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Fire at Mother's RefugeDear Friends:
A terrible tragedy happened just a few days ago on Monday evening, October 8. The Motherís Refuge home was destroyed by fire, leaving our young mothers and babies homeless once again. You may have heard one of the many news stories on local television and radio, or read about it in one of the local newspapers and already know this news. However, I felt it necessary to communicate with some of our best friends as soon as possible. That is why you are receiving this letter.
As the word began to quickly spread throughout the community, I stand in amazement of the outpouring of love and support that our community expressed so quickly. While standing on the curb watching the flames die out, I was receiving text after text and phone calls asking how they could help. The outpouring of support was overwhelming.
After the smoke had cleared and the fire trucks rolled away, our young mothers and babies left with only the clothing on their backs and a gift card from the American Red Cross. As the girls and babies pulled away in our van to retreat to one of our dedicated staff memberís home to spend the night, one young woman expressed to me, ďI now have no home again.Ē
It was devastating to helplessly watch smoke roll from the roof top of Motherís Refuge. For a fleeing moment I stood alone with tears swelling up inside and thought, ďItís over, itís time to toss in the towel and board it up.Ē I confess that those thoughts quickly went through my mind as I started thinking about all the extra hours of work and fundraising that was about to begin, not only for me, but for my dedicated staff and volunteers as well.
Those thoughts quickly dissipated as the cameras rolled and a local television reporter began to ask about the mission of Motherís Refuge. My mind flashed back to see many of the faces of the young women and babies that had called Motherís Refuge home during the past 25 years. I shared about a young 16 year old girl that was living with her parents and her 37 year old boyfriend in a condemned trailer with no water, electric or gas. I remembered three winters ago when a 20 year old pregnant woman called, desperately wanting a warm place to stay. The weather was sub-zero and the only place she had to get warm was the pot-belly stove in the back room of a local auto salvage yard. How could I forget the 19 year old girl that had been sexually molested since age three? Her sick step father would hold her down forcibly and inject her with drugs before molestation. Many girls have told us that this was the first place they could fall asleep at night and know that they were safe from sexual molesters, drugs and crime.
A fire may have destroyed our house, but it has NOT destroyed our zeal for our mission to provide a home for those less fortunate. The need is certainly just too great.
Tragedies always come with a price. However, I believe that trials and tragedies only make us stronger. Today, I am confident that our program will be even stronger as a result of this fire.
While we rebuild, our girls and babies are living temporarily in a cottage at Drumm Farm in Independence. Our programs will continue there until the end of November. We are currently looking for another temporary location that we can occupy until our structure can be rebuilt. As you can imagine our program expenses will increase during this transitional period. They are already beginning to mount.
In closing, I must tell you about our first two donations after the fire that are extremely heartwarming. The first was a call from the Women's prison in Chillicothe, Mo. Several of the women prisoners watched the television news coverage and are donating $500 from a special fund that they have. The women sell different items but also gave from their 35 cents an hour wages to make the donation. They will also be knitting baby blankets and booties to send to our young mothers and babies.
The donation from behind the prison walls to help homeless, pregnant teenagers and their babies is truly a gift of the "widow's mite".
The second gift happened the afternoon after the fire. A cute, six year old girl came strolling into our office carrying her "money box" with $61.40. After she watched the television news Monday evening, she quickly jumped off the divan and ran into her bedroom bringing back her "money box" and telling her mother she wanted to give her money to help the babies. She then encouraged her two sisters to also donate their banks. Less than 24 hours after the fire, they brought all their money, along with food items, to help the babies that had lost their home to fire.
Please help provide a safe-haven for homeless, pregnant and parenting teenagers and their babies. Your investment at this urgent time will help assure us that we can continue our programs after a tragic fire.
Robert E. Zornes