The strength of Sojourner House lies in recognizing and cultivating the strength within each person to overcome the barriers in their lives. This strength requires a strong core. These are the core values we embrace and teach:
Community: we all belong and can contribute to a caring whole.
Hope: every person can make positive life choices and changes.
Dignity: each person deserves respect as a unique individual.
Resilience: no matter what obstacles you experience, you can overcome them.
Courage: everyone can face their fears and make positive choices and changes.
Self-determination: ultimately, each person determines the best path(s) for herself.
Sojourner House at PathStone and PathStone Corporation Partnership Vision:
Sojourner House at PathStone is a visionary, sustainable partnership that provides a transformative experience for individuals and families so they obtain self-sufficiency with dignity and pride within safe and affordable housing communities.
Sojourner House was named in honor of Sojourner Truth, a traveling orator, a woman who spoke truth to power, a person on a mission for change. Born a slave in Upstate New York, Sojourner Truth declared her freedom and her name. She journeyed throughout the country as a passionate abolitionist and advocate for the rights of women and blacks. Sojourner Truth brought inspiration, hope, and a call for justice to all who heard her voice.
In 1981, in response to an increasing community need for housing for homeless women and their children, advocates Nancy Watson Dean and her daughter-in-law, Virginia Fairchild, organized a group of their activist friends. The group raised money, leased and refurbished a building on East Main Street and the Sojourner Hall for Women, Inc. opened its doors in 1982. A few years later, a fire set by a resident’s abuser destroyed the interior of the building. The tragedy disrupted the program and provided an opportunity to find a new home for Sojourner House.
Dedicated board members managed to raise the capital funds needed to renovate an idle building in Rochester’s 19th Ward. In 1989, Sojourner House officially reopened its doors in the former convent of St. Monica’s Church—a move that nearly tripled the number of women and children who could be served in its Transitional Housing Program.
Sojourner House became a pioneer of supportive housing for women and children, with the opening of Monica Place, Fairchild Place and Nancy Watson Dean Place. Together, these facilities provide 40 units of permanent, affordable housing for women and their children, who benefit from on-site case management and support services. The establishment of these services at Greece Commons expanded our outreach beyond the City of Rochester.
In 1996, Virginia Fairchild tragically passed away from cancer. As president of the Board, Ginny Cornyn kept the organization running smoothly and led the search for a new President, soon finding Germaine Knapp to take the helm. Under Germaine’s vision and direction, Sojourner House and its programs have strengthened and expanded, most notably in the areas of supportive housing, outreach case management for graduates, children’s programming, and life skills education.
Last year, Sojourner House affiliated with PathStone Corporation, which manages low-income apartments. The two organizations came together to bring the Sojourner House model of supportive resident services to PathStone’s affordable housing projects. This affiliation will provide families with safe, decent, and affordable housing as well as the support services they need to transition to economic self-sufficiency.
Since 1982, Sojourner House has assisted over 2,000 women and their families in reaching their goals concerning education, employment, family stability, sobriety, and financial independence.
1982 – Sojourner House opens at original site on East Main Street with space for five women
1987 – Firebomb destroys building, interrupting the program
1989 – Sojourner House re-opens in renovated convent in 19th Ward, with space for 16 women and up to 20 children
1991 – Monica Place opens, offering 21 units of supportive housing that are among the first in New York State
1996-97 – Executive Director and co-founder Virginia Fairchild passes away; Germaine Knapp chosen to lead the organization
1997 – First Epiphany Award recognizing an outstanding graduate is given to Wanda Chealey, beginning an annual tradition that continues today
1998 – Fairchild Endowment Fund is established to strengthen organization’s financial future
1999 – Fairchild Place opens, offering 12 additional units of supportive housing
1999 – Briggs Outreach Program begins, providing ongoing case management to Sojourner House graduates
2000 – Dreamseeds program is established to provide tutoring, homework help, arts and cultural opportunities for the children of Sojourner House women
2001 – Nancy Watson Dean Place opens, offering seven additional units of supportive housing
2003 – Henrietta Hammond Institute for Life Skills (HHILS) is established, a comprehensive life skills program for women in transitional housing
2005 – Sojourner House receives Project of the Year Award from Supportive Housing Network of New York for excellence in supportive housing
2007 – Partnership with Tempro Development Corporation establishes case management and supportive services for Holyoke Apartments (now Greece Commons) and Susan B. Anthony Apartments
2009 – Affiliation with PathStone Corporation leads to renaming of organization as Sojourner House at PathStone, Inc.
2010 – Community and resident services extend to several Tempro Emergency Housing sites and other low-income properties owned by PathStone. Supportive and life skills programs expand as well.