As she surveyed what would become her new home, Joslynn Hairston was excited. But her 5-year-old daughter was even more giddy.
“She was ready to move in last night,” Hairston said on Sept. 23, as Borromeo Housing cut the ribbon on its new residential home for homeless adolescent mothers and their children.
The home, located on a tree-lined street in Barcroft with a picket fence out front, will accommodate four families. Hairston and her daughter will occupy a bedroom in the basement.
The effort to buy and improve the home was three years in the making, a dream of the St. Charles Borromeo Catholic Church community.
“We are just so thankful,” said Joy Myers, executive director of Borromeo Housing. “It will provide sustainability for our organization, a footprint for the future.”
For Madeline Glenn, who will be moving into the home with her 16-month-old daughter, the transition meant stability.
“It's representative of growth for the entire program,” Glenn said. “It's a beautiful thing.”
Glenn and her daughter will be living upstairs, getting a bedroom with its own bath. “It's gorgeous,” she said of her new living space.
The home was purchased in March, with funding coming from a variety of sources, including a grant from the county government using federal funds.
The new home will be supervised by a full-time program manager and a live-in program graduate. Its opening doubles the number of families served in-house by Borromeo Housing.
The home augments the existing Elizabeth House program, which serves about 75 clients per year. As part of the multi-year Elizabeth House program, residents go through training in child care, basic life skills and planning for the future.
U.S. Rep. Jim Moran, D-8th, who helped secure federal funding for the new home, said the effort to provide decent housing goes to the core of what a caring community should be.
“This is what Christianity is all about,” Moran said. “This is what Jesus would be doing today. We ought to be doing this all over the country.”
County Board Vice Chairman Barbara Favola termed Borromeo's social-service efforts as “absolutely the best value we get for our dollar,” and said the participants in the housing program needed the support of the community.
“They have the next generation to raise,” Favola said. “They're learning how to make life decisions in a sensible way.”
Unlike many social-service organizations, Borromeo Housing receives the bulk of its funding from the private sector, including extensive support from Catholic organizations.
“The Catholic community has done a fabulous job of finding us, funding us and helping us grow,” Myers said.
Father Gerry Creedon of St. Charles Borromeo Church praised the organization's staff as the key to its success, and singled out Myers for her leadership.
“In Joy, we have a dynamo,” he said.
Moran said he has been stymied in winning additional federal funding for the project, but said he would press on . . . because the young people being helped by the program needed the support and encouragement.
“They're going to be the type of parents their children will be proud of,” Moran said.