Miami Rescue Mission’s Center for Women & Children is being moved to a larger facility to accommodate the growing number of single women and mothers seeking aid, said Lianner Navarro, the community development associate for the not-for-profit.
The organization recently sold the 40-bed facility in Wynwood and is currently in the midst of transitioning to the larger one purchased almost 6 months ago in Miami Gardens, but challenges with the permits had stymied the move, Navarro said.
“The idea to get a bigger center was definitely because more women and children are coming in and asking for help,” she said.
Along with providing basic amenities, education and therapy to help homeless and abused women get back on their feet, the shelter has launched various programs, such as CoverGirls, which offered relatable mentors to assist in employment opportunities, and Girlfriends 4 Girlfriends (G4G) to help raise funding for affordable housing.
“The goal for these programs is to empower women, through the mentoring and events, and letting them know that they’re in a tough situation now, but are going to get out of it,” said Navarro, who is also the leader of CoverGirls in Miami-Dade County.
Madeline Corujo-Santoni, a single mother who found herself homeless in 2015 after traveling from Puerto Rico looking for better medical care for her ill son, said the Miami Rescue Mission was a godsend.
“They’ve helped me turn my life around,” said Corujo-Santoni. “They provided the doctors and specialists my son needed, they gave me a job, they gave me a house. Even after we left they still provided for us, when Hurricane Irma came, they gave us food, saying ‘come by and take whatever you need.’”
She had accepted a mentor from CoverGirls, where she received advice on where to look for jobs and how to interview. She also graduated from the women’s residential program A.W.A.R.E.N.E.S.S. in 2016, making her eligible for G4G housing.
“My mentor tried to get me job opportunities, told me ‘look here, and here,’ would listen and give me great advice,” she said.
The relationship between mentor and mentee is a key factor to the success of CoverGirls, said Carla Rodrigues, a manager overseeing staff at the Wynwood location. The homes that are provided for them after graduating are also intended to add the extra stability these families need.
“People should know that the families we have are broken,” said Rodrigues. “the kids go through so much, home to home. They’re traumatized and need all the love and support they can get.”
“The whole goal is to get those kids the stability they need, and having a home is a big source of stability and helps the emotional well-being of the mother and children,” she added.
In addition to the new Center for Women & Children in Miami Gardens, the not-for-profit has built private residences for the women who have graduated from their programs, like Corujo-Santoni and her family, with complexes in Miami, Hollywood and Pompano.
Below, find some graphs pertaining to homelessness and unsheltered families