Originally founded in 1986, Supportive Transitional & Emergency Housing Ministry has been helping address the increasing need of homelessness throughout the city of Wilmington.
Dorothy Medeiros, parish social minister at St. Helena’s Parish in Bellefonte was first approached by a local priest looking for a solution to the growing need of homeless people knocking on Catholic church doorsteps seeking shelter. A few weeks and one meeting later, STEHM was formed with an all-volunteer board of directors, and an ambitious goal.
Celebrating their 35th anniversary in 2021, STEHM is still thriving with two different programs aimed to help families and individuals seeking emergency housing, according to STEHM Director Patricia Curry. Since its inception, STEHM has been able to provide shelter to more than 8,000 men, women, and children for a total of 150,000 bed nights, she said.
The first program created was the Motel Ministry program which provides a motel voucher for one week for men, women, and children. Curry said this program is used to help those who find themselves in an emergency without any plans for shelter. The second program generated was Martha Houses I and II, according to Mariana Reyes, president of the board of directors of STEHM.
At the Martha House, women and children have the opportunity to stay for months, up to a year while they are educated on how to manage their finances, or attend school, she said. Each guest must save 30% of their income as part of a financial education program overseen by a certified financial coach. The guests of Martha House also have weekly visits with their case workers, and learn how to become independent on their own.
Reyes has been working with the organization for three years. She said that she loves the “impact STEHM has on the community, and the people it serves. The board is an all working board of volunteers who are very hands-on.”
Curry said she is grateful for the opportunity to “change people’s lives and make a difference in the long term.” STEHM is mainly funded by grants, which the board of directors seek out, and then apply for. They receive some money from the City of Wilmington, and the New Castle County government, but do much of the fundraising on their own. Each member of the board of directors brings their own talents to the organization, and contribute any way they can. Some members have a finance background and manage STEHM’s books, while others with a communications background write the monthly newsletters and manage the organizations website.
Volunteers and supporters can visit the website at www.STEHM.org.