No longer homeless: Emmaus House opens its doors to needy men

Jean Amodea special to the Banner
Dave Sampson, resident at Emmaus House has fulfilled a life long dream of being able to repair bicycles for needy youngsters. He is celebrating his one year anniversary of recovery from addiction, this August. The Emmaus House is a residential re-entry program for homeless men or recovering addicts.

Jean Amodea special to the Banner Dave Sampson, resident at Emmaus House has fulfilled a life long dream of being able to repair bicycles for needy youngsters. He is celebrating his one year anniversary of recovery from addiction, this August. The Emmaus House is a residential re-entry program for homeless men or recovering addicts.

EMMAUS HOUSE GRAND OPENING

When: 8 a.m. Monday

Where: 2546 Franklin Street, Fort Myers (between Evans and Fowler)

Store hours: 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

Contact: (239) 226-0557 or visit www.emmaushousecorp.com

Jean Amodea special to the Banner
Nathan Nelson works on repairing computer hardware at Emmaus House, a skill he is learning to master. Nelson lives at the Emmaus House, a residential re-entry program for homeless men or recovering addicts.

Jean Amodea special to the Banner Nathan Nelson works on repairing computer hardware at Emmaus House, a skill he is learning to master. Nelson lives at the Emmaus House, a residential re-entry program for homeless men or recovering addicts.

Jean Amodea special to the Banner
Emmaus House resident, Austin Frakes, 22, is happy to be learning computer software repair skills. One day he hopes to supervise the business. Frakes has lived at the Emmaus House, a residential re-entry program for homeless men or recovering addicts, for six months with his brother Justin.

Jean Amodea special to the Banner Emmaus House resident, Austin Frakes, 22, is happy to be learning computer software repair skills. One day he hopes to supervise the business. Frakes has lived at the Emmaus House, a residential re-entry program for homeless men or recovering addicts, for six months with his brother Justin.

“Jesus Christ is my driving force in life now.”

With that mantra, retiree Brian Sears has found a new mission in life that occupies his time, while benefiting the community and the cause of Christ — the Emmaus House.

Described as a Christ-centered, residential re-entry and recovery program that supports and educates men to become productive Christian members of society, Emmaus House will celebrate the grand opening of its new location on Aug. 1.

While DJ John Nichols spins tunes and volunteers fire up the grill, the community will get a chance to view the facility and learn how they can both support and benefit from the Emmaus House businesses.

Sears, the father of two grown children, has 30 years experience as a businessman in the construction industry. Using that background, he has expanded the nonprofit residential facility to include a commercial business component.

Residents learn necessary skills, and then apply those skills to operate and staff the businesses like a thrift store, computer repair and sales, and lawn and property services. Car detailing and small engine repair is available by appointment.

Revenue from the businesses funds the in-house living and work programs and provides a modest paycheck to the residents.

“I had a God-inspired plan to start a program to help those in need. I set up a transparent program that takes nothing and gives everything back to the men,” Sears explained.

Once a member of the Gulf Coast Church of Christ, Sears eventually took over the church’s cleaning contract, which provided start-up funding and served as a credible work reference and the proof of income needed to rent the Dora Street residential location. It opened last November.

The congregation then furnished the house through donations. While not court approved as a rehab facility, Emmaus House is up to its maximum residency at its two locations, on Dora and Hoople streets. Sears said there is a waiting list.

The Franklin Street location will act as the commercial business center.

The center meets housing and daily hygiene needs, provides transportation to meetings and offers church and educational programs, Sears said.

During regular counseling sessions, some topics explored are abuse, family dysfunction, depression, anxiety, grief, poor relationships, and addictions like alcohol, drugs, food, pornography, sexual addiction and more. Group or private session are held weekly or as needed, 24 hours per day.

Residents participate in a six-month course entitled “Bridge builders, the way home,” a study used by national recovery centers.

“The study is a daily exercise covering the 12 steps of Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous and other such programs with Christian applications. The study educates residents about achieving and continuing to live a drug and alcohol free life by putting Jesus Christ and others first,” he said.

Life skills training are reinforced in weekly meetings. They include resume building, appearance, character, ethics, social skills, study skills, goal setting, job searching, follow-through, communication skills and community service.

Resident referrals come from Southwest Florida Addiction Services, Ruth Cooper Center of Fort Myers, Bob Janes Triage Center in Fort Myers, the Salvation Army, Fort Myers Police Department and churches.

“The men also come in from the streets and the woods — pretty much God sends them and we take them. We ask that they come to us sober and we will take care of the rest. However, we are unable to house sex offenders and serious violent crime offenders,” said Sears.

A program fee of $150 per week ($25 is absorbed by the program and residents can use food stamps) or $500 a month is required. One hot, balanced meal per day is provided and plentiful breakfast and lunch items are always on hand via donations.

Combining faith, hope and charity with meeting their physical needs is seeing the residents through.

One three-month resident, Austin Frakes, 20, agrees. Formerly of Memphis, Tenn,, Frakes and his brother, Justin, moved to Southwest Florida about six months ago, after losing their jobs and being evicted.

While not addicts, the brothers were homeless and said they had nowhere to turn. They put their situation in God’s hands and started attending St. Francis Xavier Church, in Fort Myers.

When church officials learned they were homeless, the brothers were referred to Emmaus House and are now residents, learning practical job skills.

“My lifelong dream was to learn computer software repair and skills, and now it is a reality,” said Austin Frakes.

Residents awake at 6 a.m. for morning prayer, and at 7:15 a.m. they do community service or job searches. In the evenings, they can attend bible study, listen to speakers, or participate in fundraising events. The residents enjoy free time as well.

In the future, Sears would like to open a house for women and a growth fund is already designated for that purpose.

© 2011 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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