A Whole Lotta TLC
Frank was once “a respectable college-educated former Marine, and business owner with a beautiful, caring wife, three wonderful children, and three beautiful grandchildren.” But after decades of battling alcoholism, he wound up “a penniless, homeless, unemployable drunk.” These are Frank’s own descriptions of his life, in a letter he wrote to the staff of the Transitional Living Center after he successfully completed their “homelessness to housing” program and moved into his own apartment.
The Transitional Living Center (TLC) offers short term, interim housing and a structured program to assist people experiencing homelessness here in Lancaster County to move from homelessness into permanent sustainable housing.
Doug Hopwood, TLC Program Coordinator, describes that structured program. “Budgeting is a huge part of the program. But sometimes we also have to help people understand what budgeting even is. So we really work with them on a lifetime learning program that covers managing money, anger management, parenting, communication, legal matters, among other things. We also focus on the three things landlords care about: pay your rent, keep your place clean, be a good neighbor.”
TLC is one of many programs run by Tabor Community Services, Inc, to help people meet housing and financial challenges.
TLC serves individuals, couples and families of many configurations. Residents range in age from infants to senior citizens, and come from all walks of life. They have 52 rooms, and 68 beds. Seventeen of their rooms are in the Veteran’s Victory House – a specialized program started four years ago to serve Lancaster’s homeless military veterans. They have served 97 homeless veterans since the beginning of that program.
Hopwood says that the economic crisis is really evident at TLC, as they see over 40 households every month at orientation, and they can only offer housing to so many of them. According to their annual report, last year alone, over 275 individuals experiencing homelessness in Lancaster County completed the program at TLC with the goal of finding permanent housing.
Hopwood explains that each household (whether an individual, a couple or a family) is assigned a caseworker who works on a total plan for that household. The TLC website explains, “Residents may be striving to reduce their personal debts, stabilize their mental and/or physical health, maintain recovery from drug and/or alcohol abuse, or be fleeing from domestic violence. Many are forced to work more than one full-time job or attend additional job training to increase their income in order to transition into affordable and permanent housing. TLC recognizes that these residents are forced to make difficult decisions and TLC is there to help.” TLC is a partner organization in the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO).
Doug Hopwood explains, “We give people the tools, but they need to do the work. We have a fairly large toolkit so we have the tools to give to people. But they have to be willing to do the things they need to do, and make a good concerted effort.” He adds, “It’s all about engagement.
But judging by the stories and letters from people who have been helped by Doug and his team, it’s also about another meaning of TLC: Tender Loving Care.
The conclusion of Frank’s letter reflects feelings that many TLC residents and former residents seem to have in common. He wrote, “TLC was for me a very bright spot in a very tragic time of my life. As my personal situation continues to improve, I will always be grateful for the altruistic spirit of TLC and the opportunity it gave me.”
If you’d like to hear more about the work of TLC and inspiring first-hand stories from people who have been able to move out of homelessness through TLC’s program, be sure to register for the:
TLC Fundraising & Volunteer Recognition Dinner
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The Courtyard @ Eden Resort
222 Eden Road, Lancaster, PA 17601
Reservations are free, but required. Donations will be accepted at the dinner.
Contact Lucy at email: Lmannix (at) tabornet.org or (717) 358-9377 to make a reservation.
If you aren’t able to attend their dinner, you can read these stories of people who have been helped by TLC in the past year. (note: all of the stories below are from the Lancaster County Reentry Management Organization (RMO). You can find additional stories of TLC residents on the TLC website.)
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