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Letter: A house for healing our neighbors without homes

Join the Bob Tavani House for Medical Respite for a series of professionally facilitated community conversations over the next few weeks in which we’ll discuss how to continue serving the most vulnerable members of our community.

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The Twin Ports community is working hard to address homelessness but more needs to be done. Our neighbors without homes face countless daily challenges like exposure to extreme weather, unsanitary conditions and violence. Many get sick enough to need hospital care but lack a place to continue healing once discharged — the frequent result is a return trip to the hospital.

The Bob Tavani House for Medical Respite (BTH) is a part of the continuum of services for people experiencing homelessness who face this situation. The program opened in 2018 after the First Covenant Church donated its former parsonage for use as a medical respite. Since then, BTH has saved lives and generated cost savings for our community and its health systems.

Since opening, BTH has hosted more than 50 guests ranging in age from 22 to 70. Each guest is provided a room with a clean bed and family-style meals. Guests stay for as long as is necessary for them to heal, rest and get support to help them break free of the vicious cycle of homelessness. BTH staff have also assisted in finding permanent housing for more than half of their guests.

BTH was dreamed up by a Duluth Family Medicine Clinic resident and supported by organizations like Essentia Health, CHUM, Northland Foundation and Duluth Superior Area Community Foundation. The program has been sustained thanks to two volunteer site directors donating their time to live and work on-site. BTH remains a grassroots effort run on a shoestring budget with support from committed volunteers, in-kind support, grants and gifts.

Join us for a series of professionally facilitated community conversations over the next few weeks in which we’ll discuss how to continue serving the most vulnerable members of our community. Send a note with your name and email address to BTH_Charette@ahpnet.com.

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Anthony Olson,
BTH Board Chair

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