Who is this family you‘ve seen on Our House‘s materials for almost 5 years? It‘s the Barnum family: 6 Our House alumni all in one family. Since they left Our House in 2009, the Barnums have continued their success story. The siblings have a new baby brother & sister, while big brother Dante has grown into an army man. Read their story here & meet each member of the Barnum family.
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videos, page 19 2014 video by Zac Hale, Our House Re-Entry Coordinator 2009 video: complete credits listed at end of video newsletter design, Familiar Family article, & all photos by Amanda N. Woods, for use by Our House, © 2009-2014
Youâ€˜ve seen this family in our video, on our websiteâ€˜s home page, on a few past newsletter covers, and in other Our House materials. Everyone who worked at Our House in 2009 remembers the Barnums: the protective older brother, the quiet younger boy, the cute little girl with the name that made everyone do a double-take, the 3-year-old who spoke so well youâ€˜d think she was a puppet, and the single dad who led his four kids in basketball games every evening. It was a family that was almost always smiling, with kids who were more respectful than the average adult. This is a family that stays in your mind.
― ‖ The Barnum family has grown in size and in number since moving out of our Family House in late 2009, and they‘ve continued their success story. They‘ve stayed connected to us through CAFSI and the summer youth program, but they‘re doing so well on their own that they don‘t need much from Our House anymore. Suddenly homeless Before coming to Our House, Cliff Barnum and his four kids lived in Cliff‘s grandmother‘s house. When his grandmother died, she left the house to her whole family, which included Cliff and other relatives. When Cliff‘s uncle moved in and brought drugs into the house, Cliff chose to get his family out, even though it meant they‘d have no place to go just yet. ―I didn‘t want to keep my family in there with the drug problem that he had,‖ he says. ―When I discussed with my mom what was happening, no one backed me up because it was his house as much as it was mine.‖
Photo: the Barnum family in 2009
Cliff‘s story is a stereotype-breaking example of how homelessness can be caused by someone‘s choice to make the right decision. It would be better for his family to be homeless than to let his young children live in a house with drugs. Yes, we take single fathers. Like so many people who have to consider homelessness as the right decision, Cliff started with a phone book. Turned away over and over, he was running out of numbers to call. ―No one accepted single fathers. It was all women and children. Nothing for a man and kids.‖ Cliff happened to hear a co-worker talking about a shelter for the working homeless. ―I didn‘t know if they would take me as a parent. … I talked to Mr. Ross [Shelter Supervisor Stanford Ross] and he said, ‗yes, we take single fathers.‘ … He said he‘d set me up with Justin [Director of Client Services Justin Sanders] to talk about it.‖
Cliff‘s fiancé Krystle joined the family at Our House, and after they were married, the six lived in the Family House together. In November of that year, Our House helped the Barnums get a Section 8 voucher. The voucher came just in time to help them move out of the old Family House before the start of 2010‘s big renovation of the building. Update of an alumni family The Barnum family is now a successful alumni family living with almost no assistance at all from Our House. It took a lot of work to provide for his first four kids after their mom left them. Cliff gives Our House credit for helping them get to this point. ―Our House was set up perfectly, all the tools to become independent.‖ He‘s doing well enough now that he and his wife are still independent after adding two new babies to the family. On the following pages are updates of each member of the Barnum family. Meet each Barnum and see how the family‘s success story has continued since leaving Our House.
