Danny's Story   

Coping with crisis is a skill often honed by Genesis House guests during their stay. Life's traumas and tragedies come unhidden and often the only means of survival is courage. Such is the story of Danny and his mother, Daisy.

Danny and his mother came to Genesis House after a series of traumatic events. In the early pre-dawn hours, a fire swept through the family home. Danny almost lost his life in the fire that left his family homeless. The 18-year-old Olean High School senior suffered severe burns over his arms, legs, and chest in the inferno. Danny spent several months at the Erie County Medical Center in Buffalo, undergoing 27 separate surgeries as doctors and rehabilitation specialists labored to restore his body.

During his stay at the hospital, his mother traveled back and forth from Olean to Buffalo to care for both Danny and his ailing father, a diabetic who lost his legs to the disease in 1999. The toll of these stressors affected the entire family as their youngest son, Donald, began rebelling at the upheaval, causing discipline problems at school and for his temporary caretakers.

In the midst of these phenomenal nurturing tasks, Daisy lost her husband to his disease. Danny, still in the hospital undergoing a painful path to recovery, was inconsolable. Through it all Daisy remained vigilant.

Daisy and Danny left the hospital and entered Genesis House. During their stay, Danny continued his rehabilitation treatment and was tutored in his school work. "When Danny first came to Genesis House he couldn't walk, stand straight, and didn't have much to say," recalls Dan Carr, "however by the time he left us he was talking non-stop and kidding with us as he stood straight and walked with a cane. He got stronger each day and worked well with the rehab treatment and tutor. He's quite a kid."

Danny wants to be an auto mechanic and plans to enter classes in the area BOCES program to complete his degree.

Mr. Carr is also proud of the progress Daisy had made in coping with her new lifestyle as a widow and single mother of two. Thanks to the loving and caring atmosphere provided by the staff at the Genesis House, Daisy has found the courage to go on. She has made plans to enter into nursing school and obtain a career in the field.  Daisy has great gratitude for the haven of hope, help, and guidance she found at Genesis House. "They're wonderful," she managed tearfully.

Why I Volunteer…
By Jamie Hearn
When Muriel first asked me to write a little note why I volunteer at Genesis House, I thought it would be easy enough, but when I sat down to actually do it I found myself at a loss for words. How do I verbalize the feelings and reasons when each time I cross the threshold it changes?
My first interaction with Genesis House came as a high school freshman at Olean High. A senior, Pierre Eade, was organizing a new fundraiser of sorts to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless: Homeless Huskies. For me, it was a chance to sleep outside with my friends and probably far from what most men and women without shelter actually face. It was fun and I continued for my four years of high school to sleep in the elements for one night a year, but I had never seen Genesis House or really understood what it meant. Homelessness was not something I could grasp living in Olean.
Fast forward eight years and I again find myself “working” for the house but this time as a social work graduate student. My awareness has changed and it is a mix of civic duty, pride, empathy, and even fun that keeps me coming back, regardless of how crazy my schedule sometimes is. Sometimes I can spend hours at the house doing little things and other times the best I can do is a quick phone call to answer a social service question. My function changes depending on the families under the roof but each time I am affecting the life of someone just with human interaction— and that energy is addicting!
I guess I could say I volunteer at Genesis House because I can be and do anything, small or large, and know that my efforts have a positive impact on families and our community. It’s just a nice feeling and a wonderful house. I would urge anyone to stop in and see it for themselves. I’m sure Linore and Muriel could find something for you to do!