A group of concerned citizens from Eastern Jackson County started Mother’s Refuge in 1987. Their concern was to help pregnant teenagers who didn’t have a safe place to live. Numerous people from various churches and community members had a hand in fundraising and organizing Mother’s Refuge.
The group first rented a house that had served as a convent for a local Catholic church. They rented that facility until 1998 before a local bank purchased the house and allowed Mother’s Refuge to stay there rent free. Then our home suffered a devastating fire.
The evening of October 8, 2012, our home was destroyed by a devastating fire. After the smoke cleared and the fire trucks and television news teams left on that long, dark evening, the director, staff, board members, and family members along with the young moms and babies were standing in front of the house in pure disbelief. Not knowing what the future held, we joined hands to pray for wisdom, strength and guidance. Needless to say, we were shocked and discouraged. In each of our hearts, we knew in the next few months there would be countless obstacles and hurdles to jump through in order to keep our mission alive. At that point, it would have been easy to simply say, “Board it up and let’s quit.”
Robert Zornes, Executive Director, said “as long as I live, I will never forget the words one young mother spoke as the van began to pull away from the curb. The young pregnant teenager softly said, “I now have no home again.” As devastating as it was for the staff and board, each one knew they were going to drive home to the security and safety of their own homes. Those six little words, “I now have no home again,” will forever echo in my mind, said Zornes. It’s those words that remind us that we are the safety net for those who often have nothing. To that young lady, all her worldly belongings had been reduced to a pile of rubble. Those simply stated words kept us motivated and determined to assure Mother’s Refuge continued the vital mission of providing a safe home for young moms and babies.
It’s a well known fact that tragedies often bring out the best in a community. We have witnessed that first hand. Our phones began to ring immediately the very night of the fire with caring and generous people who wanted to help us.
Words cannot express the gratitude we have for our donors, churches, civic clubs, companies, foundations and friends who have come to our rescue. Without their emotional and financial support, we simply could not have made it. Our young moms and babies felt their love and support, and are still very appreciative. Our friends have shown them that they truly live in a caring world.
I am once again reminded that tragedies always come with a price. However, I believe that trials and tragedies only make us stronger. Today, I am confident our programs to help those in need are stronger as a result of the fire.