THE BIG OLD WAREHOUSE that houses Jericho Partnership in Danbury was once a furniture showroom. It’s renovated now, but its maze of rooms still feels like a showroom for the ministries at work there.
Walk into the lobby of the Jericho building and hang a left. Through the door is a waiting room for Samaritan Health Center, a pediatric clinic for the uninsured where a Spanish-speaking mom is cradling a baby. Toys and books are scattered around, along with newspapers in Spanish. In 2016, about 2,000 uninsured children received healthcare through the clinic.
Around the corner is Hopeline, a pregnancy resource center for women with unexpected pregnancies. The center performed 566 ultrasounds in 2016 and estimates that it saved about 300 unborn lives.
Through another door are counseling services. Upstairs is the adoption agency Bethany Christian Services. Open another door: Pathways Academy is the Christian middle school serving 39 boys this year, almost all of whom are black or Hispanic.
Beware of your emotions if you walk directly from the pediatric clinic to the middle school, past Christian doctors caring for babies and into a language arts classroom full of seventh-graders earnestly taking a spelling test. A sign in the classroom carries the school’s tagline for the “men of honor” they are cultivating, spelled in the acrostic of “Christ”: Courteous & Respectful, Hopeful & Confident, Resourceful & Goal-Oriented, Inspired & Close to God, Sexually Pure, and Trusting in the Lord.
When the bell rang in the middle school, each boy filed out of Lakeema Moore’s language arts class and shook her hand. Down the hall, the head of the mentoring program, Horace Hough, was getting ready to take his high-school senior boys to the mall to buy suits for graduation.
Jericho hosts all of these ministries in its building rent-free, which is a big gift in an expensive city like Danbury. Downtown the organization also has a transitional home for homeless women and children, and a homeless shelter. Given the dizzying number of Jericho projects, the group posts its annual financial audits online for transparency.
Jericho’s specialness comes from hosting all of these ministries under one roof. Girls at the Hopeline pregnancy center who might need support can walk down a hallway to the teen mom ministry YoungLives. The Pathways Academy boys can get immunizations at the pediatric clinic, and counseling. Boys from the school have started going to Young Life (also in the showroom warehouse), and boys from Young Life have enrolled in the school.
Jericho President Carrie Amos says all of this overlapping builds “covenant” relationships. Next to the Jericho building is a liquor store. A mother of three boys in the Jericho programs was living in an apartment above the store. A few years ago she overdosed and died. Jericho paid for her funeral and stuck with the boys. The third boy is about to graduate high school.
“We want to help them understand that they can do all things through Christ who strengthens them,” said Rice, the math teacher and former Space Shuttle brainiac. He stood in the Pathways middle-school lobby between classes, wearing a letter jacket with a big “P” on it. Many of Jericho’s leaders, like Rice and Amos, are people of color like the children they are serving.
After school many of the academy boys walked a few doors down to the tutoring program, which was gearing up with about 50 students. Portraits of Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., and George Washington hung on the walls.
This tutoring program has classrooms dedicated to different subjects, with tutors specializing in particular subjects to help students with their work. The students rotate through the rooms depending on their work. When they finish, some play basketball on a dusty court out back with Kih and Robert Best. The Best brothers went through the program themselves when they were in middle school and high school, and now tutor.