Four years ago, when Geon became a resident of Ward Street, he had never heard of Paul’s Place and could not imagine how the organization would one day become such a vital part of his and his family’s life.
Geon’s life was on track fourteen years ago: he had started college, met his wife, and had two children. Then, a series of setbacks kept him from finishing school and nearly ended his marriage. He and his family moved to Georgia for a fresh start. Unfortunately, the change further strained his marriage, and he returned to Baltimore for a new beginning. He got that – and more – when he befriended Will Thomas, our Ambassador Volunteer Coordinator, and was introduced to Paul’s Place.
When he met Will, Geon was unemployed and knew only a few people in the area. Will encouraged him to attend the weekly Men’s Group, and Geon immediately felt comfortable at Paul’s Place. He found common ground with many of the other men and appreciated that everyone was treated equally and without judgment. Geon began volunteering regularly and, at Will’s suggestion, enrolled in our Ambassador program. As an Ambassador, Geon was matched with a case manager for guidance with working toward his goals of finding employment, completing his degree, and rebuilding relationships with his family.
Geon is now an Ambassador Alumni and was hired as the Community Liaison for Train Your Brain, a partnership with the University of Maryland at Paul’s Place to help recovering addicts learn to make better long-term decisions. Geon recruits individuals for the program and follows-up with participants to be sure they make their appointments. He remains a welcoming presence and a connection between community members and Paul’s Place.
Geon is not the only one in his family who has benefited from the programs at Paul’s Place. His daughter, Lenaya, began After 3 as a reluctant first grade reader. She worked with a reading specialist to improve her skills. At the end of third grade, she was reading on grade level and had become an avid reader. Now a fourth grader, Lenaya loves our after-school program, works hard in school, and makes weekly trips to the local library.
Another family member, Niyah, had been a caregiver for her grandmother and turned to Paul’s Place for help when her grandmother died and she lost her home and support system all at once. Initially a hot lunch guest, Niyah joined the Ambassador program and enrolled in case management. Her coach helped her find a job in the dietary department at the University of Maryland Medical Center and re-enroll in college.
Upon reflection, Geon credits the support he received through the Men’s Group and the Ambassador Program with helping him learn from previous mistakes, become a better parent for Lenaya, and reconnect with his older children in Georgia. He is most proud of how much his family has accomplished on their own; Paul’s Place gave them the resources and directed them towards the next steps, but Lenaya and Niyah did the hard work. He has been inspired by them and everyone at Paul’s Place to pursue a career in human services, and he says the quality that attracted him to Paul’s Place in the beginning remains true today – people are genuine here and treat everyone who walks through the door equally and respectfully.
Last year alone, 886 individuals, including Geon, received coaching from our caring and knowledgeable case management team – free of charge. Case management services help adults and children in Southwest Baltimore with structured, on-going assistance in navigating complex challenges and reaching self-selected goals related to housing, employment, mental and physical health, education, and other issues. Our case management team tailors the approach to meet our guests where they are and guide them toward self-sufficiency. This intensive process requires multiple one-on-one coaching sessions over several months to a year or more, and 90% of guests in ongoing case management reported an increase in self-sufficiency.
You can help individuals like Geon succeed: each $100 in support equates to one job coaching session or one case management session for one adult. Thank you!