Written by VolunteerMark contributor Anna Spady of anna.spadydesign.com
“She softly said, ‘I now have no home again.’ Those six little words, ‘I now have no home again,’ will forever echo in my mind.”
Those are the words of Mother’s Refuge executive director Robert Zornes, describing his memory of the fire that destroyed their community home the night of Oct. 8, 2012.
Mother’s Refuge is a nonprofit organization dedicated to giving young, single pregnant women a loving and supportive home. I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Mandy Taylor, the nonprofit’s volunteer coordinator, and what struck me most about her description of their organization is how everyone becomes “family.”
“Sometimes people act as if we enable bad girls,” Taylor said. “But really, these girls have had real issues. They’re at-risk, even been homeless. Many have never really even been parented. They just want someone to listen, love them and be there for them. It’s something most of them have never had.”
The organization is dedicated to unconditionally loving and supporting new mothers, while simultaneously preparing them for life on their own. Their cozy home is filled with up to nine young women and five babies at any given time and is intentionally longer-term than other similar programs — up to almost two years. That duration uniquely enables the staff to tailor their support to the individual needs of each woman and child.
Core values of the program include:
- Stability The linchpin of the nonprofit is a solid home base. According to Taylor, it’s oftentimes the “first real home the women have ever had.”
- Mentoring The staff’s goal is to give the ladies a personal example of how to lead a good life.They also invite members of the community to share in this mentorship.
- Education The program requires the women to further their education, pursuing either a GED, high school diplomaor college degree.
- Life Skills Money management, cooking and managing a home are just a few of the lessons taught.
- Resources When desired the staff helps facilitate adoptions, provide nursery equipment and baby clothes as well as host an after-care program for their graduates.
In their pasts, these women often faced homelessness. Like Zornes relayed, last year’s house fire forced them to face it again. Not all girls have been rejected by their families, but most have been living friend to friend or in at-risk environments all their lives.
That’s why so many have been laboring to restore the Mother’s Refuge house. Taylor reported that since the fire, there have been volunteers on site working every day towards rebuilding the structure. And they still need help.
The organization’s greatest current needs are help with manning its upcoming garage sale and transforming its once-ravished home into a more cozier one. They specifically need people willing to volunteer with construction, plumbing, sheetrock and cleanup. The goal is to move the families back in by midsummer of this year and be settled in by August. Follow them on Facebook for complete updates on the rebuild.
Lastly, Taylor makes a point of telling volunteers that if they don’t see an opportunity that appeals to them, just let her know what does. She has volunteers doing everything from gardening to training mentors to helping moms get set up for apartment life.
“Everyone has something to offer,” Taylor said.
What is your something?
For a list of current volunteer opportunities with Mother’s Refuge, visit the nonprofit’s VolunteerMark page and sign-up today.