HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — On Friday, a local domestic violence organization opened its doors to a new emergency shelter in south Hillsborough County.
“It really breaks my heart that we have to have this facility. It’s just that it’s so needed,” said Laurie Herring, Executive Director of Mary and Martha House.
For the last 38 years, Mary and Martha House has provided housing and support services for women and children who are victims of homelessness or domestic violence; numbers that are especially on the rise since the pandemic started.
“There’s just not enough rooms. All the shelters in Hillsborough County are on overflow already," said Herring.
This project has been in the works for years, and Hillsborough County Commissioner Sandra Murman said that in south Hillsborough County, “This is the only place people, women and children can go, that have issues.”
It’s a brand new facility that will house 54 women and children for a few months at a time.
“We have a very large kitchen with 18 refrigerators, so each family gets their own set of cabinets, their own set of refrigerators. This way different cultures, they cook different, they eat different, this way they’re able to maintain some kind of normalcy,” said Herring.
In those few months, the facility works to help the women with their education and job skills, before sending them back out on their own.
“Counseling usually is the first thing we need to help them do. It’s not just employment, it’s employment, it’s financial literacy, it’s job skills training,” said Herring.
They’re hoping to finish furnishing the house so they can welcome their first women and families in the next few weeks, and they expect all 54 beds will stay full.
“We get hundreds of calls a week,” said Herring.
If you’d like to donate to help Mary and Martha House finish furnishing their new shelter, click here.