Bethesda Center helps people find homes, independence

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Ryan Morato talks Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013, about his friendship with Stephanie Funderburk, who mentored him through the Bethesda Center's HAWS Collaborative program. (Walt Unks/Journal)

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — The Bethesda Center for the Homeless provides shelter for many people who would have no home without it, but its mission is to provide so much more than a temporary place for people to lay their heads.

Staff at the shelter want to reduce homelessness in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County.

Ryan Morato is proof that someone can overcome homelessness, and that Bethesda is there to help make that happen.

Sitting in his apartment in Sunrise Towers, Morato brims with confidence and thankfulness. He points to a certificate on his coffee table.

“I never thought I’d be here,” he said.

He is part of the first set of graduates from Bethesda’s HAWS Collaborative – a one-year intensive program to get homeless individuals and families off the streets and into public housing.

Bethesda Center is located in Winston-Salem and provides a day shelter as well as an emergency night shelter for men and women. But it also provides case-management services to help the chronically homeless find homes and jobs.

According to Leigh Somerville, Bethesda’s office manager, 165 people were moved into permanent housing last year, and 160 have remained in their homes for up to a year.

The collaborative program – a partnership between Bethesda and the Housing Authority of Winston-Salem – is one strategy to do that.

Peggy Galloway, Bethesda’s executive director, said the program has slots for 24 families and 10 individuals. The project is funded by Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust.

To be part of the program, an individual must be chronically homeless, meaning he or she has been consistently homeless for a year or has experienced four episodes of homelessness in the past three years. They must also have a disability.

Read full story: The Winston-Salem Journal

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