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Dorothy Day House provides so much more than shelter to homeless families

Community Changers

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — “People forget about homeless families because they hide. They don’t want to be seen on the streets because they know that their children will be taken away from them,” said Sister Maureen Griner

Many homeless shelters in Memphis are unable to take in families as a unit. They’re often separated by gender and age. A mom and her daughters are placed in one shelter while men are placed in another and teenage boys are placed in foster care.

That approach weighed heavy on Sister Maureen’s heart. She’s now the executive director of the Dorothy Day House.

“By keeping the family together, we’re lowering first of all, their stress level. We’re giving them time to really help each other through the trauma of homelessness,” she said.

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The Dorothy Day House is an organization that provides transitional housing and support for homeless families. WREG’s Corie Ventura met up with Tracy Burgess, director of development, for a tour of one of their three homes.

“Our families cook for themselves; they clean up after themselves, they do their own laundry,” she explained.

Up to three families can stay at each house at once. They all share the kitchen, dining room, living room, office and children’s playroom. Each family has a bedroom to themselves.

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While families are navigating their next steps, the Dorothy Day House helps the kids get back on track with school and help the parents search for jobs.

“Homelessness will never end as long as people don’t make a living wage,” said Griner. “There is no way you can live on $7.30 an hour.”

That’s why the organization has teamed up with Lucy J’s Bakery in Crosstown. They hire residents from the Dorothy Day House to work in their bakery and pay them a real living wage.

All this hard work is why our anonymous donor wanted to give the organization a check for $1,000. When neighbors help neighbors, the whole community is lifted.

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