Member Spotlight: The New Guy

If you want to know about baseball statistics, Bible facts or the steel industry, Martin’s* your man. Like other residents at Jacob’s House, he has had a bumpy life but has found a place of community and calm through the Well. “I guess you could say I’m the new guy. I’ve lived here about six weeks,” he says, “and it’s been a good fit for me. I looked into a lot of other places, but Jacob’s House was the right place for me.”  House manager, Anthony, agrees, “Martin is a quiet man who gets along well with the rest of us.”

Martin lived most of his life in Ohio around the steel industry. When mills started shutting down in his area, he lost his job and his hope. “I went into what you might call a depression. I developed anger issues and had trouble getting along with people.” A few years ago, Martin moved to the Metro area to be near his adult children and their families, but finding the right housing for him took some time. “I was glad when we discovered Jacob’s House. The guys here are great, and I really like spending time at the Well Community.”

Founded by the Well Community in 2007 to address the serious shortage of affordable, safe housing for men living with mental health conditions, Jacob’s House has been home to several dozen men over the years. The house is licensed by the City of Dallas and offers a safe haven where up to eight men share meals, friendship and encouragement.

“Honestly, we don’t get much turnover these days,” says Alice Zaccarello, Well Executive Director. “Its been about four years since we’ve had an opening, and one resident has lived there since we opened the house,” she explains. “We were so sad when one of our elderly residents passed away a few months ago, and I knew I needed to take time to find just the right person to add to our group home,” she says. “Because the current residents are older gentlemen, we looked for someone in their same age range. And because our goals for Jacob’s House are stability and community, we have to fill it with men who want to be around people and are able to participate with kindness and concern for others.”  She continues, “Also, because housing for low-income people with chronic mental health conditions is so limited, we also make sure that we are meeting the needs of men with literally no other housing options.”

Ben, a fellow resident, shares how Martin is beginning to learn the ways and rhythms of the home. “One day I was sitting on the porch on a very hot afternoon. Martin came out to join me, but barely sat down when he got back up and went inside. A few minutes later he came out with a cold bottle of water for me. He said, ‘You always ask others if you can serve them something, I thought you might like to be served, too.’ I was so pleased.”

Anthony explains that settling into Jacob’s House takes time. “We give new guys a chance to see how we do things, how we get along, then slowly ease them into household chores. We want to make the transition as easy as possible for them.”

As a resident at Jacob’s House, Martin is also a member of the Well Community where he participates in the Community Life Center and Thursday Night Life. “I like the things we do at the Well, and the people. As a Christian, I really enjoy the Thursday night Worship Service and the weekday Bible studies. I also like talking with my housemates about religion.”

Alice says she is so pleased that Martin has found the Well Community and Jacob’s House his “place to belong.” She observes, “He enjoys sitting on the porch at the house and listening to the other guys. But he also comes to the Well nearly every day, participating in all we have to offer.”

*Names are pseudonyms.

The Well Community offers support and a shelter from stigma for those dealing with serious mental illnesses. Your gift to the Well will help address underlying issues that lead to housing challenges among these individuals, and provide them with opportunities to pursue self-sufficiency.

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