By Luke Waters, Intern, Catholic Charities of West Tennessee
As I sat watching two men play dominoes, a man walked up to me and asked if I wanted to play ping pong. I was hanging out with residents at the Genesis House, a program run by Catholic Charities of West Tennessee. I had been hoping somebody would ask me to play.
As we played the man told me a little about himself and how he was beginning to get his life back on track. He had become addicted to an illegal drug, become homeless, and hit rock bottom.
Luckily for him, someone had helped him get into Genesis House and he was immensely grateful for the opportunity.
Genesis House is a program where people who have both a mental illness and a drug addiction live and are rehabilitated. Residents can be recommended by a local hospital, homeless shelter, or other agencies.
When they begin living at the house, they are given a room, prescribed medication to help their mental illness, and asked to sign a pledge promising they will stay off of drugs.
Every day the residents are kept on a tight schedule, which includes group meetings, individual meetings with a counselor, meals, free time, and more. All residents must participate in every activity when they live at the house.
Once the residents have been in the program long enough and are on their way to full rehabilitation, they find a job with help from the employees of Genesis House. As soon as a resident finds a job, they are allowed to stay at Genesis House until they are fully rehabilitated. When they are ready to go, employees at the house help them find affordable housing.
The man I played ping pong with was in the early stages of this process, but was so grateful to have the help Genesis House provided, and he seemed to be making the most of it. I felt fortunate that I was able to spend the day with the residents and not just learn about the program from the staff but really get to spend some time with the people that CCWTN helps.