Training Instructor at CSTP ―No voucher, no food stamps. It‘s all personal income now,‖ the father of the Barnum family is proud to say. The family keeps a small connection to Our House with the CAFSI program, but, Cliff Barnum says, ―where we are now, we‘re totally independent. I pay all of my bills.‖ Cliff, sitting at the kitchen table feeding his oneyear-old daughter, explains what he does at his job with the Civilian Student Training Program (CSTP), a military-style program for at-risk teens. ―Basically,‖ Cliff says between bits of baby talk with his daughter, ―I‘m a drill sergeant.‖
Cliff says the most important part of his time at Our House was our youth programs. Being an army veteran, Cliff wasn‘t worried about living with the unknowns that come with homelessness, but he didn‘t know if his kids could handle it. ―I was in the army. I‘m used to surviving, being in situations where everything is not necessarily peaches and cream. I was worried about the kids. They had just lost their biological mom. She walked out on them at Christmastime, and now they didn‘t have a home. The youth programs took a lot of stress off of me worrying about the kids being stressed. They were able to have fun, make friends, stay in school, catch the bus right there. Nothing stopped. Everything was still basically normal routine.‖
18, 2014 Graduate, Sylvan Hills High School ―I remember the first day moving in.‖ Dante had heard his dad calling homeless shelters, but he hadn‘t known why his dad was calling. When his dad picked him up after school and told him they were moving into a shelter, Dante says, ―it was a big shock to me.‖ Never having seen the inside of a shelter, the 13-year-old didn‘t know what to expect. ―I imagined blankets and pillows on the floor with everyone stepping over them.‖ What he found here was not the image in his head, but no matter how comfortable Our House is, just knowing that you‘re homeless can be hard to deal with. Dante says ―I remember not being able to sleep that first night. I thought, this is actually happening!‖
While with us, Dante joined the Our Club afterschool program and summer program. What he thinks about most now are the new values that came while living in a single room with his whole family. ―Family time is a big thing I didn‘t value a lot. Now whenever I have a chance to be with my family I try to take advantage of it.‖ Thinking about the past five years overall, Dante says, ―I‘ve been happier since my experience at Our House.‖ Since Our House, Dante has continued to be an active high school student. He has always loved to dance and often gave impressive performances in the Our Club room. After moving to Sherwood, Dante used his dance skill to join the school cheerleading team, even though it wasn‘t always acceptable to other students. He had ―to deal with the rumors and trash-talk of being a male cheerleader,‖ but he didn't let that keep him from
joining the team, Now he talks about it as an ―exciting experience, getting out of my comfort zone.‖ With graduation time here, Dante is scheduled to leave for a military base this summer. ―I‘m going to be a Practical Nurse for the United States Army.‖ Dante says it‘s not his army dad‘s influence but a ―personal choice. … With the military, I‘ll always have a career and always have money.‖ He says the concern about money doesn‘t come from his experience with homelessness but from ―thinking long term. If I was to have a family of my own I‘d be able to take care of them.‖
In Our Club, other teens like Dante can get help preparing for the future. Our new Children‘s Center has a teen room designed for 13to 17-year-olds, where they can study, practice for the ACT, work on job skills, or relax with friends.
11, 6th-grader at Sylvan Hills Middle School Isaiah doesn‘t talk as much as the other Barnum kids, but he stays just as busy. Isaiah helps his dad with his deejay equipment and has learned about computers by watching his dad. ―It‘s pretty easy to hook up,‖ Isaiah says about his technical skills. When Cliff had a virus, Isaiah saw him replacing his hard drive. Then, when Isaiah‘s uncle gave him a computer of his own, Isaiah took his dad‘s hard drive out and put it in his own computer, all by remembering what he had seen his dad do, because his dad‘s computer had music on it that he wanted. Isaiah and his family like to use their tech skills to make their own music. In 2009, Isaiah and his brother and dad wrote and recorded their own alphabet and counting songs for the kids in Little Learners Child Development Center at Our House.
Because of the interest that Isaiah and other Our House kids have in technology, our after-school program has increased the technology activities available to the kids. Our new Children‘s Center has a technology room filled with equipment like PCs, tablets, a sound recording room, and e-beam with white board paint.
10, 5th-grader at Oakbrook Elementary Let‘s get this part out of the way: Yes, her name is Mrs. That‘s capital-M-r-s-period. misiz Mrs. For Mrs., Our House was half-a-lifetime ago. After the Barnums moved out of our Family House, Mrs. stayed in our summer youth program for a couple more years. Like most of Our House‘s kids, all she remembers of her time here is the fun she had. ―When I went to summer camp [Our House‘s summer youth program] we went on a lot of field trips. We went outside and rode bikes and scooters, and we played basketball.‖
Mrs. is another Barnum dancer, and, like her brother, she has cheerleading experience. Before coming to Our House, she was a cheerleader for Dante‘s football team. She plans to get back to cheering in the future. ―When I get in middle school I want to try out for cheerleading.‖
Ten-year-old Mrs. doesn‘t have much to say about her memories of Our House, and that‘s just the way we like it. One of our goals for our youth programs is that our kids can continue their normal lives with as little interruption as possible, and that when they move out of the Shelter or Family House they can move on to the rest of their lives without any negative effects from their brief time in homelessness. Mrs. and her siblings are some of our greatest success stories. In their minds, Our House was just a place to have fun for a while.
