By Tom Maguire
Grady’s Way will soon be more than just one man’s philosophy of benevolence in Utica.
Grady Faulkner helps troubled students. And in about 18 months, the Grady’s Way emergency shelter for homeless boys ages 12 to 18 is scheduled to open in a three-story red-brick building on Genesee Street.
“I’m so happy. … I’m excited,” Faulkner said May 25 at a news conference for the project. About 40 people gathered in front of the 5,138-square-foot building, which dates to the late 1800s.
The shelter is a project of Catholic Charities of Oneida/Madison Counties, which has owned the building at 1404 Genesee St. for a number of years. Renovations are estimated at $1.2 million.
Denise L. Cavanaugh, executive director of Catholic Charities, said Grady’s Way will have 11-13 beds, and boys will stay there for 30-90 days. Programming will include life-skills development and tutoring, if necessary. Youths will be self-referred, or they will be referred by their school, their family, or the county.
According to Catholic Charities’ written summary of the shelter plan, the facility will “respond to the needs of youth in crisis, including food, clothing, emergency shelter, treatment, referrals, and long term planning.”
It will also “help youth to safely discharge from the program and achieve stable living arrangements by reuniting them with their family or connecting them to alternative living arrangements.”
The problem of homeless children in Utica has been bothering Faulkner, a parent liaison for the school district, for at least six years. About one year ago, Faulkner and Steve Darman, Mohawk Valley Housing & Homeless Coalition chairman, approached Catholic Charities to consider taking on the project.
Executive Director Cavanaugh thought it was a great idea. She explained why in her speech on the wide stone Romanesque Revival front porch of the future shelter:
“I’m going to make a big assumption here that all of you had a good night’s sleep last night. … I’m going to guess that you had a bed, you had a pillow, you had a blanket, roof over your head, maybe a fan on, an air conditioner, refrigerator where you could grab a snack.
“Well, the youth in our area, some youth, right here, in our city, in our county, didn’t have that luxury last night. Can you imagine going to school, and your focus being, Where am I going tonight? How do you study? How do you take a test? How do you learn, when you don’t know where you’re going to go?