“I never could understand how some clients remained homeless for such long periods of time and never seemed to get off the streets. For many hours I contemplated how we, as an agency, could do more to address such a client base.”
While attending University of Louisville’s Kent School of Social Work, Tarullo explored these ideas while continuing to work as a practicum study at Ozanam Inn. He devoted his senior thesis project to developing an intervention that could “break the chains of long-term homelessness” at Ozanam’s overnight shelter. With the help of assistant director of programs, Cory Bledsoe, and Charles (“C.O.”) Orten, SVDP’s director of programs (who was a longtime program manager of Ozanam Inn), Tarullo developed a survey to assess our overnight shelter guests’ motivation to overcome homelessness, their willingness to change and their desire to live beyond a shelter.
Tarullo then launched a weekly group counseling session for these men. “Through the group intervention process clients were able to explore the deeper desires for their life, seek greater possibilities for their future, and address issues they may have been running from,” he says.
“Many men from the group moved into transitional programs, and one moved into permanent housing after attending the group sessions and dealing with some of his barriers. One client decided to seek further help after living homeless with a substance abuse problem for nearly 30 years.” Tarullo’s initiative was recognized by UofL’s Kent School with a first-place award as the best thesis, and last spring he was hired full time as a case manager at Ozanam Inn men’s shelter. Now he is putting into practice the vision that he outlined in that thesis.
“I am able to work intensively with clients in the overnight shelter until they get into one of our transitional or housing programs. Clients are able to walk in off the street and begin concentrated work with our agency,” he explains. “I believe that the shelter and its transitional programs are the heart of St. Vincent de Paul’s services.” Toward that end, Tarullo is continuing to work with Orten and Bledsoe to improve efficiency in the client services offered through the shelter’s overnight emergency and transitional programs.
“All clients who I work with are attending the Monday night counseling group, where they are addressing personal issues and problems. “My experience at St. Vincent de Paul has been inspiring,” Tarullo says. “To be a part of such renewal in the programs and in men’s lives has been a wonderful opportunity for me. I look forward to the challenges and successes we will have in the future. I hope to persist in the creation of transformative services to the men that walk through our door…
“Transformation—moving from one way of being to another— often means facing shadows of the past. The hurt and pain of the past can be healed. That healing comes from the heart—from emotionally authentic experiences of releasing judgments and forgiving.”
Unapologetically idealistic, Tarullo believes meaningful and lasting change can be achieved. “When enough of us believe in the vision and live our lives through our personal mission, we will create unconditional love as the reality of our universe! We can do this!”