In 2018, there were 6,775 cases of domestic violence related offenses in Hillsborough County. Domestic violence against women and children across the nation is an ongoing issue with dire consequences. No one knows this better than Laurie Herring, the executive director of Mary & Martha House, a domestic violence shelter and safe haven in Hillsborough County since 1982.
After years of planning, the staff and the board of directors are finally able to announce that a new, larger shelter is under construction, which ultimately will provide the housing that is so desperately needed for women and children in Hillsborough County, especially south county.
Over the past 36 years, Mary & Martha House has continually provided shelter, food and counseling for multitudes of abused women and their children. Most importantly, all women that seek help at Mary & Martha House are provided an extensive program to meet their individualized needs.
“We have case managers that develop specific case plans for each woman,” said Herring.
Just like the current facility, the new facility will provide housing for up to three months or longer depending on the need, while the staff provides assistance for various things such as finding employment, resumé writing, interview skills and transportation, among many other things.
In addition, Mary & Martha House provides a unique learning opportunity called “Financial Solutions – Save and Grow Program.” During this course, the women learn fiscal independence by managing their finances and budget.
Herring said that the new facility will have 53 beds, up from its current capacity of 23 beds. It will also have a large learning center where women can benefit from online training and educational resources, as well as applying for jobs and writing resumés. The new shelter is on schedule to be completed by February 2020 and was made possible in part by funding and grant money from the county as well as generous donations by many supporters in the community.
“Our number one goal is to make sure the women feel safe,” said Herring. “Then our case managers will work with them to overcome one barrier at a time.”
Mary & Martha House staff is extremely thankful to have received partial funding of $500,000 from Hillsborough County towards the building of this new million-dollar+ facility.
As with all nonprofit 501(c)(3) programs, Mary & Martha House relies on donations from the community. Donations can be made online through www.marymarthahouse.org or by calling the administrative office at 645-7874 or the shelter office at 641-7027.