The Grooming Project’s first housing facility brings families together
By: Meg Townsend
If you arrive at The Grooming Project’s new family residence facility on any weeknight, you are likely to find women talking as they prepare meals together while their kids watch TV in the adjacent living room. What may seem like a typical dinnertime scene for many is the picture of safety and serenity that many of these families couldn’t have imagined just a few months ago. According to Jarrod Sanderson, Chief Operating Officer for The Grooming Project, “Parents in poverty face many challenges in addition to adequate training for well-paying jobs. Stable housing is chief among them.”
In fact, lack of housing was often the reason that Grooming Project students had trouble completing their grooming classes.
“This place is absolutely beautiful,” one current resident remarked. “It actually feels like home. My kids absolutely love it.”
Needless to say, such hardship can make it difficult to regularly attend classes and focus on learning a new trade.
A House of Their Own
To help solve the problem, leaders at The Grooming Project began searching for a way to create residential housing for their students in close proximity to the school. A piece of vacant land just two blocks away looked like the answer.
“After incurring several challenges, we eventually decided we wanted to fund the building ourselves,” Jarrod says, “and thanks to our generous supporters, we raised enough money to get started in April of 2020.”
In April of this year, the new residence opened its doors, and today six families are enjoying living there within a five-minute walk to both quality daycare and a public elementary school.
“The students couldn’t be happier,” says Barbie Daniels, The Grooming Project’s Senior Case Manager. “No one can focus when worried about where their family will lay their heads at night. Now that they have a close, clean
and healthy home, you can just feel the difference in the way they carry themselves.”
Built with both privacy and community in mind
The facility features six suites, each with their own bathroom, washer, and dryer. The suites come fully furnished with beds, dressers and desks, and the grooming students get to take the furniture with them when they transition to permanent housing after graduation.
There are two floors, and each floor has a communal living room and kitchen. Every family has their own pantry in the kitchen in which to keep their groceries and supplies. The downstairs has a meeting and study area with a fully equipped computer lab to facilitate learning for both grooming students and their children. Local volunteers have created a community garden that residents and their children care for and harvest for meals.
A place that shines
“We wanted to build a house that did more than just meet the basic need for shelter,” Jarrod says. “We wanted to build a place that shines to show our students that we believe in them and their futures.”
A playground was added in June 2021 and every day when the weather is good, it’s filled with children playing, running, and jumping. Right there, in the shadow of The Grooming Project school just down the street, it’s clear that a safe and happy home is the starting place of hopes and dreams.
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