Philadelphia shelter director empowers city's homeless population

PHILADELPHIA, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- "Everyone deserves compassion. Everyone deserves help," said Kharisma Goldston. "It's what inspires me to do better, to be better to constantly show up for those that are in the shelter because, legitimately, all they ever asked for is to be heard."

For half of a decade, Goldston has lent an ear and a helping hand to those facing homelessness as the Director of Shelter at "Our Brothers' Place." The quiet facility in Callowhill is a program of the Bethesda Project and the city of Philadelphia.

With 149 beds, it offers refuge for specifically males who are homeless or hungry. That number has been curtailed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Goldston's work ethic has not.

"Unfortunately, the way life works, people are becoming homeless far more easily," she said. "There's just limited housing. And our hope is, let's just help as many people as we actually can."

Goldston has continued to work mostly in-person to provide care during the pandemic. She helped to restructure sleeping layouts, acquire a donation of 50,000 masks, adjust to staff shortages, and aid guests in need of quarantining.

She also kept the shelter on track to deliver its regular services such as education, housing resources, job employment opportunities, and mental/physical healthcare.

Resident William McAllister said he learned to appreciate Goldston's good deeds.

"I felt as though nobody wanted to help me, so I didn't have no trust in nobody," said McAllister. "But I kind of trust her and she's helped me a great deal."

McAllister is hopeful that the program will open new doors for him.

"Once I get my apartment, I'll be able to go back to work, reunite with my family, so they know that I'm trying to better myself and they see the change in me," he said.

Goldston plans to continue offering services for residents like McAllister who are willing to seek help.

"My hope is that, when they leave here, they are in a better position than when they first came," she said.

To learn more about the Bethesda Project, visit their website.

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