Last winter it seemed like the cold and snow would go on forever. Staff at Samaritan House were very busy as more women visited the shelter than in previous years. Lindsey, one of the Support Workers at Samaritan House, told her daughter Ava about how crowded it was, and how her heart went out to the women who were spending Christmas at the shelter.
Ava, who was 11, decided she would help. She used her birthday money to buy an assortment of chocolates and candies which she put in gift bags to give to the women for Christmas.
Ava also included inspirational quotes with the gifts. Quotes she thought would encourage and uplift the recipients. Many women who received one of Ava’s gifts were filled with emotion. Some of them had daughters of their own, and many saw in the gift something more than generosity, they saw a glimmer of hope in a dark season of their life.
Even in the middle of the summer when the sun fills the town with warm light the numbers of women seeking shelter casts a dark shadow. In July 531 beds were used by 41 different women. August had even higher numbers with 557 regular beds and 123 overflow beds in use for an occupancy rate of 128%!
During August women were turned away 110 times because there just wasn’t any more room. 37 of those times were women who had never been to the shelter before. There were 2 nights where children accompanied their moms, and 1 of those nights was a family. Debbie, the shelter’s Data Clerk said, “We had 54 different women stay here in August. I don’t think I’ve ever seen that many here in a month!”
Women Need More Beds
Samarah, another Support Worker at Samaritan House, says, “We need way more shelter beds. So many of these women are escaping abusive relationships, have children and are so vulnerable, we cannot have them out on the streets.” Samarah reported that on Monday, August 28th, “we had 14 shelter beds full, 6 on overflow mats; and on top of that, there were 11 women turned away.”
Ava’s generosity and bright smile are a welcome sign that her generation will carry on the tradition of caring that her mom and others are doing so well. We can’t let this dark reality continue, we must not keep turning vulnerable women away because there is no room.
Will you follow Ava’s example by providing a tangible gift? Visit the More Room for Hope page to learn more about what we are doing to respond to this dire need in our community and how you can help.