Facility to help homeless in the works near Milford

God’s Way Thrift Store Warehouse Associate Joe Catania arranges furniture for sale. (Special to the Delaware State News/Ariane Mueller)

MILFORD — Roger Wood already runs a moving business and a chain of thrift stores, but now he plans to add a “restoration center” for homeless people struggling with addiction as well.

Mr. Wood’s ideas for the center are not set in stone, but he’s ready to start working with the community on the project via an upcoming public meeting.

God’s Way Thrift Store Warehouse Associate Joe Catania stocks clothes at the God’s Way Thrift Store on Maple Avenue in Milford.

“Everyone can show up, even if you’ve had no experience in this, but you have a heart for this type of work,” he said.

The meeting will be at 6:30 p.m. on Sept. 21 at God’s Way’s headquarters at 1 N. Maple Ave. in Milford.

“I’m basically just putting this out there to see what kind of interest we have from the public,” Mr. Wood said. “I’m just going to share my vision.”

Mr. Wood and his wife Carrie moved to Milford from Pittsburgh in 1995 to care for Mr. Wood’s aging parents.

That year, the couple began God’s Way Ministries with one weekly recovery meeting. Soon, that became five weekly meetings.

Eventually, the organization expanded to include a chain of thrift stores and a recovery house for wayward men. Over the course of 13 years, Mr. Wood said the home gave beds and support to over 750 struggling men.

He sold the recovery house six years ago, but now he wants to start a similar program up again.

“For the past couple years, it’s been stirring up in me again,” Mr. Wood said. “I want to help people get their lives back.”

But Mr. Wood never stopped helping people. One person who was lucky to cross Mr. Wood’s path in recent years is Joseph Catania, a Philadelphia native who first came to Delaware 13 years ago.

Joe Catania, God’s Way Thrift Store Warehouse Associate, sorts new items.

“About three-and-a-half years ago, I attended a men’s Bible study here at God’s Way,” Mr. Catania said. “Roger was speaking that day.”

After the meeting was over, Mr. Catania struck up a conversation with Mr. Wood who hired him at his thrift store in Milford in August 2016.

But in 2018, Mr. Catania had what he called “a setback.” He was arrested on drug charges and spent six months in jail.

“God’s Way held my job,” Mr. Catania said, and “(They) provided everything I needed while I was incarcerated as far as hygiene stuff.”

Now, Mr. Catania is back at work. In addition to the Bible study he leads on Friday nights, he also attends one at 6 a.m. every Wednesday and goes to church every Sunday.

Mr. Catania said his job at God’s Way has been an enormous part of his recovery.

“An idle mind is the devil’s workshop,” Mr. Catania said.

Although he hasn’t bought it yet, Mr. Wood said he has his eyes on a piece of land between Ellendale and Milford and already has blueprints drawn up for a new facility.

Although Mr. Wood said the facility’s initial focus will again be on men in tough places, he hopes to expand the program to anyone in need of help in the future.

“The plan is to start out with maybe a five-bed center to start integrating these individuals not only back into the workplace, but into a healthy state of mind where they’re able to function in society,” Mr. Catania said.

“We’ll take a man in, help him out — if they’re physically not in good shape yet help him out with that,” Mr. Wood said. “Then, we’ll find out what kind of work they like to do.”

Then, he said, the goal is help these men find jobs.

“It’s not a shelter,” Mr. Wood said of his idea. “It’s going to be a work program, basically… My goal is to help these people become citizens”

He wants those he helps to become “working class people,” who can “hold down a job and get their life in order.”

Mr. Wood said his program will not be for everyone and stressed that his project will not be a traditional homeless shelter.

“We’ll help you if you’re in the cold. But if you don’t want the help we’re going to give you, you’re going to have to find another place to go,” he said.