Fire Destroys Shelter for Young Homeless Moms
INDEPENDENCE, Mo. — It was a safe haven for pregnant teenagers and young mothers with nowhere else to go. But those young women are again without a place to stay following a fire at the Mother’s Refuge shelter.
Authorities say that fire broke out at the shelter around 7 p.m. on Monday. The eight-bed home was heavily damaged in the blaze and now many of the residents of the shelter are forced to start over again.
One of those young moms is 18-year-old Priscilla. She’s three months pregnant and says without the shelter she’d be on the streets.
“I would probably try to go from house to house, just house hopping,” she said. “They’ve done so much for me, and I’ve only been here for two months and it’s hard for me to just see it shattered, and we don’t know what’s going to happen after this.”
She says the shelter is all she and the young moms who live there have.
Mother’s Refuge is a program for pregnant young women, 19 years old or younger. It says it’s provided a home for more than 1,250 young women and babies since 1987. It says it provides around 4,000 bed nights to young moms and their babies, serves more than 10,000 meals and snacks and goes through more than 12,000 diapers a year. It says residents are required to continue their education while in the program by attending either high school, community college or taking GED classes.
Executive Director Robert Zornes says the shelter gives young moms and their babies a hand up.
“They’re young girls who’ve not really had a chance in life and I understand why they’re pregnant because they’re looking for love, they have no place to go many times, many times they’re kicked out or living from friend to friend or living some place that is unsafe,” says Zornes.
Zornes says they will rebuild but it will take time. He says the shelters littlest residents a source of constant inspiration.
“We’re not only just helping that baby now, but I think we’re helping babies for future generations, we’re trying to help actually break sometimes the generational habits and things that have happened in the past,” he says.
‘Mother’s Refuge’ is a non-profit 501(c)3 community based organization. To donate, volunteer or provide food and supplies visit www.mothersrefuge.org or call 816-353-8070. You can also mail donations to 14400 E. 42nd Street South, Suite 220, Independence, MO 64055 or drop of monetary donations at any Metcalf Bank.