8, 2nd-grader at Oakbrook Elementary ―All I know is it was fun when I was there!‖ Taniasha was only 3 years old when she lived at Our House, so she doesn‘t remember much about her days in the Family House or in Little Learners Child Development Center.
As a 6-year-old alumna kid, Taniasha was old enough to participate in the summer youth program with her older sister and brothers two years ago. Her favorite part was when she ―got on computers and learned a lot of stuff.‖ Not a surprising favorite for this smart little girl. Smiling, Taniasha modestly says, ―I‘m really not that smart,‖ but that clearly isn‘t true. She plans to be a psychologist ―because I love to read.‖ She understands that being a psychologist will require a lot of studying, and she‘s prepared to do it. She reads as often as she can and is proud when she reads books that are over her reading level. Taniasha is a kid who loves to learn. ―I‘m good at math and science. I‘m good at writing letters.‖
Kids Taniasha‘s age get plenty of opportunities for reading at Our House. In Little Learners, the kids love to grab books and run to claim a spot in a volunteer‘s lap for story time. In Our Club, the school-age kids have individual reading time after they finish their homework. Kids can read on their own, choosing books from the Our Club bookcases, or they can pair with a volunteer tutor to work on reading skills.
student at Pulaski Tech ―I think that everybody there was on the verge of an upcoming to do something great,‖ Krystle remembers about the other residents she met while at Our House. ―They were determined to do something for themselves.‖ She says she used to prefer keeping to herself but likes that she had the chance at Our House to be around people more. ―The atmosphere was like family and love. That was good for me.‖ After leaving Our House, Krystle got her GED and is now a student at Pulaski Tech. She plans to be a counselor. While she‘s in school, she‘s also the full-time mom of the six kids.
Like her husband, Krystle gives Our House credit for the family‘s current independence. ―Our House was there to give us a great boost to … being on our own and helping us be able to make it without assistance.‖ She tells us how grateful she is for the continued connection with Our House, even though their family is now independent. ―Y‘all still look out for us! It keeps us on our toes.‖
You may recognize the Barnum family from our previous website‘s home page. The family also let us photograph them for our 2009 video of Cliff and two other Our House clients talking about their experiences in our programs. This spring, Our House‘s Zac Hale filmed the Barnum family at their house to update their success story. Click the images at right to see the videos.
the babies He‘s only two years old, but Cliff Jr. has already made his own place in the large family. ―He keeps us laughing.‖ Krystle says. ―He has something new for us every day.‖ Today, Cliff Jr. is busy trying to master his plastic bowling ball and pins. Baby Kryston joined the Barnums one year ago and is eager to catch up to the older kids. ―With her being the last one,‖ Krystle says, ―I watch her watching the older kids.‖ Kryston tries to do everything she sees her brothers and sisters doing. ―She‘s been walking since she was 8 months old,‖ Krystle says as Kryston makes her way across the room, leaning forward and teetering from one little foot to the other with her arms straight out for balance.
The babies weren‘t born yet when the Barnums lived at Our House, but they haven‘t been left out of the Our House community. The Barnums have used CAFSI and the youth programs to keep a connection with us. Also available to our alumni is the F.R.E.S.H. alumni group, where alumni meet to talk about their Our House experiences and to do volunteer projects and fundraisers.
Thanks to the many generous donors who bought tickets and participated in the raffle at Dinner on the Grounds 2014 and to those who sponsored the event. Your contributions helped us surpass our goal for this year.
