Veterans Like Ahmad Need Your Help Right Now

In the U.S. Army, Ahmad spent a decade of his life making sacrifices for our country. Yet, when he returned to civilian life, employment proved elusive. Without a job and a home, he and his teenage son were forced to sleep on friends’ couches.
 
“I felt very desolate and needy,” Ahmad remembers.
 
Last year, Ahmad enrolled in Project Renewal’s Next Step Veterans Employment & Training Services (VETS) program. Today he has his dream job as a bus driver.

By donating today, you will help veterans like Ahmad renew their lives through health, homes and jobs.

Thank you for your continued support.

Women Like Luisa Need Your Help

Before becoming homeless, Luisa encountered the same joys and struggles that fill the lives of many New Yorkers. As single mother to two wonderful children, she made just enough as a nursing assistant to get by.

But after losing her home, Luisa was forced to live out of a suitcase at a motel. With hope running low, she became severely depressed. Then came the biggest blow: she had to give up her kids, who went to live with their father.

By donating today, you will help renew the lives of homeless New Yorkers like Luisa.

When Luisa first came to New Providence, Project Renewal’s shelter for women with mental illness or substance abuse issues, she was skeptical. “I thought they just gave you a bed,” she says. “But it’s not just a shelter. Everyone knows your name. They take care of your health too, and push you to achieve your goals.”

Today, Luisa looks to the future with hope again.  She wants a job and her own apartment so she can get her kids back. Ultimately, she wants to become a nurse.

“Funny, what I miss most is getting them to go to bed, telling them to turn the TV down. Those are the kinds of little things I miss most.”

Your end of year gift will help reclaim hope for New Yorkers in need.

Redemption

A few years ago, William was struggling with addiction and trying to rebuild his life after years of incarceration. Today, at The Recovery Center at our Third Street Shelter, he’s helping other men who are in similar positions renew their own lives.

William began using drugs and alcohol when he was in high school, and as a young adult he was arrested on drug-related charges.  Four and a half years later, while he was on parole at the Bellevue Men’s Shelter, a Project Renewal counselor told him about The Recovery Center.

“I was at my lowest point,” William says, “I was depressed and felt like I had nowhere to go. I was skeptical about The Recovery Center because I was in a struggle with myself, like a tug of war. Part of me didn’t want to go but I gave it a shot.”

Opened in 1968 as the nation’s first outpatient clinic for homeless adults struggling with addiction, The Recovery Center provides easy access to on-site group meetings for both Third Street Shelter and neighborhood residents.

For William, all it took was a couple of group meetings to realize that sobriety was a realistic and worthwhile goal.  “I started to relate to some of the stories that were being told in the meetings,” he says. “I realized that I wanted to be a role model and help the other guys who are like me.” 

After 11 months in the shelter, William moved into transitional housing and he has become a role model and leader at The Recovery Center. He commands the respect of his peers through his honesty, consideration for others, and pride in what he has accomplished in his recovery. As a member of our Peer Representative Program, he has gone with our Intake Coordinator to tell his story to clients in other Project Renewal programs.

William hopes to eventually move into his own apartment. In the meantime, he’s enjoying the simple pleasures in life that sobriety affords him. “When I was using, everything I did was negative,” he says. “But now I go to plays and baseball games and amusement parks. I’m doing a lot of positive things.”

Back to Work

Ms. D had worked for the New York State Board of Education for over two decades as a teacher’s assistant before bipolar disorder sent her life spiraling out of control.

Her undiagnosed illness struck so suddenly, she wasn’t able to advocate for herself. She lost her apartment, most of her possessions, and the job she loved. Feeling ashamed and abandoned by her friends and family, she didn’t know where to turn.

“When I lost my job I felt hopeless and lost,” Ms. D says. “I felt like I was crippled and I could no longer walk the path that I had walked for 21 years.”

Her first turning point was accepting her illness, deciding that it wouldn’t control her life, and getting on medication.  Then, after six months of homelessness, Ms. D came to a Project Renewal shelter and told our counselors that she wanted to teach again.

