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Providence Home Turns 60

Transitional Housing. Permanent Hope.

Article by Christy Cox, Development Director

Photography by Providence Home Columbia

Originally published in Lake Murray Lifestyle

In 1963, a raging alcoholic woke up in a City of Columbia jail. Arrested for drunk driving. Johnny Zenoni spent decades paying the price for the broken roads he traveled.

But that morning, Johnny’s direction changed. Forever.

Zenoni credits an encounter with Jesus in his jail cell for placing the brakes on his former life. He quit alcohol cold and made a vow to dedicate the rest of his days to serving addicts and those experiencing homelessness.
Providence Home was born that same year on a farm in Lexington County with eight men.

60 years later, Providence Home remains committed to Johnny’s mission and serving the men Johnny loved. Now located on a tidy, quiet campus about a mile from downtown Columbia, Providence Home remains a Christ-focused ministry serving 60 men, providing transitional housing, and promoting recovery from drugs, alcohol, and incarceration. Our greatest goal is to see men renewed and reunited with their families and communities. Our deepest desire is to see
men accept the life-saving grace of Jesus Christ.

Executive Director Rob Settle has been at the helm of significant change in his decade serving Providence Home. He says to see men “turning around their lives” and returning to loved ones whole and healthy is “incredibly exciting.” But he says, “the most exciting thing is when we see men placing their faith and trust in Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.”
Building a chapel where men in recovery can freely worship and enjoy a safe, clean, sacred place to pray, learn, and grow was a dream of Johnny’s. It seems so fitting that on the anniversary of Zenoni’s founding Providence Home, his dream is now a reality.

The William “Bill” Cogdill Memorial Chapel at Providence Home will be officially opened this April. Zenoni’s family, including his son John Jr., will be there representing Johnny and his legacy.

Columbia businessman Bob McAlister will be there, too. He was a close friend of Johnny’s. He says Providence Home is different because Johnny was different. “To be able to love people like Johnny loved people is not a natural thing,” McAlister notes. “It’s not natural to go under a bridge and talk to someone drunk or on drugs…and tell them there’s hope.”

Long after Johnny’s passing – hope remains. It is the link in the chain that binds us to the past and strengthens us for the future. It’s what Johnny Zenoni found in a jail cell, delivered under bridges, and established in a ministry still thriving 60 years later.

If you know someone who needs help or wants to help give hope, check us out at You are welcome to visit our campus at 3421 North Main Street, Columbia.