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Group raising money to buy house for homeless women veterans

Akron Beacon Journal - 10/19/2018

Oct. 19--The faith-based group Women Mentoring Women Inc. plans to buy and set up a home in Akron for female veterans and will hold its first major fundraiser Saturday to help with the purchase.

The Akron organization's goal is to provide a safe place for homeless women veterans to live and where they can learn to adapt to civilian life and seek jobs.

The fundraiser runs noon to 5 p.m. at Summit Lake Community Center, 380 W. Crosier St. in Akron.

The nonprofit group has met with the Akron mayor's office and the Summit County Land Bank for support and to find a site for their transitional housing program. They also have been getting guidance from Cleveland-based Women of Hope, which provides housing for homeless women in that city.

"We incorporated in 2014," said Charlotte L. Cross, founder and executive director of Women Mentoring Women. "But we weren't up and running in 2014. We're just starting to run the ship this year."

The group opened an office in September at the back of Waterloo Center, off East Waterloo Road.

Women Mentoring Women wants to buy a home in Akron'sFirestone Park neighborhood because that would provide easy access to nearby Veterans Administration and related resources.

The group is reviewing listings from the land bank to find a suitable property. The land bank compiles abandoned and tax delinquent properties that can be reused or repurposed.

"They reached out to us some time ago," said Patrick Bravo, land bank executive director. (The land bank is not part of county government.)

The women's group is using the land bank's Welcome Home Program, which is used to help individuals and organizations acquire residential properties, Bravo said.

The new home, once it is acquired and renovated, will be called Corrist Place; the name honors a Women Mentoring Women board member who is a service-connected disabled veteran and also honors the board member's mother.

The group doesn't see itself in competition with a Summit County government plan to open a transitional place for homeless female veterans called Summit Liberty House. County Executive Ilene Shapiro announced the creation of the home during her state of the county speech in August.

"We more than welcome that. If the need is as great as it claims to be ... the more the merrier," said Cheryl Moorer, a member of the group and Cross' sister. "At the same time, we want to let everyone know we're here."

Moorer, Cross and others in Women Mentoring Women have worked with veterans going back decades and have veterans in their families. It's that time and experience that lets them see the need for a transitional program for local homeless female veterans, they said.

"I worked for the Department of Veteran Affairs for about 13 years," helping with benefits, human resources, and more, Cross said.

She said she talked with lots of veterans over that period. "I heard a lot of stories," she said.

"My heart definitely is into helping the female veterans," Cross said.

Women Mentoring Women calls itself a faith-based nonprofit; the women who run it are affiliated with Pavilion of Praise Church on West Waterloo Road, a member of the Pentecostal Tennessee-based Church of God in Christ. Cross, who is a pastor, is director of outreach community services at her church.

"We help to feed a lot of veterans and their families," Cross said.

Corrist House's transitional housing program will be designed to help female veterans for up to two years, including teaching life and job skills, Cross and Moorer said.

Moorer said her background in medicine brought her into contact with female veterans who returned home and were unable to cope well with civilian life because of their experiences. "I had a lot of veteran patients," she said.

Many of the people who went into military service at a young age didn't learn the skills or have experiences that prepared them for a nonmilitary life, Moorer said.

"You have veterans that come out and they don't know how to apply for federal jobs," Cross said. "So I can teach them how to apply for federal jobs and private sector jobs, resume writing."

Each veteran will get an individual development plan, Cross said.

"The first step will be to get these women veterans in a safe, secure place," she said. "We'll also teach you how to live in a home setting. We'll definitely do assistance referrals."

"We walk through them every single step," Moorer said.

For more information, go to womenmentoringwomen.org.

The Women Mentoring Women fundraiser at Summit Lake Community Center will overlap for an hour with an informational program 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. by the Summit County Office of Consumer Affairs on the dangers of payday lending.

Jim Mackinnon covers business and county government. He can be reached at 330-996-3544 or jmackinnon@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him @JimMackinnonABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/JimMackinnonABJ.

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(c)2018 the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio)

Visit the Akron Beacon Journal (Akron, Ohio) at www.ohio.com

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