By ANITA TODD | Contributing Writer
HAINES CITY – The Way Home, a faith-based, non-profit residential home for women and children broke ground last month, beginning a $100,000 addition and renovations to the existing location.
An efficiency apartment, walk-in pantry, laundry room and garage will be added to the current home, which has five bedrooms and five-and-one-half bathrooms.
The additions and renovations will add 1,437 square-feet to the home, which is already more than 3,000 square-feet and was purchased by the organization in 2010.
“We are so excited to be able to add the efficiency for a second house mother and be able to resolve some problems we’ve been having with the laundry and storage issues,” said LeAnn Pierce, Executive Director for The Way.
The $100,000 budget for the project is comprised of a $50,000 grant from an anonymous donor and $50,000 in matching gifts from a variety of donors.
Currently, the home has one house mother, making it difficult for her to have time off and also difficult to retain someone in that position. The efficiency apartment will provide the needed housing for the second house mother without taking away a bedroom that is needed for residents.
“A second house mother will make it easier on the first,” Pierce said. “And, without a house mother, we can’t provide services to the residents.”
The walk-in pantry is needed for storage and will allow for bulk purchases and provide a location for the freezer.
“It is such a challenge for food storage, especially when we have more families,” she said.
Residents can live in the home for up to one year while they complete the We Can Program, a 12-month program designed to provide a long-term combination of employability skills, mentoring, education and support.
Up to four families made up of women, single mothers, and children can live in the home at a time. Each room has its own bath and can hold up to three beds and/or people, for 12 residents max.
In addition to completing the We Can Program, residents must be working to get a job or attend school while living there.
“The Way Home is for women who are wanting to go back to school or work and don’t have the stability of being able to do that,” Pierce said.
Since opening in June 2011, the Way Home has been home to 24 families. The organization is funded entirely by donations and income earned from The Way Center, a thrift shop located in downtown Haines City.
The addition and renovations are scheduled to be completed in 90 days.
“We have volunteers who are going to do the trim work and paint,” Pierce said.
Donations are still needed to purchase two new washer and dryer sets, paint and décor for the efficiency, including a bedroom set and mattress. Monthly partners are also encouraged to get involved for recurring expenses such as insurance, electricity and water.
For more information or to donate, call (863) 422-2309 or visit thewaycenter.org.