CLEVELAND (WJW) — A Cleveland home for women and children in crisis has more than one reason to celebrate this Valentine’s Day.
Laura’s Home Women’s Crisis Center is also celebrating its 17th anniversary while continuously working to highlight a hidden crisis in Cleveland.
“We turn away on average 30 women and children a day,” said Linda Uveges, the Chief Operating Officer of The City Mission.
Last year, Laura’s Home provided nearly 50,000 nights of shelter, but it’s the 2,000 people turned away during that same time, including 900 children, Uveges said is difficult to forget.
Laura’s Home, which is a part of The City Mission, is working to raise $20 million dollars to expand space and programming. Uveges said family homelessness is increasing, they have remained at capacity for the past seven years.
“Laura’s home has changed me for the better like so much I came here very broken unsure, uncertain and now I’m getting put together again,” said Deneisha Coates, 22, with her 1-year old son Carrio on her lap.
Coates said she was homeless in high school and kept it a secret from school officials because she was afraid of being taken away from her mother before revealing the hidden struggles to a friend’s mother.
“I have not had anywhere to go. I was bathing in Wendy’s bathrooms and pretty much anywhere begging for food,” said Coates.
In the past six months of programming at Laura’s Home, Coates said her faith was renewed. She is looking forward to taking classes in the spring to become a patient care assistant with dreams of one day becoming a doctor.
According to Uveges, 92% of women who complete programming at the center go on to find stable housing. Michelle Mendez, a former center resident turned member of the client safety an security team, said the support was incredible.
“It was 2014, I was in a room this size and coming here with all my children changed my life completely,” said Mendez.
Uveges, who started as a volunteer 17 years ago said the power of love can be transforming and the women at the center have a team of people rooting for their success.
“We are able to really love on these families care for them in a compassionate way,” said Uveges.