Most people go home after a stay in the hospital — but where do the homeless go? Since 2005, a small, yet dedicated, staff at the Samaritan House (currently located at Park Road with plans to move to Fortune Street next year), have cared for more than 570 men and women, providing them with a warm bed, three meals and a helping hand in their recovery. Executive Director Brad Goforth, 57, a North Carolina native who's heavily involved in his guests' care, recently spoke with Creative Loafing about the Samaritan House and his role with the organization.
Creative Loafing: What attracted you to the Samaritan House?
Brad Gorfoth: I have been in nonprofits since 1994. I like the Samaritan House because it is a very hands-on workplace. I get to actually help out on a day-to-day basis [with] all of our guests. And to help them solve some of their problems, watch them heal from being in the hospital and seeing them be able to leave better off than they started is really something special for me.
What is a typical day like for you?
Each of our guests comes with their own unique problems. Not only are they trying to get better from whatever they were in the hospital for, but they are also trying to make their lives a little better as well. So not only am I helping them get back and forth to, say, a doctor's appointment or to get some medicine, I am also helping them get services from those organizations. We try to get them to where they can get some things done so when they leave, they will be better off. Most people, when they leave us, are not going back out to the streets or into the shelters; instead they have found themselves a place to live.
Do you work with them to create a plan or is that something they do on their own?
It's a little of both. I can either get them to where they need to go, or I'll give them some telephone numbers and they'll go to it. One of the things I try to stress with them is this is something they need to do themselves. It's more valuable then.
How has the economy affected your group's efforts?
When the economy took a downturn, our donations went down. They are slowly but surely coming back up, but we still only take donations from individuals, churches and grants from other organizations. We don't take government money at all. We just announced that we are going to expand our services. The orthopedic hospitals are really desperate to help some of our homeless population who have fractured a leg or a hip. We just announced that we are going to purchase a new house [that's] one floor, so we'll now be able to take people on crutches and who are using walkers.
For more information about the Samaritan House, visit www.thesamaritanhouse.org.