Making A Difference

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by Angelle Jone

Making a difference is just what Marchelle Wilson is doing in the lives of 13 young single mothers. Founder and director of Triumph House Corporation, Mrs. Wilson says that she wants to be remembered as someone who made a difference."I don't want them to say, she just lived and died. I want our young people to know that Jesus makes the difference."

A legend in her own time, Marchelle Wilson is determined to see as many lives changed as possible, through the ministry of Triumph House, a transitional home for unwed mothers between the ages of 18 and 30 years old. Triumph House opened in August 1998 almost three years from the very day that Wilson received the mission statement from God. Wilson wrote letters to over 300 pastors in the northeastern Ohio area and received one response. Somewhat discouraged, but not defeated, Wilson was offered a $549,000 three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The city also promised her two floors in the Carl Stokes Building at 6001 Woodland Ave. in Cleveland, which was being renovated at the time. Today there are 25 completed apartments with 13 residents. The apartments were furnished with donations from members of her home church, Church on the Rise, in Westlake, Ohio.

Each resident must go through an assessment, interview and orientation process before being admitted into the program. Of all the requirements including being homeless according to federal guidelines, probably the most important, is having a desire and motivation to make a change in their present lifestyle. It is Mrs. Wilson’s desire to see the cycle of poverty broken from the lives of these young women. She believes that with determination and prayer it can be done. The program is a two year program that offers counseling, mandatory parenting, nutrition and cooking classes, GED and/or job training, basic computer courses and much more. Since it’s opening in August 1998, four residents are attending college, one is in cosmetology school, one is studying to be a medical assistant, one has already received her GED and three are preparing to take the GED test within a few weeks.

The first young mother to enter the program upon it’s opening 7 months ago; told me that Triumph House motivated her to complete her GED and to enter college. She is now studying art and hopes to someday become a fashion designer. She shared her portfolio with me, explaining her various creations and other artwork. She says that Mrs. Wilson and being at Triumph House "pumped her up", and she feels good about her recent successes. Her greatest joy is being reunited with her 2-year-old child after having been separated from him while in foster care. She is now learning to be a mother to her two children and plans on remaining in the program the entire two years to learn all she can before opening her own clothing store.

Having the opportunity to tour the facility and watch Mrs. Wilson interact with the residents was a highlight of the interview. Without a full staff yet, she willingly works many long hours. From watching her handle a delicate situation with one of the women, to seeing her lovingly tease another upon her late return home, you know that this is more than just a job for Marchelle Wilson. Our interview had to end as she prepared to go to the church service held on Monday evenings in the building. Encouraging all of the residents to attend, I was reminded of her sharing with me her favorite verse earlier in the interview. "I am the vine; you are the branches, if a man remains in me and I in him he will bear much fruit," (John 15:5 NIV), and truly, in a short time, Triumph House is already triumphantly bearing much fruit.

For further information or if you would like to volunteer services or donate to Triumph House, you may do so by contacting the office at 216-431-7000.