Amanda Boroi couldn’t believe her eyes when she saw the new and improved home she lived in as a child.
“I cried immediately because it is beautiful,” said Boroi, who lives in Columbus. “Over the years, the neighborhood has deteriorated and the house had been all but completely destroyed — the windows were broken out, you could find gun clips in the back yard, the copper wiring had been pulled out and stolen. I expected it to be torn down.”
The house, at 202 W. Miller St., was one of four houses showcased Friday during Truly Reaching You Ministries’ Community Awareness Day. The day was set aside to give donors and community members an opportunity to see first-hand what the ministry (called TRY) does in its mission to help men and women reconnect with their families and smoothly transition back into the community from incarceration and addiction.
More than 60 people took advantage of the opportunity to walk through TRY’s administration building, where they were introduced to the ministry’s Not Wasted program (www.NotWasted.us), which trains women in addiction recovery and post-incarceration to create handcrafted items from recyclable materials. The women are making purses, tote bags and messenger bags out of vinyl from old billboard material, and earrings, bracelets and necklaces from bicycle chains.
The tour also included stops at TRY’s women’s transition house, two of its men’s transition houses and a house on Lake Street in South Akron that is being rehabilitated by men participating in the ministry’s program. Once the house is completed, it will be sold to one of the men who has successfully transitioned back into the community with the help of the ministry.
Jeff Jacot, of Hudson, was among the group of people who took the tour.
Jacot, who works in construction and facilities management, has donated to the ministry and wanted to learn more about it.
“The fact that the ministry successfully helps people re-acclimate into society makes it very worthwhile. The fact that they’re doing it right — training men and women who come through the program with a skill that they can use for gainful employment and helping them to understand that there are people out here who really care — makes it even better,” Jacot said. “This is great to have a chance to actually see the ministry in action and get some ideas about what I can do to help.”
Perry L. Clark founded the ministry in 1999, two years after he was released from prison. Since then, TRY has evolved to provide transitional housing, counseling and mentoring, and employment skills training in construction, commercial lawn care, warehouse inventory logistics, commercial cleaning, sewing and jewelry making.
“It’s all about caring people coming together to give men and women a hand up, not a hand out. We want to provide a supportive environment where they can get on the right track and stay on the right track of being productive citizens,” Clark said. “The community awareness day is a way to show people what is being done and to give community members a chance to talk with some of the people who we are helping in this ministry.”
For Boroi, seeing the transition of her childhood home was more impactful than being told that it had been renovated. She said the transformation of the house from its crumbling state to a gem in the neighborhood brings back happy memories.
“When I signed the house over to [Clark], I never imagined it would become such a beautiful home again. Not only did TRY give the men a beautiful place to live, it helped the men learn skills in rehabbing a home,” Boroi said. “That house represents where I came from. It represents both good and bad memories, but when I look at it now, it takes me back to the time when it was the pride and joy of our family.”
For more information about TRY, go to www.trulyreachingyou.com/.