Presbyterian Home for Children

Mom in need gets to use her talents to help other moms in need

By Cindy Fisher – Director of Communication for the Presbyterian Home for Children

Ten years ago this year, I left an abusive marriage with my two small kids in search of safety and security.

Within a year of leaving, I lost my job of nine years and my big house on a hill where I thought I would raise those small children. I went from middle class to homeless — just like that.

Fear of financial struggles is one of the top reasons women stay in dangerous relationships, and now I understand why.

It didn’t feel like it at the time, but I was one of the lucky moms who fell into financial insecurity right after a divorce. I had supportive parents who helped me get approved for an apartment for me and my children to live in, because I had no proof of income. Within a month, I left the hotel rooms and friends’ couches and had a place to call my own again.

But there are a lot of women who don’t have that kind of support when they make the decision to leave. That’s where the Presbyterian Home for Children in Talladega, Alabama, comes in.

The Home opened in 1868 to care for children left behind after the Civil War. It has adjusted to meet today’s needs with programs like Secure Dwellings, which would have been a blessing for me and my children if I didn’t have my parents’ help.

Secure Dwellings provides apartments or a bedroom with shared living space in large cottages on the Home’s campus where moms and their children can get back on their feet. The Home has case workers assigned to the moms to help them find jobs or get enrolled in education courses toward a future career. They have an accredited private school for their children to attend while moms find a way toward independence again after the two-year program is up. The Home also has Temporary Supportive Housing for moms that graduate from Secure Dwellings to keep families on track for success and break the cycle of homelessness.

For the last three years, I have been blessed to work for the Presbyterian Home for Children as their Director of Communication. In that role, I get to tell others about the amazing work that is done at the Home through programs like Secure Dwellings that help unhoused children and their moms. In fact, there are few programs like Secure Dwellings in the state of Alabama that take in children and their female caregiver. Even fewer accept moms with boys and teen boys, which allows us to keep more families together as they go through their crisis. As a mom of a boy and a girl, I am grateful to the Home for that.

Besides Secure Dwellings, the Home also provides housing at the Talladega campus for those who are blind, deaf, deafblind or multi-disabled in our innovative Union Village development of tiny cottages next to five large cottages designated for Union Village. It operates in a partnership with our neighbor, the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind which provides full wrap-around program supports.

The Home also helps keep families together through our Family Bridges program. Through a contract with the Department of Human Resources, the program sends social workers into homes in seven counties to ensure living situations are ideal for a child’s wellbeing and to help moms and dads reach goals to keep their family intact.

My journey as a mom and as a parent has not been easy, but I get through it knowing I am helping promote programs at the Presbyterian Home for Children that provide moms like me with the shelter, safety, healing and hope that they need today and that I needed and would have cherished a decade ago.