What does a person navigating struggle look like….
For the average person, it means to do whatever it takes to make it – with all our effort. When you and I get lost, we tend to walk or drive a little faster, believing we’ll get found, a little faster. Raise your hand if you don’t get embarrassed to admit your critical situation to others. Exactly. And this, creates a pocket of stress, unlike anything else in life.
Felt difficuly lives in those tense moments when I’m feeling most isolated, or you’re feeling most isolated. We’re so displaced by those ever awful, stinging, painful reminders we call – regret….
It’s quite pinpoint accurate here to say, we’re most conscious of our situation.
Painfully aware as if you’re outside some circle – can be both a humbling and humiliating experience. A great chasm filled with the sobering thought “I need to get connected”..
Every one of us wants certain things. We want answers. We want significance. We want to be part of whole.
So the reality is the place we want to be, and the place that we don’t want to be are on the same path. We don’t need a new path. We need new directions.
To address the difficulty and a growing need for men exiting various state and local corrective programs, along with those suffering chronic homelessness in the Greater Gwinnett area, action always springs out of what we fundamentally desire. So the thought to provide a clean, quiet, safe house was our solution.
Every one of us wants to eat food and live indoors.
People cannot just go it alone. More is always achieved when doing it together, than any one can ever do it alone. Because we believe that every element of effective transition requires relationships- we have put together a transitional service program that meets people right where they are with resourceful information and residential transition to help navigate the crisis.
Within days of his wife’s death in March of 2013, Dan Capobianco had an idea. With his Lawrenceville home empty without her laughter, he would fill it with people in need. While providing them a house to live in, he might again experience joy in his own life.
Teaming up with two other men, Dan launched Judy House Ministry, a faith-based program named for his wife where once-homeless men are provided housing, Biblical counseling, and a community of peers who encourage each other as they transition to independent living.
As director, Dan operates the ministry with Paul Epperson, program manager, and Russell Gray, president of Greater Gwinnett Reentry Alliance, which helps people released from incarceration re-enter society. A volunteer at the Gwinnett County Detention Center, Russell also serves as volunteer coordinator for the Gwinnett Reentry Intervention Program (GRIP), which connects homeless inmates with local assistance before they are released from jail.
With Russell seeing the need firsthand at the detention center, Judy House’s first clients were identified quickly and, by the summer of 2013, there were nine residents in the house. Since then, says Paul, Judy House has served 177 men. At any given time, four to six clients reside at the large house where meals and community are provided.
“Most of our clients get here just after being released from jail,” says Paul. “The jail’s GRIP coordinator might call us at 8 p.m. asking if we have an open bed.”
“Assessing the dynamics involved is complex” describes Paul, who strives to identify some of the factors that lead to being disconnected as “influences to make poor decisions, and excessive use of drugs, and alcohol can be a start,” seemingly short and simple, however the way out is not always as simply stated.
“People can’t go it alone,” says Paul. “Judy House believes that healthy relationships and positive leadership are critical. We believe that effective transition requires relationships, and that’s why our program meets people where they are with resourceful information and residential transition to help navigate their crisis.”
The ministry offers a family-setting and support to help clients successfully reintegrate back into the community. Some seek short-term emergency housing while those who need long-term housing may stay a year until they get a reliable job that enables them to maintain a home.
Clients are welcome to stay as long as they meet house rules, according to Paul. A weekly program fee is required, and clients must be gainfully employed and help maintain the house. Daily accountability groups are deeply structured, and clients are expected to take part in after-meal devotions.
“Our goal is to reconnect men with God, their immediate families, jobs, and the community,” says Paul. Almost all of the men who leave Judy House as success stories remain successful, according to its leaders.
“We feel like we have a model that’s working and would like to expand it to help more people transition into stability and community,” Dan concludes. Hard working, effective, tax-paying citizens who’ve learned that while the program is for them, it’s not about them, but the next man.