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All three supportive homes are for those seeking an alcohol-free and drug-free lifestyle. Residents are screened with a thorough background check. A live-in Resident Assistant oversees each home.
Our newest supportive home, the Buddy Smith Home focusing on military veterans, opened in May 2012. With the completion of this project, the Fort Smith area has an important resource in helping our homeless male veterans return “home.”
The two-story, 5,053-square foot home provides supportive housing and a lifestyles program to help veterans get back on their feet. Ten bedrooms are dedicated to military veterans with coordinated case management through the Veteran's Administration. One room is occupied by a live-in resident assistant, and the other five bedrooms are available for other homeless men, regardless of veteran status.
The Buddy Smith Home was named in honor of the late Ralph T. “Buddy” Smith who served in the Pacific through the Army Air Corps. Buddy Smith also believed strongly in helping the less fortunate, including homeless individuals, according to his son, Tim R. Smith, a board member of The Next Step.
Employment seems impossible when safe child care is a priority. Further education seems out of reach. Living on the street, in a vehicle, or with acquaintances is often dangerous. The Esther Home opened in November 2009 and has been a blessing to 27 wonderful women and children. Expenses are paid, including groceries, by the Next Step Day Room while these women pursue specialized job skills and then become employed. A savings of 80% of all income is required and is returned to them when they leave the program.
"We are finally safe — truly safe!"
- Esther Home Resident
It is a welcome oasis from the perils of living on the street. Supportive services are tailored to the individual needs of each resident. Those services may include conflict resolution, budgeting, employment preparation and placement, job retention skills, psychological counseling and much more. The Staff and the Board of Directors really care about the success of the Gabriel House residents.
"More funds need to focus on effective programs like this to end homelessness."
-Sharon Selig, Neighbor of Gabriel House