Beatitude House helps people change lives
YOUNGSTOWN — Erica Payne turned a corner by leaving behind a life of homelessness and drug addiction, instead choosing a path that led to helping others deal with similar struggles.
“The sky’s the limit and I want to keep going,” an excited Payne said while holding a prestigious award she received during the Cornerstone Awards outdoor ceremony at the Beatitude House office, 287 Lora Ave., on the North Side.
Payne was one of several dozen clients in Beatitude House’s housing, immigrant outreach and Ursuline Sisters Scholars programs who were awarded last week for their achievements during the past year.
Payne, who took home BH’s Ambassador Award, also recently received a certification from the state to be a chemical dependency counselor assistant. That would allow her to work in rehabilitation facilities and attend group sessions with clients, among other things, she explained.
Payne, who has been with Beatitude House for about two-and-a-half years and is celebrating three years of sobriety, said her ultimate goal is to be a social worker. These days, her primary focus is on helping others, something she has done by distributing bags of her own food to assist people who are dealing with the health pandemic, she continued.
“Without these struggles, I wouldn’t be the person I am now,” Payne said.
Helping people who are struggling with legal problems is on the plate of Jonathan Thomas, who graduated last June from Eastern Gateway Community College with an associate’s degree in paralegal studies. Greatly supporting him with having reached his goal was being in the Ursuline Sisters Scholars program about two years.
“It was a solid resource to help me achieve the goal of graduating,” said Thomas, whose long-term ambition is to attend law school.
Thomas, who works as a paralegal for Community Legal Aid Services in Youngstown, added he’s first considering attending Youngstown State University or Kent State University at Trumbull to earn a bachelor’s degree.
Also happy with her achievements in the same program was Luz Castillo, a registered nurse at St. Elizabeth Youngstown Hospital. Her next step is to pursue a bachelor of science in nursing, she noted.
“They want everybody to have a BSN,” Castillo, who also attends Mercy College of Ohio, said.
Last year, about 61 percent of clients in the Ursuline Sisters Scholars program were single parents. Because of a lack of transportation and child care, illness, financial pressure and other obstacles, an estimated 70 percent of such parents drop out of pursuing secondary education, noted Sister Patricia McNicholas, BH’s donor-relations director.
Nevertheless, the program has an 80 percent success rate, she added.
It also has three components: financial assistance, mentorships and emergency assistance, said Emily Moran, director.
Specifically, clients can receive gift cards for transportation and groceries, along with emergency assistance if their vehicles break down and need repaired or if something happens to their homes, for example, she added.
Housing: Provides 47 homes for homeless women and children and assists them with housing costs, furnishing apartments and volunteer support services.
Ursuline Sisters Scholars: The goal is to help students with low income break free from poverty and obtain a post-secondary education. It also addresses their basic needs such as food, clothing and transportation.
Immigrant Outreach: This program offers English as a Second Language classes, as well as outreach services that include transportation, food distribution and enrichment activities.
Source: Beatitude House