This week I sat down with Deborah Moore founder and Director of WIT, a non-profit program for women in transition who have come from the jail system back into society.
The women have a background of drug and alcohol abuse, and WIT house is a place for them to become clean and sober through a 12-step program, and begin to make plans for their future.
The impetus for the non-profit venture was the need that Deborah Moore saw within the system, which was brought to her attention by a Wayne County parole officer. For Wayne County there were only two parole officers, a difficult burden as Wayne is in the top 10 areas where parolees are returned. The officer shared with her what was really needed was “something for women.” That was all she needed to hear. In 2007, Deborah Moore (mother of 10 children–six adopted) cashed out her own IRA to start her first home for women.
With little money to get started, Deborah still managed to pull together the first WIT house, donated by her father in law and located on 1130 Boyer Street in Richmond. It was a small house which accommodated only a few women, so they later moved to their new location with four bedrooms, a large kitchen/Dining room and much more space.
Deborah started this venture without a background in drug and alcohol prevention (she has a bachelors in Sociology and History) and shared that her right hand person, Diedre, helped her to understand the program and to know when the girls were “working her.” She added she used to be a “sucker for tears.” Along with the 12 step program they follow they also have each woman work with a counselor who comes to the home and helps them with an individual life plan. They also tend a communal garden in the back of the home. Several of the girls work with Kevin Gaddis who operates a fundraiser booth at the Colts games in Indianapolis. They receive a percentage of booth earnings to give back to the WIT house.
House Manager, Judy Graper is on site and also, according to Deborah Moore, will “find the funds” they need. Her room is on the first floor, in the dining room, while the other women in the program share three of the bedrooms. The fourth is being used as a quiet room for those who may want to study for their GED, are taking classes toward a degree, or just need a quiet place to plan their lives. They recently received a donation of two computers for the home-one is now in the quiet room.
Deborah shared that they have gotten many referrals from prisons and departments in Reid Hospital. And though there is a great need in the county for a place for homeless women and children, Deborah shared that the two groups did not blend well together. So their program is solely focused on the needs of women returning from prison with dependency issues. They now refer the homeless to Genesis.
When asked how many of the women have come from abusive home situations, Deborah sadly said—“nearly all of them.”
Their main focus right now is funding…funding…funding. Deborah says they receive no money from outside sources—city, state or federal funds. They are basically running on “fumes” from private donations, always fearing they may lose the home or have utilities cut off. (As we sat on the front porch a car drove up to the house and all the women breathed a collective sigh of relief when they realized it wasn’t a utility representative). For now Deborah says, “the Lord has blessed me to be able to take care and meet the needs of the girls.”
Deborah had high praise and thanks for their small board including David Austin of Richmond and others, as well as the private groups that have come to their rescue when they have been in dire need. Father Todd from the Catholic Church was first on her list of thanks. She said their church has helped with furniture and appliances as well as major emergency funding when needed.
First English Lutheran Church has offered to give school supplies to the women in the WIT house who are also mothers, and they continue to help in other ways.
To see the home and hear what they do they will have an Open House on August 11th, 2010 from 6 – 8 p.m. You can meet some of the women who have successfully transitioned back into the community and others who are on their way there. The home is located at 415 S. 15th St in Richmond Indiana. They also plan to have another car wash fundraiser this month. You can visit their Facebook site for more details.
To help support the WIT house they are always in need of private monetary donations to support the house. You can also help by donating supplies: Toiletries, paper products, cleaning supplies and any household items such as kitchen utensils, silverware, etc.
The WIT house is a very worthwhile non-profit reaching out and helping women in Wayne County. Thanks to Deborah and her team for hanging in there and making a huge difference for women in need in our community. House manager, Judy Graper, shared she believes that “God gave us two hands, one to help ourselves and one to help others.”