Utica, NY: Catholic Charities Oneida/Madison County hosted a Grand Welcome & Ribbon Cutting at Grady’s Way Homeless Shelter on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, at 1404 Genesee Street, Utica.
The open house with tours and refreshments took place from 3:00 pm-5:00 pm with the Ribbon Cutting at 4:00 pm. “This is the most exciting day of my life,” said founder Grady Faulkner, to the jam-packed crowd assembled for the ribbon cutting. Present were local dignitaries, elected officials, and government representatives.
Executive Director of Catholic Charities, Denise Cavanaugh, announced the completion of a $2.3 million dollar renovation project, utilizing a New York State HHAP (Homeless Housing Assistance Program) grant. Cavanaugh stated, “This is a significant day in our community’s history that will have a profound effect on the well-being of our youth. Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison County, along with Grady Faulkner and his team, and the Mohawk Valley Housing and Homeless Coalition, have been preparing for this day for several years. We have been working tirelessly to provide an extraordinary environment for our adolescent boys who are homeless; in order to give these youth a chance.”
Grady’s Way is an eleven-bed emergency homeless shelter for teens age 12-18. Three permanent supported apartments are also located on the third floor of the shelter building for young men ages 18-25.
Grady’s Way will:
*Provide a safe living environment where youth will learn critical life and job skills
*Allow high-risk young men to engage in supervised activities, mentoring, and counseling
*Respond to the needs of youth in crisis, including food, clothing, emergency shelter, treatment, referrals, and long term planning
*Help youth to safely discharge from the program and achieve stable living arrangements by reuniting them with their family or connecting them to alternative living arrangements
Standing well over 6 feet tall, Grady Faulkner, know to many as ‘the gentle giant’ has a heart for children and is the parent-community liaison for Sen. James H. Donovan Middle School in Utica.
An adept counselor of young people, the need for a shelter grew out of Faulkner’s years of listening to the problems of at-risk middle school boys. Faulkner told a story about one boy who wanted to know why no one liked him unless he was playing football. Things were fine while he was scoring points on the field but when the season was over no one had the time or a place for him.
“There are boys with fathers in jail or mothers on drugs who go from house to house sleeping on couches or abandoned houses wherever they can,” Faulkner said.
He began a mission to create a shelter for these homeless children which led him to a donor who shared his concern. After much seeking for the right local partner Grady’s determination eventually led him to Steve Darman, chair of the Mohawk Valley Housing and Homeless Coalition, which is how he and his idea for Grady’s Way came to Catholic Charities four years ago.
He was joined on the grand staircase by a host of local women and men who have helped him to achieve this dream. Family from out of town joined him in the ribbon-cutting ceremony where he also mentioned his parents who would have been proud to be with him. “The reason we’re here is for the boys who are now on the streets,” Cavanaugh said.
Grady Faulkner has made sure they have a home.