Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Nonprofit Helps Single Mothers

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Nonprofit Helps Single Mothers

Article excerpt

For more than 25 years, the mission at Our Mother's House has been to provide a safe haven and a nurturing environment for mothers and their babies. The nonprofit traditionally maintains a six-month to three-year waiting list.

According to Joyce Scott, program director, for the first time in recent years she will soon have apartments available.

"We will have one in February, one in April and then we will have three or four vacancies this coming summer," Scott said.

In 2010 Our Mother's House expanded services by partnering with Children First, Head Start and Early Head Start.

They currently offer 17 programs designed to foster independence, prepare youngsters academically and socially while teaching their mothers to become self-sufficient.

Our Mother's House receives referrals from SOLVE Maternity Home, Pregnancy Solutions and local churches.

"Also, our girls are referred by doctors and hospitals and social services throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties," Scott said.

Scott's record of success is indisputable; her clients leave with college degrees and jobs but despite her success rate, she said fundraising is "much more difficult in this economy."

Fundraising is vital to maintain 17 apartments, the nursery and offices.

"We have 20 toddlers and 20 toilets for the toddlers to throw things down," Scott said, laughing. Every mother can relate, she said, to the fact that "our plumber is our best friend."

More than 75 percent of the young women who live at Our Mother's House have been victims of domestic abuse.

"We try to break the cycle, to give them the tools to choose to move forward and get the skills that they will need to gain and hold a job," Scott said.

Richeile Brock, 25, and her daughters, Nevaeh, 2, and Mariana, 10 months, live at Our Mother's House. Brock is working and going to school.

Independence and self-confidence are just a few of the skills that she said she has gained while living at Our Mother's House.

Brock has been chosen to speak at the nonprofit's biggest fundraiser, a wine tasting, dinner and auction on Feb. 28 at Plantation Golf & Country Club.

"I didn't graduate from high school," Brock said, "but now I am getting my GED.

"I want to go to college and get a degree in business management."

Brock moved to Our Mother's House last July; without their support, she said, she simply would not be self-sufficient or successful. She said they provided an opportunity for a second chance.

Scott said that the greatest need is for financial donations as well as gas cards, tool kits, car safety kits and gift cards to "all- in-one stores where they can get a haircut, buy clothes or whatever else they need."

She added, "Through the years Our Mother's House has served more than 500 women and their children. These are women who are no longer a drain on our strained public services -- when they leave, they can take care of themselves and their children. …

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