A home in Pontiac is pictured after being renovated. Grace Centers of Hope, a nonprofit located in Pontiac, helps individuals who have overcome drug addiction move into renovated homes.

A home in Pontiac is pictured after being renovated. Grace Centers of Hope, a nonprofit located in Pontiac, helps individuals who have overcome drug addiction move into renovated homes.

Photo provided by Matt Myftiu

West Bloomfield resident helps cover costs for 5 men to move into a renovated house

By: Mark Vest | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published December 20, 2022

 The home is pictured prior to being renovated.

The home is pictured prior to being renovated.

Photo provided by Matt Myftiu

WEST BLOOMFIELD — Although Christmas hasn’t arrived yet this year, West Bloomfield resident Mary Beth Castorri has already given what is likely to be her best gift of the year.

Castorri played a role in helping five men get a new lease on life as they moved into a home that was purchased and renovated in Pontiac.

The home was purchased through a program offered by Grace Centers of Hope, which is a nonprofit in Pontiac that offers long-term, faith-based programs for people affected by homelessness and by chemical dependency and abuse in southeast Michigan.

Programs are offered for men, women and children who are seeking shelter and “healing for their souls.”

Grace Centers of Hope has a one-year life-skills program, which is followed by a two-year after-care program.

Food, shelter, counseling, life skills courses and a career and education center are part of the life-skills program.

The five men moved into the home as part of Grace Centers of Hope’s after-care program.

Castorri, who was a film producer in advertising before retiring more than five years ago, said that she covered most of the renovation costs of the home.

According to a press release, the home underwent $250,000 in renovations.

The release states that the home the men moved into was the 54th home renovation by the nonprofit “in its growing Little Grace Village community.”

“For more than a decade, GCH has been working to turn Pontiac neighborhoods once known for crime and drugs into family-friendly areas that are home to a faith-based community,” the release states. “Many of the homes have been sold directly to GCH graduates, as part of its Homelessness to Home Ownership program. In this instance, the men will pay rent at the home.”

The home was built between 1904 and 1908 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. It has five bedrooms, two full bathrooms, and 2,350 square feet of space, according to the release.

It took nearly a year to complete the project.

There was a ribbon-cutting ceremony to unveil the renovated home Sept. 30.

Castorri was on-hand for the ceremony.

“It’s a beautiful, beautiful house,” she said. “And once I see their faces — they’re moving in, and how much it means to them — it makes it all worth it to me. … These guys haven’t had much of a life, and they’ve straightened their lives out and made something of themselves. They have jobs, and they have some families. They’re hard-working guys, and I’m pleased to do it for them.”

Grace Centers of Hope CEO Kent W. Clark, who is also the pastor at Grace Gospel Fellowship Church in Pontiac, shared part of the five men’s story.

“Every one of the five men moving into this beautiful, historic Pontiac home has waged a long battle of recovery and are now able to fully integrate back into society,” Clark stated in the release.

Clark went on to state that the men have become contributing members of society and that GCH “will continue to support them through our large faith-based community here in Little Grace Village.”

Castorri also previously helped pay renovation costs for five women to move into a renovated home on the same street as the home the men moved into.

Her assistance went beyond helping to cover costs.

“I had the same involvement as I did in the women’s house,” Castorri said. “I picked paint colors, decor — approved everything — kitchen cabinets all the way down to the kitchen counters. … We worked on it for about a year, so it was a labor of love. … It’s stunning.”

Castorri discussed being part of a process that can help dramatically change lives.

“I believe that as I’m doing it, but it doesn’t really come to fruition until it’s done and I see the faces of these guys that are so grateful, and they tell me how grateful they are; their families tell me how grateful they are,” she said. “So then I go, ‘Wow, yeah. That’s right. This was really worth it.’”

Getting to see the reactions of the men when they saw their new home was one of the favorite parts of the process for Castorri.

“It was thrilling,” she said. “All the hard work and shopping, whatever it is I had to do, makes it all worth it to see their faces when they got the keys. And then I saw them … two months later, and they’re beaming; they’re still beaming and so happy. … Lot of these people never had their own bedrooms. … It’s very rewarding that way.”

Mark is one of the five men who moved into the home.

“I’ll forever be grateful to Grace Centers of Hope and Grace Gospel Fellowship Church for giving me the tools and support to develop my obedience and relationship with the Lord (through) the Gospel,” he stated via the release. “Furthermore, I am very excited to be moving into the newly renovated home … and continuing my recovery in the Aftercare program.”

Work completed on the home included relocating the kitchen and bathroom on the first floor, installing a new rear porch, refurbishing the wraparound porch, replacing most of the windows, refabricating the rear staircase and trim throughout the house, plumbing and electrical upgrades, resanding and finishing the home’s “110-year-old flooring,” installing all new siding, replacing the gutters, installing a new ventilation and heating/cooling system and water heater, and repouring the driveway.

All of the renovation work on the house was done by GCH program graduates, with donations of materials coming from Lowe’s, Earth Art Landscaping of Clarkston, Gutherie Lumber, Muscat Brothers Concrete, Brightview Landscaping, Elite Plumbing and Heating, Ellis Construction and Waug’s Electric Service, according to the release.

Volunteers from GCH also assisted with landscaping work and other projects as part of the renovations.

In a previous interview with the Beacon, Clark said that having a full-time job and at least $1,200 in savings is a requirement to be eligible to move into a home.

Those who live at Grace Centers of Hope are tested for drug and alcohol use “regularly” and must show themselves to be drug-free to be part of the nonprofit’s programs.

“It’s a great program offered by Grace Centers to get people back on their feet — back living a good life,” said Castorri, who also assists the Sky Foundation, a nonprofit that helps fund research for the early detection and treatment of pancreatic cancer. “It’s unbelievable what it does for them. … They really help the people.”

Castorri’s volunteer efforts have resulted in a return on her investment.

“It’s a great feeling to help people in need, as opposed to just seeing them on the street homeless,” she said. “Gotta take care of our own. … Anybody that wants to volunteer to help, I’d be happy to mentor them, and they can help me haul stuff around.”

According to the release, Grace Centers of Hope provides transitional shelter to 150-200 men, women and children, in addition to serving more than 125,000 meals each year.

To learn more or make a donation, visit www.gracecentersofhope.org.