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Examiner
  • Mothers Refuge picking up the pieces

  •  A fire last month destroyed almost half of the Mother’s Refuge home in southwest Independence. Complete rooms were destroyed, personal items were damaged and what the fire did not touch, the water and smoke did.

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  •  A fire last month destroyed almost half of the Mother’s Refuge home in southwest Independence. Complete rooms were destroyed, personal items were damaged and what the fire did not touch, the water and smoke did.
    Robert Zornes, executive director of Mother’s Refuge, said the last few weeks have been difficult, but he is grateful for the community support he has received, even from the most unlikely people.
    “We are still dealing with the insurance company and contractors to determine our best option,” he said. “The girls are doing well. We have been very blessed to have all of the support we have received.”
    Mother’s Refuge, started in 1987, is a program for pregnant teenagers and their infants.
    The day after the Oct. 8 fire, the four girls and two babies in residence moved into an open cottage at Drumm Farm. Zornes said he is “very grateful” for the immediate response he received from Drumm, but it was never a long-term solution. Less than one week ago, Mother’s Refuge moved to a building owned by the Remnant Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, which is also the former 4-H building. He said the girls and their children will be able to remain at this location, hopefully, until renovations are made to the former house.
    “Because of the fire, the city is requiring us to rezone the property. We will also need to make new upgrades to meet city and state regulations,” Zornes said. “I think we will be able to move back to the home within nine months to a year.”
    Zornes said donations for Mother’s Refuge have been pouring in since the fire. More than $14,000 was raised during a recent benefit concert at Nativity of Mary, and the non-profit organization also placed first in a recent People’s Choice contest through the National Christian Foundation Passion Awards program. Nominated earlier this summer, Mother’s Refuge was selected among 15 organizations to participate in a Facebook contest. As the winner, it will receive $10,000.
    However, not all of the donations have been large. Three young girls donated about $60 from their own banks to the teenagers and babies, and women at a correctional facility in Chillicothe, Mo., donated $500 and several handmade blankets to Mother’s Refuge following the fire.
    “It makes you feel exuberant and reassured knowing that all kinds of people are making these donations. This was money that they probably used to purchase their own personal items, but they took the time to think about someone else,” he said. “That is very special.”
    According to the Mother’s Refuge website, www.mothersrefuge.org, a teenage girl can be admitted into the program any time during her pregnancy. Residents can stay in the program until their child is 1 year old, but must continue their education as well as participate in household responsibilities. In exchange, Mother’s Refuge provides the girls with a home, clothing, food, access to medical care and infant, parenting and practical life-skills classes. After completing the program, girls can return home, live independently, move to another residential facility or enter into the aftercare/transitional living program.
    Page 2 of 2 - Zornes said items are always needed for the girls and their children. This includes everything from diapers, wipes and bottles to toiletry items, bedding and household items. In addition, gift cards are a good way to help to purchase items or provide entertainment for the residents.
    “Because of our lack of storage, gift cards are great because we can purchase items as needed,” he said. “We have certainly been blessed by a lot of material things. Money is also needed to rebuild and do the things that we need to do for these girls.”
    For more information on Mother’s Refuge, to view a Needs List or to donate, visit the organization’s website at www.mothersrefuge.org.
     
     
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