Our House

The Dorothy Day House keeps homeless families together, creating a safe haven and a community for entire families. 

In typical shelters, homeless families are often separated.  Men are sent to one shelter while women, girls and little boys are sent to another shelter. Parents often must place their teenage  boys in foster care, or find someone willing to provide a home and care for them.  This means that parents cannot stay with their older sons; fathers must leave their daughters and small sons; husbands are separated from wives. Often, rather than experience the trauma of separation, families choose to live in a vehicle or stay in uninhabitable places.

Homelessness is traumatic for the entire family.  How can a family begin to address the dilemmas that face them when they are not allowed to stay together to plan?

We welcome the whole family at the Dorothy Day House and we encourage the strengthening of family bonds during this time of trauma. Because we house several families at a time, our residents are able to offer mutual support and encouragement as they face and overcome the shared obstacles of poverty and homelessness. Families work together to clean and maintain the house and to cook meals. This home-like atmosphere provides a sense of security, especially for the children, fosters self-esteem and uplifts the human spirit. It creates one of the most vital ingredients for escaping poverty—hope.

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Our Families

Our families are diverse in make-up, size, age, religion and ethnicity. They share the common bonds of poverty and homelessness.

Most families have become homeless through one of three circumstances: trauma, unemployment/under-employment or generational poverty.

Family homelessness can occur without warning when a family is in distress because of a house fire, the death or sudden absence of the main wage earner, the expense of medical bills, a car accident or other unexpected circumstances. 

Nearly half of American households live from paycheck to paycheck. This means that a family can fall into homelessness very quickly if the wage earner loses a job or suffers a cutback in work hours.  In addition, some families become homeless because the wage earner does not make a salary sufficient to support the family.  Recent statistics tell us that over 191,000 people in Shelby County live below the poverty line.

Generational poverty accounts for the homelessness experienced by many of our families. Although parents want to change life for themselves and their children, they do not possess the emotional, spiritual, mental and practical tools necessary to do so.  And most often, they do not have a support system that can help them move away from poverty.

No matter what the cause of their homelessness, we welcome all families and work with them to get them into stable housing and secure employment.

Dorothy Day (1897-1980)

Dorothy Day (1897-1980)

Who Was Dorothy Day?

Dorothy Day was a passionate fighter for helping the poor, for peace, for upholding the dignity of human life overall, and, in her words, for helping to bring about “the kind of society where it is easier to be good.” 

Having served so fully as the hands and feet of Christ, she is called a “model of conversion” and “servant of God” by the Catholic Church, which is considering her for sainthood. Today thousands revere her, study her life, and carry on her work.

Our Leadership

The staff handles the day-to-day administrative tasks related to the Dorothy Day House.

Sr. Maureen Griner
Executive Director

Tracy Burgess
Director of Development & Communications

Angela Pieroni
House Manager

Genevieve Spears
Volunteer Coordinator

Sr. Margaret Zinselmeyer
Bookkeeper

Ministry Team

The Ministry Team assists the Executive Director in direct ministry to our families.  2016 Ministry Team members are Joshua Burgess, Tracy Burgess, Judy Gray, Paul Gray, Michael Kauffman, Angela Pieroni, Peggy Steffan, and Sr. Margaret Zinselmeyer.

Board of Directors

The Board of Directors oversees the financial stability of the DDH, assists with fundraising, establishes and oversees progress on our strategic plan.

2017 BOARD CHAIRman

Larry McBride

2017 BOARD MEMBERS

Karen McManus (Vice Chair), Lea Carr (Treasurer), Lauren Ready (Secretary) John Cannon, Pierre Landaiche, Mike McCormick, Susan Mealer, Alison Powers, Fred Spikner, Brenda Solomito Basar, Carol Walker

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Our Volunteers

Volunteers are the lifeblood of our organization. From helping families move in to basic home and yard maintenance, helping with meals, tutoring and childcare, there are volunteer opportunities for all ages. It's a great opportunity for families to work together helping other families, so don't be shy about involving your kids. With flexible hours and many chances to help, even from the comfort and convenience of your own home, know that our families appreciate your gift of time and talent.