by Renisha James
Most people have heard of homeless shelters… battered women and children shelters… But have you ever heard of an HIV/AIDS shelter? I hadn’t until I ran across the Francis House located in Tampa, Florida.
The Francis House is a different type of HIV/AIDS organization in that it offers services that really aim to improve its clients’ way of life through the principles and teachings of St. Francis of Assisi. He believed in the power of compassion, individual responsibility and accountability.
“Our services are designed to teach clients effective skills for making appropriate life choices while exercising responsibility for their own actions.”
It sounds to me, like a “tough-love” approach that involves owning up to your actions and then improving them without shame. Every program offered at the Francis House is absolutely free and aims to provide the best possible service and to enlighten the lives of their clients with positive change.
Among their many programs (that includes daily classes such as Spirituality, Relapse Prevention, and Guided Meditation) was one that caught my eye (and my heart) when I was going through their website. The Francis House offers a food pantry where clients can get non-perishable food items and hygiene products with “Francis House Dollars” that are earned by participating regularly in the daily programs. The “Francis House Dollars” program has helped improve the self-esteem and self-worth of clients giving them a sense of accomplishment. I think this pulled on my heart-strings a bit because there are many cases where an HIV positive person has been disowned by family or friends and has no where to go. Its inevitable that their self-esteem or confidence would be extremely low. The Francis House gives them the option of rebuilding that confidence by earning it through responsibility.
Coming up in September, the Francis House will be celebrating its 20th year of service to the Tampa community. In my opinion, this is definitely an organization committed to really getting to the heart of those who have been infected by rebuilding them from the inside out. To get more info about The Francis House visit: www.francishouse.org