Dinner on the Grounds raised $141,000 for Our House programs. Orange Sky, the painting created live at the event by Danny Broadway, was purchased by Rusty Mathis and donated to Our House for the Childrenâ€˜s Center. Special thanks to our presenting sponsor Ben E. Keith, who provided food for the event. Glazerâ€˜s donated drinks, South On Main prepared a specialty cocktail, and Diamond Bear provided root beer. Loblolly brought their ice cream truck with three flavors. Whole Foods gave goodie bags to guests. Our deepest gratitude to our event chairs Yvette and Andrew Parker and the committed team of volunteers whose service on the Dinner on the Grounds committee made this event such a success.
Georgia Mjartan, Executive Director When people become homeless due to natural disasters, there are systems in place to take care of the impacted men, women, and children in the short term. National nonprofits like the Red Cross and Salvation Army along with local groups including the faith community and smaller nonprofits do a great job of stepping in with short-term assistance like hotel vouchers, basic needs provision, and even temporary housing. Thankfully, these short-term emergency solutions are often all that a disaster victim needs. Many are able to rebuild and re-establish their lives. People with insurance rebuild their homes. People whose places of work were destroyed can often find other jobs. The role that Our House plays in the lives of disaster victims is more long term. In the case of Hurricane Katrina, we didnâ€˜t have many evacuees who came into our shelter in the weeks after the disaster. During that time, the evacuees who had come to Arkansas were receiving support from FEMA and others. But when the hotel vouchers ran out and there was no job and no home to return to, many of the people who had come to Arkansas stayed. People who were just barely making it in New Orleans, working in restaurant and hotel jobs, renting an apartment, with no insuranceâ€”Katrina left these people homeless not only in the short term but also
in the long term. We saw people who were made homeless by that natural disaster for months and even years after the hurricane was no longer making headlines. I hope that all of the people who were made homeless by the tornadoes that hit Central Arkansas last month are able to rebuild their lives and quickly. But for the people who were already on the edge, who didnâ€˜t have insurance, whose homes and places of work are gone, for those people Our House will be here. We are here in the weeks after a disaster and also in the months and years that follow.
Jessica Suitor, CAFSI Case Manager If a family experiences a loss of housing because of a natural disaster and is living with a relative or friend, the CAFSI Program can help provide resources and case management for transitioning the family back into living on their own again. In the past, CAFSI has helped families who lost their home because of fire and were living with relatives. Our Houseâ€˜s CAFSI (Central Arkansas Family Stability Institute) Program works with families who are not homeless and not living at Our House, connecting them with Our Houseâ€˜s other programs to assist with finding full-time employment, increasing financial stability, and providing an after-school program.
by Niki Hitt, In-Kind Donations VISTA & Ezell Breedlove, Volunteer Relations VISTA
Family Volunteer Day Over 40 volunteers participated in Our Houseâ€˜s first annual Family Volunteer Day event. The day aligned with Global Youth Service Day (yearly in April), a day of service for youth worldwide. Families and individuals of all ages came to our Family Volunteer Day to do projects that were suitable for a wide range of ages. Projects included planting flowers (donated from The Good Earth Garden Center), re-mulching the playground, and water sealing the playground fence.
First United Methodist Church Youth Choir The group of high school and college students visited from Cookeville, TN. After serving lunch, they organized clothing donations and carried them to the storage shed. After a tour of our campus, a few of the volunteers spent some time helping with the babies in the infant room of Little Learners.
J. Jill J. Jill has been keeping our ladies stylish. Thanks to a gently-used clothing drive hosted by J. Jill, our ladies have been able to stock up on professional clothing for work and for job interviews. We always appreciate J. Jill and their frequent donations of women‘s clothing.
Sam Bequette Sam is a consistent presence at Our House. He averages about 18 hours each month doing an assortment of volunteer tasks. His volunteer projects have included administrative work; sorting clothing donations; grounds and maintenance work; and picking up, loading, unloading, and putting away donations. Sam is always eager to do whatever is needed.
Cardinal Health knows how to throw a drive! Our House loaded six and a half trucks full of breakfast food, laundry detergent, cleaning supplies, clothing, and other essential items from a drive that Cardinal Health hosted. The employees were in teams and had a competition to see who could bring the most items.
