[Hpn] NewGenesis challenges homeless to earn their keep;Denver, CO.;11/14/01
Morgan W. Brown
Wed, 14 Nov 2001 10:15:28 -0500
Wednesday, November 14, 2001
Denver Post <http://www.denverpost.com>
NewGenesis challenges homeless to earn their keep
By Dick Kreck <email@example.com>
Denver Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, November 14, 2001 - The bunks are lined up in precise rows. The
walls and floor are spotless. No college dorm room was ever this tidy.
The basement of Central Presbyterian Church, 17th and Sherman, has been a
home for the homeless since 1985, but it didn't always look this good.
"It was heinous," said Page Peary, executive director for NewGenesis, a
"transitional community" for homeless men. It was a poorly lighted, cramped
dungeon where a few dozen men slept on mats on the floor of the 100-year-old
church's basement to get in out of the cold, then were sent on their way the
Today, the shelter serves 2,500 men annually in a bright space kept
ship-shape, in part, by its residents, who must help with domestic chores to
keep the center running. It is the city's only shelter that requires
residents to hold a full-time job and to pay their way en route to what they
hope will be a new start.
NewGenesis recently began a similar, small pilot program for homeless women
In the NewGenesis program, men go through a 12-week series of steps,
beginning with an evaluation. Some of those who show up at the shelter have
mental problems, many are addicted to drugs, and more than a few have been
guests at the city's detox unit so many times that they are referred to as
"frequent fliers." About a third drop out in the first 45 days.
The next step is workshops to relearn social skills - support groups, drug
and alcohol counseling, job training and meal preparation - because many of
the residents have led solitary lives for two years or more.
The ultimate goal is "helping men regain their accountability," according to
Peary. To do this, the program maintains 20 apartments and a house "where
they practice for six months to a year the things they learned here. Things
as basic as getting a checking account or getting a driver's license."
"We challenge them to get back to work. They have to work to stay here. We
have one man who is making $27 an hour as a drywaller."
Peary, 54, went to Vietnam with the military in 1970 and worked with
He wound up in Germany, took correspondence courses from the University of
Maryland, then went to Boston University for graduate work in psychology.
Later he ran drug and alcohol programs in Washington, D.C., and Florida.
Peary, who since 1997 has been running NewGenesis, has a hard-eyed view of
the plight of the men he helps. "This is where the most impact, I think, can
be made. I don't want sympathy for the homeless. I want empathy for their
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more than $1.3 million to 61 agencies last year serving children, the
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Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA
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