanks to one of my customers donating a copier to them, over the past couple of weeks I had the opportunity to talk with the Executive Director at Ecumenical Partnership for Housing, Julie Aderhold. She gave me a taste of a very real issue that is plaguing our city, county, state, and country: family homelessness.
You can read our interview below:
CJ – How long has Ecumenical Partnership for Housing been around?
JA – EPH began in 1992 when Union Congregational Church wanted to house a family within their parsonage experiencing homelessness. They thought it was best to use their property that they no longer needed for housing their own maintenance person. They reached out to several area churches to ask for help. Three other Green Bay congregations (First United Methodist Church, Grace Lutheran & Resurrection Catholic Church) responded and joined together with The Salvation Army to form an ecumenical response to family homelessness, and formed EPH.
By ecumenical I mean representing different church denominations coming together or uniting with each other for a common cause. We are a 501©3 and have 20 partnership churches.
CJ – What made you join EPH?
JA – I joined EPH because I was familiar with our mission and work due to belonging to one of the partnership churches. When the former Executive Director retired, I decided to apply for the position. Being able to put my faith into action is very rewarding.
CJ – What exactly do you guys do? Are you a halfway house? Are you a rehab facility? Are you something in between?
JA – In essence, we are a family housing program. EPH has three areas of program focus: transitional housing, long-term supportive housing, and an eviction prevention program.
CJ – Who are the people that you generally help?
JA – Families with dependent children under age 18 who are experiencing homelessness or are at-risk of homelessness.
CJ – Can you explain a little bit about what each of your three programs focus on?
JA – In transitional housing, we own 20 housing units in which we support families with children. Families in this program most commonly come from area shelters, or sometimes directly from the streets. They stay for about a year on average as they are improving their credit and pay off debt. We work in partnership with The Salvation Army, who provides case management and works on things such as: Debt reduction, Health and Medical goals, Housing Options, Educational Goals, Personal/Emotional Goals and Spirituality.
In Long-term Supportive Housing, we own 14 housing units in which we support families (with an offer on a 15th home). Families in these homes come from area shelters or from our transitional homes, have been denied by other landlords (usually because of past evictions or bad credit), and stay as long as they earn less than 50% of our area’s median income. Families pay utilities and rent relative to their income, with rent increasing as their situation improves. The word “supportive” in long-term supportive housing is the key…we provide case management in order to walk with these families on their journey to self-sufficiency. Families complete this program when they are able to pay full-market rate for an area rental unit. Sometimes, families exit by purchasing a home.
Our third program is eviction Prevention. Most services within our community begin after a family becomes homeless, or after the eviction process has begun. With our Prevention Program, we begin earlier in the process by working with landlords and families to prevent evictions. If a landlord has an otherwise good tenant who is suddenly struggling to pay rent on time, and the tenant has a good relationship with the landlord, it makes sense to address the situation immediately. Our focus is on case management, including navigating other services in the community with some financial assistance if needed. We have found the need for these services have been heavily impacted by the Coronavirus pandemic.
CJ – If people are looking to volunteer, how can they best help?
JA – We need crews periodically for projects in both our transitional and David (long-term supportive) homes such as:
• Interior painting of homes
• Installing flooring
• Installing windows
• Deep cleaning empty homes we just refurbished/purchased
• Cleaning homes between families
• Spring and fall yard clean-up
• Providing a meal
• Yard work – mowing/raking/trimming shrubs
• Snow removal
Our Office Manager, Wendy, coordinates our volunteers and can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 920-676-3779.
We also have a Wish List we keep updated on our website: https://ephgb.org/how-to-help/wish-list/
There is also an area online for donations: https://ephgb.org/donate/
CJ – How can a local business partner with EPH to help?
JA – There are a variety of ways businesses have partnered with us. Some have provided matching dollars to their employees’ monetary gifts. Some companies collect items from our Wish List and donate them. (see link above). Others provide the opportunity for their employees to volunteer and some companies have contributed cash donations or grants to EPH.
This past weekend, I was thinking about how badly I was wanting everything to go back to normal because of this lost year. Talking about these programs with Julie was sobering for me and was enough to shift my perspective to one of thankfulness once again instead of contempt, just in time for Thanksgiving.
My three-year-old son was not able to have a normal Fourth of July or Halloween experience this year.
But we have a house.
This was the first year of my entire life where I could not go to a Minnesota Twins game (or any other professional sports game for that matter).
That walk back to my car because I forgot my mask is a long and semi-frustrating one.
But I can breathe easy knowing that even if I had no income for months, we would not be on the street.
Instead of giving into the world and looking at everything that we were not able to do in 2020, how about we do something less common and more rewarding instead? Let’s look at everything that we DO have and see how we can bless those around us with it all.
You have been given talents, money, and resources in your life that are meant to be shared with the world.
Go be the change in someone’s life by sharing a little piece of yourself with them – whether it is your talent of counseling, painting houses, baking treats, being financially astute, or just simply listening.