Lately, I have noticed more homeless women in Charlotte standing on street medians - I don’t have the data, just noticed more faces I, unfortunately, try to avoid. However, as a new friend and writer, Melissa LaCross reminded me, “Acknowledging someone’s humanity leaves space
And I’ve just come across a SHARE Charlotte partner who is doing just that. My Sister’s House Transitional Living Program, which operates under the leadership of Friendship Community Development Corporation, first began at Friendship Missionary Baptist Church as an overflow shelter for the Center for Hope.
However, after having little impact for rehabilitation for the residents flowing in and out of their shelter, they saw the need to work independently to acknowledge women’s humanity. Friendship Community Development Corporation has been empowering single, homeless women and restoring their dignity, extending grace and providing growth opportunities since the day they opened the doors to My Sister’s House in Charlotte over 9 years ago.
There are 24 beds and strict intake policies: a woman must be drug-free for at least 9 months to be placed at their facility, work 20+ hours per week (many residents work 45+ hours weekly or go to school), and attend a weekly session with their in-house counselors. They have a certified, licensed counselor and counseling interns on staff with whom residents are required to talk once a week. Many residents work multiple days a week, pay rent, and perform house duties to help them transition to sustainable, independent living.
My Sister’s House helps their residents become self-sufficient by providing safe, temporary housing and life skills training. They have served 400 residents since they opened their doors in March 2010 with the average resident staying around 10 months.
One such resident, D.S., describes that she “grew up in a hard working family… with parents who had high expectations. My life was going well until my husband was tragically killed. For years I provided for myself and my children and was proud to watch them grow from babies to responsible adults.”
D.S’s story didn’t end there. When her employer downsized, she was let go, and soon moved to Charlotte to find a new start. She ate through her savings quickly and had a difficult time finding a job. This could be anyone’s story.
Luckily, My Sister’s House was there for D.S., to provide not only a home but also wrap-around services to help women in a situation like hers to regain their physical, mental, and financial confidence and find the rug that was pulled out from under them.
My 6-year-old recently asked, “Why does she not have a home?” when we saw a lady holding a piece of cardboard with the words “Homeless. Please help,” scrawled across it. My mind flooded with potential trite answers but I settled with, “I don’t know” because I realized - I don’t. I can make all kinds of assumptions but hearing residents’ at My Sister’s House’s stories, I realize - with the right set of circumstances - that could be me. Years throw curve balls and sometimes we hit them, and sometimes we don’t. That is why My Sister’s House exists.
If you’d like to get involved, My Sister's House needs volunteers for their front desk, especially between the times of 4 - 7 p.m.
Friendship Community Development Corporation also operates a thrift store, Great Things! (1914 Beatties Ford Road), to help cover the operating costs of My Sister’s House. Great Things! welcomes donations of gently-used men’s and women’s designer clothing, shoes, jewelry, handbags and home décor items.