A ministry of the Sisters of Mercy providing hope, healing, and a home for persons living with HIV.

  • Tracy Glover

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a bridge as “a structure carrying a path across an obstacle.” The House of Mercy Bridge program hopes to satisfy this definition by acting as that structure, assisting people living with HIV in overcoming obstacles creating barriers to stable housing, quality healthcare, and access to benefits and necessary services.

These people, until they become very ill, are often invisible to the system. This “invisible population” usually comes to us in a crisis situation, in need of urgent assistance to mitigate that crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic is currently exacerbating this problem, due to lack of employment or income, and creating increased need for resources for food, transportation, and access to healthcare.

The Bridge Program at House of Mercy provides support for clients to handle these immediate needs. By meeting an essential need and establishing a relationship that can offer other resources in the community, we aspire to empower the invisible population with the means to live their best life.

With the support of funding from the NC Healthcare Foundation and AIDS United, the Bridge program has so far helped several clients with groceries, gas, and utility bills. Here are some stories to show how the Bridge Program has impacted the lives of people living with HIV.

One client was working prior to the COVID pandemic at a restaurant. She got sick and was hospitalized. Once she was discharged from the hospital, her job at the restaurant had been eliminated due to the pandemic. She was living with others trying to determine her next steps when she was given information regarding the Bridge Program. I contacted the client and found she was receiving unemployment and had filed for Medicaid and found a place to rent. She expressed her needs were groceries and gas to go to job interviews. She now has a new job, and the gas and groceries got her through until her first paycheck from her new job.

Another client suffered a loss of employment due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a single mother, her income was $9 per hour while working Monday through Sunday from 8:00am to 2:30pm. She explained that her employment was the only source of income for her and her son. Additionally, she has become sick, further hindering her ability to seek out new employment. She had been able to meet her basic needs with the help of her neighbors and community resources, and the $200 in groceries from the Bridge Program will give her a bit more breathing room as she continues her search for a new job.

We plan to stay in contact periodically with all Bridge clients to offer support and resources to help meet any long-term goals and provide stability in their day to day lives. Through our Bridge Program, House of Mercy will be the path across urgent obstacles, and continue to provide hope, healing, and a home for people living with HIV in our community.

15 views0 comments
  • House of Mercy

Author: Emily Chambers Sharpe

For the one who came, sick and frail and near what seemed to be the end, who makes us laugh with spunk and a feisty spirit all these years later. Mercy looks like a miracle.

For the one who has recently arrived, who is not ready to share in group activities or meals just yet. Mercy looks like the space to be quiet and rest.

For the one who wishes to be at home with loved ones, and who feels the pain of friends and family who are far away and who may not understand the struggle in your body. Mercy looks like the staff and volunteers who listen when you tell your story.

For the one who heard good news at one specialist’s office and less good news at another, who still smiles most of the time. Mercy looks like the peace in your eyes.

For the one who recently moved back in with family, who healed from the threats. Mercy looks like a fresh start.

For the one who now had no source of income, who realized that the care House of Mercy provides is available for even you. Mercy looks like a gift.

For the one who passed away, surrounded by family and friends. Mercy looks like homecoming.

For the one who is young and reeling from a new diagnosis, who needed this place to heal and to connect with many people who care. Mercy looks like being surrounded by love.

For the one who loves Bible studies and TV preachers, who spent a year working on goals for nutrition and mobility that make daily life a bit easier. Mercy looks like determination.


Often we share ways that we give mercy. We are the House of Mercy, after all. This Thanksgiving, I am reminded that we receive mercy as well. In our residents, mercy shows up in their miracles, relief, stories, peace, acceptance of charity care, sense of home, discovery of love, and commitment to healing. As the staff met recently and recounted our blessings, I heard over and over again the ways that we receive mercy and respond with thanks.

May your Thanksgiving celebration include the space to reflect on mercy you have received and the gratitude that comes with it.

2 views0 comments

Author: Emily Chambers Sharpe

House of Mercy started a blog in December, quietly, offering people a worksheet to fill out with intentions. We want to continue to use this space to promote mediation and prayer that makes this world a better place. As we launch some new content, I started by pondering the first part of our mission statement:

House of Mercy’s mission is to give witness to the compassion and love of God to people living with HIV/AIDS while embracing the values of the sacredness of life, justice, human dignity, service, and integrity.

This blog, and our work, really is about giving witness, often to people who are marginalized. I want to invite you into our work of witnessing God’s compassion and love, through my take on a litany, below. I share stories that the staff and residents at House of Mercy experience, and after each story, offer a refrain of prayer starting with “We bear witness to the compassion and love of God…”

Join us as witnesses, in prayer, and in giving your resources or time.

We Bear Witness: A Litany on God’s Compassion and Love among People Living with HIV/AIDS

Sometimes the proof of love is in shared celebration. In July, our residents grilled out for July 4th, as many of you probably did, and enjoyed the local fireworks show. In the decades of House of Mercy’s existence, there were many years when residents were too ill for that kind of outing.

We bear witness to the compassion and love of God in the scientific advancements and corporate agreements that progressed medical treatment, extending life for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Sometimes we see the compassion of God in a doctor’s office. In a recent doctor’s office visit, a doctor informed a resident that the best treatment option is palliative care. Shirley, our Director of Nursing, helped the resident understand what this means. Later, the doctor took a moment to thank Shirley for the tender compassion and high-quality care she provides for this resident.

We bear witness to the compassion and love of God when medicine and science do not have a cure, serving the sick with dignity and hope.

Sometimes we see the love of God in creation. One resident grows tomatoes and peppers near the house, nurturing each plant and enjoying the harvest with meals or snacks. This resident eyes the bird feeders to be sure they are never empty. To this resident, life in creation is sacred.

We bear witness to the compassion and love of God as our residents embrace the value of sacred life, giving us an example to follow.

Sometimes we recognize compassion in civil authorities. This month, we heard positive progress after months of no word at all from the Social Security Administration that one of our former charity care residents received benefits. This resident had no form of identification and Shirley spent many days working with authorities across several states to track down documents. The two made many visits to government offices and sat for hours in crowded waiting areas. For this resident with more than one chronic condition, Social Security benefits will provide a steady source of income for the first time in his life.

We bear witness to the compassion and love of God in the provision of programs that are a safety net to those in need, administering justice that looks a lot like mercy.

Sometimes we see love in the long lives of people living with HIV. In our spring newsletter, we honored a long-term survivor of HIV, Mel Tomlinson, who passed away in February from an unrelated illness after decades of living well with HIV. In June, we celebrated HIV long term survivors’ day and recognized the aging population living with HIV, including a few of our residents.

We bear witness to the compassion and love of God in extending the lives of people living with HIV/AIDS, showing us the miracle of healing in our day.

Sometimes the darkness of the HIV epidemic has threatened or frightened humankind. Through many difficult moments, House of Mercy staff shepherd souls from this life into the next. In the HIV epidemic as a whole, there are long battles between the best and worst of humanity. The best of humanity keeps rising up with compassionate care, rejection of stigma and discrimination, innovative science, supportive policies, and so much more. House of Mercy is the Sisters of Mercy’s continued offering from this best part of who we are.

We bear witness that, in spite of the darkness, the light shines, giving reason for hope.

We bear witness to the compassion and love of God to people living with HIV/AIDS, and because of that great love, we embrace life, justice, service, and dignity for all people. 

6 views0 comments