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. Wilsons
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 its 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 its 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.