Two homes in Henderson rely on private grants, donations to keep doors open
HENDERSON, Nev. – More than a decade ago, Kathleen Miller and the framers of Living Grace Home came together to create something that didn’t exist in Southern Nevada at that time – a safe place where young pregnant girls could live until they gave birth. With $200 in the bank account and five years of work and prayer, Miller opened Living Grace Home in February 2007.
“When I say we opened on a wing and a prayer, we really did,” Miller said.
The idea was to not just put a roof over their heads, but to make them positive, productive members of the community through education and guidance. Girls, ages 14 to 22, can earn their high school diploma, or equivalent, find a job and get on their feet – whether they decide to keep their babies or give them up for adoption.
“They can then become productive members of the community. They can be the student or that stellar employee,” said Miller, Living Grace Home executive director. “Because someone gave them, not a handout, but a hand up.”
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics, named Nevada as one of the 10 states with the highest pregnancy rates in the country among young women ages 14 to 19.
Teen pregnancy is a community-wide problem, and it deserves community-wide solutions, Miller said.
To be accepted into Living Grace Home, a young woman must be between ages 14 to 22, pregnant and need a roof over her head. Many are referred by organizations in the city such as Nevada Partnership for Homeless Youth, Catholic Charities, HELP of Southern Nevada, Street Teens and high school counselors and teachers.
“Most of the girls aren’t living with their families when they come here,” Miller said. “Everybody’s situation is new and different. Our main task here is planting seeds.”
Girls can stay at Living Grace Home throughout their pregnancy until 90 days after their baby’s birth. Mothers under the age of 18 can then transfer to the second Living Grace Home, which opened this year, for an additional 21 months while they complete a vocational program or earn their diploma. Both homes are based on space available.
In addition to earning their diploma or getting a job, young women attend parenting, nutrition and personal finance workshops.
“We try to explain to them they can change the course of their lives. Just because this is the way it’s always been, it doesn’t mean it’s the way it has to be,” Miller said. “They can change their family tree.”
Although Living Grace Home is run off donations and local and private grants, girls are required to pay something to live there, based on their income or any money they get from family members. Some girls have paid as little as $10, because “You can’t live anywhere for free, and we’re trying to teach them that,” Miller said.
The homes are operated by 20 volunteers and six full-time and part-time staff, and each one has parental figures who live on site with the girls.
Fundraisers such as the seventh annual Gala for Grace, which takes place on Wednesday, May 21, at the Red Rock Country Club, help operate both homes, which costs about $320,000 annually. Reservations for the gala can be purchased by calling Anne Killoran at 702-228-1678.
“This can be a very generous community,” Miller said. “We know how to stretch a dollar. It’s a pretty thin budget for the services we provide.”
Living Grace Home opened in 2007 and provides housing, education and social services to 20 to 25 minor, pregnant women every year, filling a gap in current government and private nonprofit services in Clark County, which has the one of the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. The nonprofit organization partners with government entities, the education community and other nonprofit groups to help support young mothers. The goal is to assure that when young women leave Living Grace Home, they leave with their high school diploma, or equivalent, and move into permanent housing.
Additional information on Living Grace Home can be found online at livinggracehome.com or by calling 702-212-6472.