Philanthropist Provides Homes for the Homeless

24 June, 2015

Each day, thousands of people with mental illness are living on the streets of cities and towns across America. The U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development says one-fifth of the 610,000 homeless across the country suffer from a mental illness. Doris Buffett is the sister of investor and billionaire Warren Buffett. She has donated one million dollars through a non-profit organization to house homeless people with mental illness.

Doris Buffett is a philanthropist, a wealthy person who gives money to help make life better for other people. She lives in the small town of Fredericksburg, Virginia. Her recent gift of one million dollars went to a local non-profit called Micah Ecumenical Ministries. She says she is happy to help homeless people with mental illness find new homes.

"I'm overwhelmingly happy that due to my brother's brilliance, and he's had good luck, we've all got good luck, that I can do what my heart wants me to do. And this is it, I'm determined to give away my money before I die."

Vickie Chevrette and her brother Jerry Grimsley were among 20 people to receive homes as part of this effort. They still remember that cold January day, when they packed up their tents and stepped into a real house for the first time in three years.

"I couldn't believe it. It was wonderful. It was warm. It was solid."

"Warm. Well, we didn't have to worry about the snow no more, or the rains, because we used to get flooded, we had to go buy a pump to pump water out from our tent sections."

Meghan Cotter is the Director of Micah Ministries. She organized the purchase of seven so-called "Buffett Houses." To live in one, she says, residents must pay 300 dollars rent per month per room, or do volunteer work to make up for the part of rent they cannot pay.

"We are not just putting people into housing and providing support services, we are actually giving them reasons to get up in the morning, and come and be a part of something. And a lot of them really have a lot of value in that."

Vickie Chevrette's receives disability payments from the government. It pays for the rent for their home. The home provides her with privacy and comfort. Since moving into the house, Vickie Chevrette has been mentally stable. She now can remember to take her medicine instead of worrying about where to take a bath. And she loves her kitchen, with its granite countertop, and new appliances.

"Everybody that comes into this kitchen says they want it."

Although his back injury makes it hard for Jerry Grimsley to do any housework, he tries to mow the lawn and plant flowers in the back yard.

"Just to show we have pride in the place, and we are trying to take care of it. And show Ms. Buffett that we are really thankful that she gave us this opportunity. "

Doris Buffett's contributions have helped Micah Ministries cut the number of homeless in the city by 58 percent over the last five years. The philanthropist says she is extremely happy with this project, and plans to donate even more money in the future.

I'm Marsha James.

Lin Yang and Enming Liu reported this story from Fredericksburg,VA. Marsha James adapted it for Learning English. Mario Ritter was the editor.


Words in This Story

philanthropist – n. a wealthy person who gives money and time to help make life better for other people

non-profit – adj. not existing or done for the purpose of making money

brilliant – adj. extremely intelligent or successful

disability - n. a condition (such as an illness or injury) that damages or limits a person's physical or mental abilities