The Firehouse Shelter's newest initiative ~ THE ELI PROJECT MENTORING PROGRAM ~ is off to a great start. On July 1st, we began to utilize a multi-mentoring approach to facilitate guest re-integration back into our community. Five mentors and one mentee have begun meeting weekly to share their life experiences and utilize their collective skills and abilities for a six month period to break the cycle of homelessness.

The program will emphasize a mutual shared experience between the mentors and mentee that will place all persons on even ground. Several critical areas will be addressed each week such as: achieving a stable income and job, attaining educational goals, developing a deeper relationship spiritually with God, finding affordable stable housing, seeking resolution to past legal issues, and maintaining a drug free lifestyle.

The ELI PROJECT MENTORING PROGRAM will surround the mentee with a level of support unheard of in the human service field. Normally, our case managers are responsible for up to 40 men at one time. The ELI PROJECT will reduce this heavy case load on our staff and provide an intense level of social support from our volunteers who seek to assist the mentee in overcoming the complex barriers which are preventing him from achieving his full potential.

According to Firehouse Shelter Housing Coordinator, Anne Wright, who is leading this new initiative, "We are off to an awesome start!" The mentors have undergone an intensive training process over the past month and are engaged in building a strong relationship with our mentee who is highly motivated and has recently spent six months living in our transitional housing program at Nashamah!

St. Stephen's Catholic Church is serving as the host site for the weekly meetings and will continue to do so until December 31st. At that time, the mentee and mentors will undergo a formal evaluation of their shared experiences. It is our hope that these six persons will learn from and impact each other's lives in meaningful and transformative ways.

Be on the lookout for monthly updates from our mentors and mentee about their involvement in The ELI PROJECT MENTORING PROGRAM! It is our goal to add future mentoring groups so that more homeless men can participate in The ELI PROJECT!