YORK -- Stacy Jones wants to get back on her feet.
The single mother of three children ages 6 and younger lost her job earlier this year after missing too much work following wrist surgery. She was forced to move in with friends in Chester County when her York home was repossessed.
Her parents never taught Jones to drive, so she doesn't have transportation to get to a new job. Even if she could drive, she couldn't afford car payments or insurance.
"It's really depressing," Jones said. "It's just been so stressful and embarrassing, having to go through Social Security to get food stamps. But you do what you can for your babies."
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Jones is hoping Tender Hearts House of Hope will be the key to getting her life back in order.
The emergency shelter in York will open this month with bunk beds, toddler beds and cribs for up to 14 women and children suffering from homelessness or domestic violence.
The shelter has been a goal for director Anslee House since she opened Tender Hearts Community Outreach and Thrift Store in January 2006.
"This is a first for the city of York," House said. "There's no other place like this in the area, really, except for maybe Safe Passage in Rock Hill."
Women with children through age 10 can stay at Tender Hearts for up to 90 days, House said. The shelter offers 24-hour security, counseling, basic computer training and financial management training. They will also have access to a GED program and life skills training, which includes learning how to build a resume, House said.
"We're not just putting a Band-Aid on their problem, but we're giving the life skills they need to move on," she said. "We want the women to leave here with their lives back on track. We want them to return to the community as prosperous, independent citizens."
House said the women and children who will seek shelter at Tender Hearts have real needs.
She said she has already heard from women living out of their cars because they're afraid to return home to abusive husbands. Others, like Jones, just need a jump start after being down on their luck.
House said the new shelter is truly a community project. She said 95 percent of the items at Tender Hearts House of Hope were donated, from handmade quilts from the ladies at Harvest Baptist Church to a toy fire truck given by York Fire Chief Domenic Manera.
She said Steagues LLC of Kings Mountain donated dressers and other furniture and Southeastern Industrial Co. provided a four-foot extension to the building to accommodate showers. Doans Plumbing in York even installed the showers for free, she said.
"The community really has stepped up and been very generous to us," House said. "People are eager to help this worthy cause."
Because the organization is so young, Tender Hearts receives no federal or state money. Its primary source of funding comes from grants and private donations.
During the planning stages, House traveled from Greenville to North Carolina looking at women's shelters. She made sure each cubical had its own personality, thanks in part to the donated quilts.
She added extra touches in each room, such as greenery, rugs and baby blankets. The bathroom cabinets are already stocked and the kitchen will have plenty of food and drinks.
That's comforting to know, said Jones, who hopes to be among Tender Heart's first tenants.
"It's gonna be nice," said Jones, who said that her arm is healing and she is ready to find work. "It's good that there are places out there to help people."
For more information, contact Tender Hearts Ministries of York County at 684-3132, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.tenderheartsinyork.org. Financial donations may be mailed to Tender Hearts Ministries, PO BOX 634, York, SC, 29745.
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