Earlier this year you showed your support for Living Alternatives to start Merci’s Refuge, a residential program offered at no cost to women in crisis who desire to arise to their created purpose. Your encouragement has affirmed our confidence that there are hundreds of compassionate members of our community who believe in something larger than themselves. We want to inform you of where Merci’s Refuge is at and where we are headed in 2012. We cannot get there without you.
The development of Merci’s Refuge is being led by three employees of Living Alternatives, Greta Henry, Terri Lipscomb, and Nate Himes in addition to their regular responsibilities of supporting the organizations’ 11 pregnancy resource centers.
Following our two fundraising and awareness events in May, we have realized the need for additional experience and direction as we raise the remaining funds needed to start Merci’s Refuge and begin facilitating lasting change in women’s lives. We have talked with a few non-profit capital campaign consultants and hope to begin working directly with one at the beginning of 2012.
Meanwhile, Greta and Nate have continued working on the program of Merci’s Refuge as well as where and how to get started. Initially, our plan was to build a residential facility large enough to accommodate at least 12 women at a time. We have talked with local zoning boards and looked at several properties in the area. Through this process we believe the best plan for getting started is to purchase or rent an existing 4-6 bedroom house and later move to, or build, a larger facility as needed and as the required funds are available. We continue to encounter women on a regular basis who are looking for a place to live and a place to get their lives back on track and we wish to minister to them as soon as possible.
One such woman came to our Stark County Pregnancy Center earlier this year. She was pregnant and had no support from the father. She wanted a better life for her baby than she had herself as the child of a single mother with few resources. Although she believes she made the right decision to make an adoption plan, she is struggling to get her life on a good path and grow in her relationship with God. Without the daily support of caring relationships, spiritual and life growth opportunities, and accountability, she feels discouraged and we are concerned for her future. If Merci’s Refuge was open, she would have these supports that many of us take for granted, but all rely upon.
We have also been working on establishing partnerships with local organizations to reach our goal. Recently, Illini Christian Ministries (ICM) (www.icmfamily.org) of St. Joseph, IL shared with us their desire to see women in our community served as well. ICM had a home for young women several years ago which closed for a variety of reasons. Their vision for helping this population has always remained strong. Instead of competing with another like-minded organization, they are discussing ways they can help Merci’s Refuge get up and running and then provide a way to minister to the children of Merci’s Refuge’s clients through their Safe Families (www.safe-families.org) program.
Starting a new ministry is no easy task but we sincerely appreciate the prayers, encouragement, and financial support you have provided along the way and continue to provide on a regular basis.
Next Steps for 2012:
- Develop and execute a fundraising plan to purchase an existing home and cover 1 year of operating costs
- Purchase a home to begin Merci’s Refuge
- Begin hiring the needed support staff and recruiting volunteers
- Finalize strategic partnerships with community churches and organizations
- Finish the specifics of the curriculum
- Open doors
We would love to hear from you and answer any questions you may have.
The Merci’s Refuge Team
Wed, December 21, 2011
by Merci's Refuge Team