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We offer hope by providing life skills training. We offer help by providing transitional housing. We offer healing through Christian love and support. The goal of Mary Ellen's Hearth is for the families we serve to leave us within two years... their dignity and self respect restored... prepared for a life of independence
Hope can be defined as “a feeling of expectation”. Homelessness removes expectation and replaces it with urgency…to survive and make it through another day. At Mary Ellen’s Hearth, we help our residents begin to have hope again by providing opportunities for them to learn and develop the skills necessary to live a life of independence. We accomplish this through specific training for our residents in the areas of financial literacy, parenting skills, job skills and life skills.
The immediate need for anyone in a homeless situation is shelter. Mary Ellen’s Hearth has ten well-equipped independent living units to meet this immediate need for our residents. Our program is designed to help them make the transition into permanent housing within two years.
Mary Ellen’s Hearth is a Christian organization. While we accept people of all faiths, we help our residents through the healing process by surrounding them with Christian love and support. Each resident has a case worker that mentors them through the program, and various individuals and groups provide opportunities for worship and bible study.
RT moved among family members and friends for years before moving to Mary Ellen’s Hearth, where she and her son found a stable place to live. She spent a very brief period at an emergency shelter and described it as “unbearable.”
RT worked as a Certified Nurses’ Assistant for more than a decade and decided to pursue a degree to further her career in a field she enjoys.
“I want to say ‘I completed my Master’s,’” she said. Her accomplishments and work ethic seem to surprise her. “I don’t know how I’m doing it, but I am,” she said.
RT’s case manager praised her hard work, saying, “RT is an incredibly dedicated student. She has sought every opportunity for academic success including tutoring and individual mentorship from professors.”
RT is continuing her education over the next year and a half in order to receive a Master’s degree. She is also employed fulltime, where she works on the weekends and at night.
“I was just tired of going from house to house and place to place,” she said.
Her long-time dream is to open her own business – a center for women and men in the region who are survivors of domestic violence. RT and her son moved into their own place February 1, 2016.
“This was nothing new to me,” Glenda said.
When she and her son moved into Mary Ellen’s Hearth, it was not the first time they had been homeless. She was not surprised by the “house rules” at Mary Ellen’s Hearth, like abiding by a curfew and maintaining a clean bedroom. She said those things were “not a big deal” for her. Still, when she arrived Glenda was quiet and cautious. “I’m always quiet at first,” she said. “I have to get to know who is alright, who isn’t alright. I don’t share much in meetings. I don’t want all my feelings to come out.”
The first time Glenda became homeless was when she became seriously ill. She was hospitalized for weeks and lost her job as a result. Her situation is an all-too-common one in Montgomery, and she had to leave her apartment. Glenda fought alcoholism for decades and has been sober ever since coming to Mary Ellen’s Hearth. She chuckled softly about the dangerous ways that she once chose to spend her time. “I’ve had my days,” she acknowledged.
Her outlook on her future seems hard and matter-of-fact. Glenda knows there are people in her life that “aren’t alright,” and who she must avoid in order to stay sober and focused. Some of those people are family members. Many of her friends are homeless. “I’m living on my own,” she said quietly.
The small, apartment she moved into recently will give her and her son a safe and stable place, but her hopes are set on owning a home. She pays her rent entirely with the income she earns through her full-time job, which she has maintained for more than seven months. With skills in budgeting, decision making, problem solving and parenting, homelessness is behind her for good.
Mary Ellen’s Hearth was there for this resident and her family at the lowest point in their lives. According to her, “I can honestly say that, if not for Mary Ellen’s Hearth, I don’t know where I would be. And I don’t know what would have happened to my son. All I know is that Mary Ellen’s Hearth was there to give me and my son our second chance, and for that I will be forever grateful.”
Mary Ellen’s Hearth is a private 501(c)3 non profit organization. Donations are tax deductible. We are privately funded and rely almost completely on the generosity of churches, businesses and individuals in the River Region. Because we are a Christian ministry, we are not eligible for many types of government grants. We are a United Way agency so you can rest assured your money is spent wisely to provide needed services to our families.DONATE TODAY
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