August 14, 2018
A recent conversation with Chris Wilcynski, LMFT, Director of Community and Social Services of Plymouth Healing Communities (PHC) revealed exciting changes happening in the North Beacon Hill neighborhood. With the timely purchase of Eng House, former family home of Jack Eng located next door to the House of Healing, PHC continues to create supportive community for those among us who experience mental illness and homelessness.
Projected renovation completion and move-in date for Eng House is slated for April 2019. “We’re now beginning to dream about programming. We’re looking for partners and further refinement of groups we currently serve,” says Wilcynski.
The emerging supportive community currently consists of the House of Healing (launched by those in covenant with Plymouth Church in 2001) designed as a safe, short-term (three to six months) supportive residence. Residents are discharged directly from Harborview to HOH. The ratio is one companion to one resident. “The home embraces individuals in love and support, where all their needs can be met until they are able to move to more permanent housing. Our goal is that residents go from ‘struggle to thrive.’” If residents have an income source, they are asked to pay 30%. If they have no available resources, their needs are met at HOH for free.
“People love the sense of family, shared meals, support and friendship. ‘It’s a refuge,’ said one resident. There is an amazing amount of gratitude.”
Hofmann House, only one block away, provides long term housing with one on-site companion. PHC manages Grace Apartments, all within a few blocks. Eng will offer eight private rooms and three bathrooms.
“The proximity of Eng House immediately next door to HOH, there will be a badminton court, additional community garden space, more opportunity for neighborhood gatherings and backyard barbeques.
Wilcynski explains how the community is exponential in transforming lives. “People who lived at HOH, like our keeper of the community garden who moved into independent housing two years ago, and she still maintains the garden and visits her HOH friends. It’s a centering place for people, a community hub.”
Residents create their own house rules, and the companion (often a young adult who commits for a one-year stipend) is tasked to ‘create community’ with organized outings, movie nights and more.
Wilcynski, who discovered PHC during graduate school at Seattle University and returned after a stint in the Peace Corps and clinical work, says she is a believer in this model. “If there is one thing I want people to know about PHC, it’s that our work is changing lives. Having ‘home’ makes a difference.”
For more history about Plymouth Church’s support and PHC project updates, go to plyhc.org.
All are invited to attend the annual PHC luncheon at noon, Sunday, September 30, in Hildebrand Hall.