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Marchese and Caldwell

Dominick Marchese and Shannon Caldwell now have an apartment to share with their 11-year-old daughter. (Mark Ylen/Democrat-Herald)

Guest speaker to relay his inspiring experience at 'Bridge of Hope’ event

Plenty of people who find their way to Helping Hands homeless shelter in Albany lack jobs, education or other life skills. Not all of them are willing to change.

Director Dan Kress said Dominick Marchese is a particular exception. That’s why Marchese has been selected to be a guest speaker next month at the shelter’s annual “Bridge of Hope” banquet and benefit auction.

The event is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Linn Fair & Expo Center. Reservations are required; cost and ticket information is available by calling 541-974-6709.

Marchese moved to the mid-valley from Florida last summer and ended up at Helping Hands in December. He wanted very much to get his girlfriend, Shannon Caldwell, and her 11-year-old daughter out of their own homeless situation and into a place where the three of them could be together.

Marchese was working in the shelter’s kitchen at the time. When Kress learned of his family situation, he suggested Marchese contact the Community Services Consortium and see about connecting with one of its transitional housing programs.

Marchese jumped at the opportunity, Kress recalled. By January he was a part of the CSC program and by late February the three of them were in their own apartment, where their rent will be subsidized for the next 12 months. The idea is that by the end of the year, the two either will be able to take on the entire portion of their rent or will have enough resources to find a new place of their own.

In the meantime, Kress and Caldwell both have signed on with the CSC’s self-sufficiency program. Both are pursuing General Education Development certificates, Marchese is working on vocational rehabilitation, and Shannon is seeking employment. They are required to keep moving toward their goals as long as they’re part of the transitional housing program.

“I was really impressed with Dominick as a self-starter,” Kress said. “He’s a self-motivator. He wants to do something with his life.”

Kress said he’s hoping Marchese will share that message at the April banquet.

“It shows we can help people if they really want to have help,” he said. “But they have to walk along with it and take the steps.”

For his part, Marchese said he’s looking forward to telling the audience how grateful he’s been for the assistance he’s had to date. Helping Hands even took care of him this winter when an allergic reaction to penicillin laid him up for more than two weeks.

Now that he’s in a place of his own, Marchese said, he looks forward to volunteering at the shelter’s kitchen simply because he can, not because he has to.

“I will never forget Albany Helping Hands,” he said.

IF YOU GO

What: Helping Hands homeless shelter’s fourth annual Bridge of Hope Dinner Auction

When: 5 p.m. Thursday, April 24

Where: Linn County Fair & Expo Center, 3700 Knox Butte Road, Albany

Cost: Table captains are needed at $250 per table. Each table captain can offer tickets to guests. Members of the general public also are invited but are asked to call shelter development director John Donovan first for reservations.

Information: John Donovan, 541-974-6709

Jennifer Moody is the education reporter for the Democrat-Herald. She can be reached at 541-812-6113 or jennifer.moody@lee.net.

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Education Reporter

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