Open Door Mission to expand services
Rochester, N.Y. – The Open Door Mission is widening its reach to include women and children.
The executive director says the number of homeless students in the Rochester City School District is leading the faith-based housing shelter to open its doors to women.
“We found that this is a population that, if we get these moms and their children to a stable situation, we could really make an impact on those families,” said Open Door Executive Director Mike Hennessy.
Hennessy says the idea of providing transitional housing for women and their kids has been in the works for years. Women will get financial, parenting, cooking and life skills.
“To each family, the program is going to look different,” said program administrator Anna Valeria-Iseman. “The ultimate goal is to get them to prevent whatever it was that brought them to that situation from ever happening again.”
The proposed plan is to pour $2 million into a church on Post Avenue, adding beds and building a playground for up to 20 women and their children over the next three years. They will be able to stay there up to nine months, so they can get back on their feet.
“We really think this is the right place; It’s a wonderful neighborhood,” Hennessy said.
Family referrals would come from the RCSD’s Homeless Student program.
“What we’re really trying to do is address the value of education in these kids,” Valeria-Iseman said.
She also said the program includes following up with all the children who come through the mission to make sure they graduate from high school.
Open Door Mission has held a few informational meetings with the 19th Ward Neighborhood Association, and plan to hold more to gain the support of residents.
The organization is also seeking the city’s approval to re-zone the church as a residential care facility. The church is currently occupied, but Hennessy said that ministry plans to relocate.
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