- Posted June 17, 2014 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Tell us the Good Stuff!
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Columbus Ohio’s Maurice Clarett Creates Transitional Home for Families
Mark Evans donated a completely rebuilt and furnished Columbus home to charity last year. This year, it looks like he is turning it into an annual event. Mark is currently working with Ohio’s own Maurice Clarett and his “Comeback Foundation” to provide a ‘free and clear’, stable home environment for worthy families getting their lives back in order.
Mark’s business is in Florida, but he says. “I was born here, and most of my family stills lives here. I love the good Midwestern values the city and community represent.”
This will be the 4th home Mark has rebuilt, furnished and donated to charity, and the 2nd here in Columbus. The impact of each previous donation was limited to one family, but the “Comeback Foundation” gave Mark a way to help more families.
The pair met when Maurice was speaking onstage. Mark recognized Maurice as a kindred spirit with a complimentary mission. Both Mark and Maurice believe in the same concept, "a hand up, not a hand out".
Volunteer Zachary Fleming explains his motivation, “Most sober house options are a joke. There’s no rehab, they charge hundreds per week and you’re sharing a room. It is difficult for someone to get on their feet and actually gain independence in that environment.”
“That’s why I am so happy to be a part of this” said Zach. “(This is) a group of people who really are able to make something happen that will have an awesome impact on lives.”
The partnership means that the families selected will have 6 to 8 months in the newly refurbished home, stocked “all the way down to new toothbrushes”, to get back on their feet. To help them succeed, the residents of the ‘transitional house’ will have access to network of counselors, training and local work opportunities.
Maurice has been working with Nate Ortiz for 3 years developing leadership and after-school programs aimed primarily at-risk children. “This is huge!” said Maurice. “When you can give recovering families the stability a real home offers, it takes a real burden off them.”
Peter Aquart, American Wealth Builders’ COO said, “It’s not about just providing housing, it’s about elevating that person into a new way of life, thinking, living, etc. Every day we work to help people expand their minds and elevate their goals to reach levels they never even dreamed of, so this is right in line with “teaching a man to fish”.
Maurice has written his own redemption story, going from national champion to inmate and now to inspirational speaker and philanthropist. He learned hard lessons, how to choose the right path, how tough a comeback can be, and just how hard it is to restart your life.
“It is a blessing when you can help”, said Maurice “and helping others is an unspoken responsibility. The gift of this home represents a whole new way we are able to help the community.”
"You can choose to be a victor, not a victim" says Mark. "Maurice inspires other people who are down on their luck. He shows us we have a choice. Maurice has a great impact on people."
Mr. Clarett’s “Come Back” foundation will take ownership of the remodeled home and manage the occupancy. The foundation will select each new family to enjoy the security and stability of a home while making that fresh start.
“We select families graduating from Maryhaven, the same program I came through” says Maurice. He added “being able to provide the help and structure makes me feel worthy.”
This year’s recipient is a single mother with a son at home. Eryk is a bright, artistic 11 year old who likes to play football and basketball, likes to draw and play video games. Eryk has been living with relatives since February and is looking forward to rejoining his mother.
His mother, Vernice, is determined to rebuild her life, get back to work and advance her skills through training opportunities. “This opportunity is a whole new page for me” says Vernice. She feels the need to stay sober and show other women they can overcome their problems. “There is pressure,” she admits, “But I am up to the challenge.”
The foundation is preparing the house according to the tenants’ tastes. “They asked us what we wanted, about colors, even what games Eryk likes. They wanted it to be as homey as possible” said Vernice.
Asked what she wanted others to know, Vernice said, “It’s never too late to fulfill your dreams if you think positive and take it one day at a time.”
The public is invited to meet Eryk and his mom when the house give-away streams live June 21st. Register to be there as it happens - visit http://housegiveaway.org/
Maurice is also seeking volunteers to help complete facilities for their afterschool program. “We need after school programs. They give us a chance to control the narrative our kids are exposed to” said Maurice. The after school project needs drywall, flooring and general sponsors.
To read about Maurice Clarett’s journey, the Comeback foundation and other ongoing opportunities for you to help inner city youth programs, visit: http://mauriceclarettonline.com/
Learn more about Mark Evans at: https://www.facebook.com/markevansdm