Individuals Jan Alman Anonymous Donor Lenlie Freeman Julia & Lyle Heim Susan Hunter Doris & Mark Krain Rachel Lang Bobbye & Rabbi Eugene Levy Jo & Presley Melton Cathy & Michael Moran Benjamin Nice Mary Orellano Marena & Jim Padden Debbie Perkins Patricia Rasul Dixie Richards Evelyn Rose Rebecca & Robert Schulte Jeffrey Trowbridge Cassidy Ulvestad Bridget & Andrew Upchurch Jennifer Wang Angel & Drew Weber Norma Whitsitt
Congregations Church of the Immaculate Conception Our Lady of Holy Souls Catholic Church Park Hill Christian Church St. Anne Catholic Church St. James United Methodist Church St. Michael‘s Episcopal Church
Memorials & Honors Anonymous Donor in honor of Walter Malone & James Fleming Charles Knight in honor of Thomas Knight & Jennifer Redmond Ann Leitch in honor of Thomas Knight & Jennifer Redmond Douglas Ziegler in honor of Thomas Knight & Jennifer Redmond
Organizations Anonymous Donor Lisa Academy Rotary Club of Little Rock
Corporations Bank of America Foundation Cardinal Health IBM Employees Vestcom Government AR Special Nutrition Program City of Little Rock: Reentry Program DHS– AmeriCorps Non-Government Grants Heart of Arkansas United Way John & Robyn Horn Foundation, Inc. United Way—CAFSI Windgate Charitable Foundation
Capital Donations Amy Bressinck Bratcher Kevin Bratcher Sharon & John Denery Susan & Dave Hoffpauir Amanda Hughes
Judy & Tad Krug Lighthouse Group, LLC Nabholz Charitable Foundation Felton Rhodes Melissa & James Cooper Riley Jr. Jessica & Blake Rutherford Billie & Skip Rutherford Lareda & Danny Smith Annabelle C Imber & Henry Tuck Angel & Drew Weber Jonnie & Kent Westbrook Mike White Elizabeth & William Woodyard Tie One On 2013 Jennifer & Steve Ronnel Dinner on the Grounds AR Electric Cooperative Arnold Audio Baptist Health Christie & Steven Bardwell Katherine Beherec Bethy Kay Bell Nancy & Robert Bendigo Kirk Meyer Bradshaw Susan & Nick Brown Bonnie & Stephen Buck City of Little Rock Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods, Inc. Jan Cross Darrin Williams for State Representative Deltic Timber Corporation Sharon & John Denery Skip Ebel Patricia & Richard Elimon Entergy Erwin & Company, P.A. Karen & John Flake Shelley Fleming Dora Jane & Greg Flesher
Alec Gaines Ann Marshall & Anthony Grigsby Rita & Wayne Gruber Rocco Guerra Hadidi Oriental Rug Co. Tami & V. Rob Herndon III Olivia Hussman I-K Electric Company Jordan Johnson Consulting LLC Janna Knight Margaret & Ray Koone Law Office of Danyelle Walker PLLC Betty & Maxwell Lyons Anne & Michael Mancino Barbara Graves & Barry McDaniel Mitchell, Williams, Selig, Gates, & Woodyard, P.L.L.C. Steff & Fernando Padilla Yvette Parker Wendy & James A. Penney III DDS, PA Nancy & Tad Phillips Jennifer R. Pierce Ann Portis Pro Kids Therapy LLC Robertson Law Firm PLLC Deanna Rust Jessica & Blake Rutherford Laurie & Theodore Shelton Suzanne & Barry Sims Sol Alman Company Melissa & Kent Sorrells Jill & Andrew Speed St. Jude the Apostle Catholic Church Connie & Ed Staley Natalie & Brent Staley Geraldine & Paul Stiedle Strother Strategies, Inc. Ashley Tellez Kristy Tellez Cathy Tuggle Jana & Christopher Villemez Hannah Vogler Kathy & George Wells
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Our House E-Newsletter May & June 2014