She joined our Next Step Assisted Competitive Employment (ACE) program, which prepares people with mental illness for employment, helps place them in competitive jobs, and provides extensive follow-up support.

Ms. D faced an added challenge: the requirements for teacher’s assistant jobs had changed since she was first hired. But she was highly motivated to get back to doing the work she loved. Our ACE counselors helped her enroll in six intensive workshops to satisfy the new requirements. She studied in the shelter and our Next Step computer labs whenever she could, and passed her exams with excellent scores.

As a result of her determination, Ms. D received numerous job offers, and this fall she started a new teaching assistant job.  “When I got hired I felt like I was dreaming,” she says. “I still can’t believe it, but the dream has become a reality.”

In Her Own Words

In September we celebrated the 10th anniversary of our St. Nicholas House supportive housing residence in Harlem.  Madeline Guzman was an administrative assistant at St. Nicholas House when it opened and she’s now the Property Management and Entitlements Coordinator.  Here she reflects on the past 10 years of helping St. Nicholas House’s formerly homeless residents rebuild their lives.

Madeline and Ramon

Madeline and Ramon

When St. Nicholas House first opened, it was an exciting time. The site had been a vacant lot for 40 years, but it was about to become a place of hope and renewal for formerly homeless New Yorkers.

Our first resident was Ramon. I met him at an open house we held at our Fort Washington Men’s Shelter. He felt hopeless and frustrated that he had been homeless for so long. He applied for a St. Nicholas House apartment, but he didn’t think we were going to pick him. When we called him back for his first interview, he was so excited he could barely talk. He moved in on June 23, 2004. I’m proud to say he is still a resident and an active part of the St. Nicholas House community.

Debbie is another resident who has been living with us for 10 years.  She came to St. Nicholas House from our New Providence Women’s Shelter. She was down on her luck and looking for a safe haven where she could turn her life around. I helped her get medical insurance and food stamps, and she went to school to learn a trade. She inspires me because she’s about my age, which showed me that it’s never too late to start anew.

Many of our residents are at the end of their rope when they come to St. Nicholas House. But when I show them their apartment and they sign their lease, they have tears of joy in their eyes. That’s why 25 of our residents have lived here since 2004, and the annual turnover rate is less than five percent. It’s also what makes my job special. I’m part of giving people a second chance. I hope to be working here for many more years.

Join Us in the Fight Against Breast Cancer

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. We’ve come far in the fight, but breast cancer still kills over 1,200 women each year in New York City.  Particularly vulnerable are uninsured women without a regular doctor, 60 of whom forgo their annual mammogram. 

That’s why Project Renewal’s ScanVan, the nation’s first mobile mammography clinic, is so crucial. Each year, throughout the five boroughs the ScanVan provides 5,000 potentially life-saving mammograms – for free – to women who are homeless, low-income, uninsured or face other healthcare barriers.

Not only that, our staff diligently follows up with patients to make sure they come back for their annual mammogram and, if necessary, get the additional healthcare services they need.

We can do this work thanks to the support of people like you. Click HERE to donate.

A few years ago, a woman named Christal came to the ScanVan at the recommendation of a friend. "I was amazed at the staff’s professionalism and persistence. They always made sure I came back for my appointments," she says.

Two years later, our radiologist spotted something on Christal's mammogram and sent her for a biopsy. She had cancer. "It was a scary time," Christal says. "My only thought was, 'I'm dead.'"

Our staff worked closely with Christal to ensure she had the best possible care. We recommended a breast surgeon who performed a double mastectomy and removed her cancerous lymph nodes. "I wouldn’t be here today if not for Project Renewal," she says.

Too many women aren’t as fortunate, which is why we’re committed to continuing to grow the ScanVan program. This year we installed digital mammography equipment, which produces fewer false positive results. And because our technicians can now see the images instantly, they know right away if additional images are needed. That means fewer patients need to come back for repeat exams.

We’re grateful to everyone who has supported our efforts, including Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which has provided over $590,000 for the ScanVan since 2007.

You can help too.  Click HERE to make a gift today and help women like Christal win the fight against breast cancer.