"When it rains at night, we all get up"

Early in the 1980s, Sacred Heart Southern Missions began offering repairs through a new Housing Ministry to save family homes in Walls, Mississippi. Repairing leaky roofs came first. The roofs on 10 houses in Walls leaked so badly some residents couldn’t sleep when it rained. As one resident explained, “When it rains at night, we all get up. There’s no place big enough to stretch out and not get wet.”

In 1987, the need to save poor families from homelessness grew. The sharecropper shacks and block houses where they lived began to become so unsanitary, the families living in them were evicted. Hovels that had housed families for generations were disintegrating. More and more families needed new housing they could afford. Sacred Heart Southern Missions organized a coalition. It included five partners that collaborated to raise funds. Those funds provided 16 families with new homes.

In 1995, the Dehon Village Master Plan was unveiled to provide the poor with even more housing. The community was dedicated and its first eight homes were built in the same year. In 1996, 30 more homes were built. In a spacious, quiet, well-maintained site in Walls, 38 homes remain available for those who cannot afford homes elsewhere. The idea behind Dehon Village was to create transitional housing - safe, affordable space for families who needed a place to live while they repaired their credit, attended job training or restored order to their family life. Once accomplished they would move on and open up a similar opportunity for another family.

The Dehon Village story begins with these homes, but it doesn’t end there. The Sacred Heart blesses residents in a variety of ways at the Dehon Village Learning Center. There, ministers provide activities the residents choose that enrich their lives.

Residents can pursue classwork that helps them qualify for home loans. They learn how to establish good credit, how to build and manage a family budget, how to maintain a home and more. Beyond home ownership, residents can improve their lives in many other ways through activities at the Center - computer instruction, job readiness, healthy eating choices and budgeting are just a few. Dehon Village is more than a collection of structures. It is more than simply shelter. It is a community of neighbors who care for one another and build better lives with your help.

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