By Justin Schmidt, Multimedia Journalist - bio | email
INDEPENDENCE, MO (KCTV) -
It's been two months and two moves after a fire destroyed Mother's Refuge, but the homeless shelter for young mothers and pregnant teens is back and waiting to help.
"If we're not here, they've got no place to go. When you're 17 to 18, it's a desperate situation. Someone needs to love them, teach them," said Mother's Refuse Executive Director Robert Zornes.
In the days right after the fire, no one knew what the future would be for Mother's Refuge. A day after the fire, the employees and residents moved into the Drumm Farm center for children in Independence, MO, and remained there for five weeks.
"It was kind of a shock, most of my stuff was in there. I had to get rid of almost all of it," said one resident who is a minor. "It's been really difficult. Most of that stuff had sentimental value. My new stuff just isn't quite the same."
The resident is four months pregnant. She said the requirements of Mother's Refuge that she and all others must stay in school, get an education and learn how to be a parent were what she needed.
"I wasn't doing very good on my own, I needed this a lot. It's changed my point of view, I'm happy to be here," she said.
The resident said the now-burned house felt like more of a home but, for her, anywhere helps.
"I'm grateful for it, the people that let us use it here. We really don't have a lot, or anywhere to go," she said.
Mother's Refuge is now temporarily set up in the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in Independence, MO. It has everything the pregnant teens need.
"If you're homeless and have no place to go, you'll go anywhere. We're a charity, and for the first time we feel like we're a charity, so we can't be choosy. It's perfect for us," Zornes said.
It'll be about a year before Mother's Refuge moves back in near U.S. Highway 40 and Hardy Avenue, but the now-empty house has attracted unwanted visitors.
"We had both air conditioners stolen last week (one unit was brand new). They tried to break into our sheds, they tried to break in the back door," Zornes said.
The executive director said they've now beefed up security.
"It's sad there are people like that," Zornes said. "There are more people who are generous than who are stealing."
If you'd like to learn more about Mother's Refuge, help them rebuild or are looking for help for a homeless teen, you can check out their Facebook page or their website.
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