On any given day, dozens of men at Providence Home in Columbia bow their heads to pray. They pray for different things - a job, a way to transition to society after serving time in prison, to defeat the demons of drug and alcohol addiction.
Providence Home is a place of hope and healing, offering a temporary home for men in life transition or recovery. It uses a holistic approach, rooted in the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for radical life change. The organization doesn't just feed and shelter men on the brink but helps men renew their mind, body, and spirit, seek reconciliation with family, friends, and neighbors, and reintegrate fully into society.
Mike Byars is the program director at Providence House, and he leads men through the different offerings at the transitional housing center. Some need help finding jobs. Others need help to avoid falling into the pit of alcoholism again.
Not long ago, Byars was one of the men at Providence House who battled the bottle himself.
"I had a lot of loss in my life, and I allowed grief to take over. Grief became anger, and anger caused me to start isolating myself from the people I cared about," Byars said. "That isolation led to alcohol abuse, and alcohol consumed my life."
Alcohol also took away the good career Byars had, his family, his home, his car and his hope.
"I made the choices. I came to Providence House after friends I made at First Baptist in Lexington told me about it. I began putting pieces of my life back together," he said.
"In recovery, I committed my life to the Lord. I repented from the things in my life that held me back, and the Lord just started blessing me. I don't have enough time to tell you all the ways, but I've got my own place now, I have a car, and I have things I didn't have before."
Regardless of the pain, addiction, and difficulty that may be in their past, The Providence House mission is helping men to refocus their lives with a fresh sense of direction and purpose.
Rob Settle, Providence House executive director and pastor, said what makes Providence House so different from other programs is its Christ-centered, live-in ministry that offers job assistance and work opportunities.
The programs all focus on helping men experience transformed lives through the power of Jesus Christ.
Residents are not only provided basic needs like three meals a day, a safe place to live, room, clothing, and laundry services, they also receive holistic services.
"I have guys that have come here who find victory through Christ. Families have been restored. Because of their background, they have become estranged from their family because of their choices," said Settle. "Our vision is that true victory comes from a relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and we minister to them spiritually, physically, and on every part of the man's life that they need, including helping them get stable financially."
Pre-COVID, every resident attended chapel five times a week (three during the pandemic), counseling, mentorship, and group Bible studies. They also participate in a jobs program, receive discounted medical care and learn budgeting and financial responsibility.
Currently housing 45 men and expanding to 60 men with a new dorm, Providence Home creates a structured, supportive and safe environment. Residents are expected to secure employment and to contribute $100 each week, plus assist with cleaning tasks in the common spaces.
"Currently, we are located on one contiguous campus here at 3421 North Main, and we have a duplex, a house, a dining hall and three dormitories," said Adele Little, development director. "We are also building a new chapel. Our mentoring program started in January, and our jobs program is already in place. We have a list of 15 employers we work with so far and growing. We also work with Fast Forward which helps our men build resumes and get connected to employers."
Fast Forward also helps provide men with clothing and equipment they may need for a job, like hardhats or work boots.
A HUMBLE BEGINNING TO A BRIGHT FUTURE
Providence House started humbly enough in 1963 by Johnny Zenoni, a reformed alcoholic who was arrested and woke up in jail for driving under the influence. Zenoni joined Alcoholics Anonymous and made it his life’s mission to help men like himself get back on their feet and transform their lives through the power of Jesus Christ.
He took eight alcoholic men at his own expense to a farm in Lexington County. Over the years, Providence Home grew to include a chapel, community outreach program, counseling, and ministry to women by 1971. By the mid-1980’s, Providence Home moved to North Main Street, with shelters for both men and women. In June 1991, Providence Home became two legally separated entities. The men’s side retained the name Providence Home and the women’s home became The Women’s Shelter.
Today, Providence Home relies on volunteers and support from the community to continue their mission.
"We are raising awareness and connecting with people who want to volunteer, donate their time or finances to help," said Little.
With COVID created higher rates of despair and substance abuse, the ministry at Providence House is needed more than ever. For more information on how to get involved or how to apply, visit providencehomecolumbia.org
For more information contact Adele Little at 803.779.2927 or firstname.lastname@example.org