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Fourteen people have lived at the By Grace Women’s Transitional Home in Middleburg since the shelter opened to women and their children 18 months ago.

The 8 East Oak Ave. home has offered temporary housing, education, help in securing employment and a permanent home to women and their children from Snyder, Union, Northumberland, Montour and Columbia counties with a mostly volunteer staff, including unpaid administrator Stephanie Burke, who provide about 200 hours coverage each month, as well as one paid case manager and two overnight staff.

“We’re helping to get them connected and involved in the community so they aren’t so isolated,” said Burke of the women whose average stay at the shelter is 105 days.

Emilee Fitch, 20, of Winfield, began working at the shelter as an AmeriCorps volunteer and has stayed on as a volunteer one day a week.

“It’s so rewarding to help and the ladies are awesome,” the 20 year old said, referring to the residents and staff, including Burke and case manager Tammy Clinger. “I enjoy seeing the women grow into themselves. You see them go from struggling to self sufficiency.”

The mainobstacle for many of the single women is finding a job with a sustainable wage and the lack of reliable transportation, said Burke.

Most of the women served haven’t had children and she said it’s been an eye opener to see the age span of the women in need, adults from age 18 to 63, who have been referred to the faith based shelter by word of mouth, probation and parole officials, hospitals and churches.

“We’vehad a little bit of a shift in terms of focus,” said Burke of the relationship shelter officials have developed with local Area on Aging agencies.

Two of the older women who lived at the shelter received help in moving into an assisted living facility, Burke said. In all, nearly 70 percent of the individuals served have moved into their own homes, she said.

“These women become a support system to each other,” she said.

One single mother who left the shelter and found employment on the night shift brought her child to By Grace to be cared for by the residents she’d formed a bond with until she got a day shift position and was able to place her child in daycare, said Burke.

While the women have been a support to one another, the shelter relieson overnight volunteers and financial contributions to help offset the monthly $5,000 operating cost of mortgage payments, utilities and supplies since it receives no state or federal funding.
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