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Salvation Army Compassion House giving the homeless hope

Posted at 7:26 PM, Dec 26, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-26 23:18:50-05

STUART, Fla. — The face of homelessness is changing.

It's not just the man who lives in the woods or begs on the corner.

A twist of fate, abuse, or unfortunate circumstance can leave women and children with no place to call home.

The Salvation Army Compassion House in Stuart, is a beacon of hope for these women.

Ashley Eisner could have never imagined she'd be living in a homeless shelter with her daughters.

"I've been a stay-at-home for 11 years. I didn't know anything else."

That was until the sudden death of her husband, Ken, at the age of 37. A move from Massachusetts to Florida to be closer to family did not go as Ashley had hoped.

She was left with no home, no job and three kids to support. "It's a very scary when you just had a loss and trauma, then to be homeless. It's something no mother ever wants to go through."

A google search led Ashley to Compassion House.

Kim Johnson, is public relations director and volunteer coordinator for the Salvation Army of Martin County. She says, "It's not an emergency shelter it's a transitional shelter. Our shelter is designed to help women get back on their feet."

The application process is rigorous. The background checks are thorough.

Residents can live here for only 90 days. There are strict rules, chores to do and curfews.

Staff members help the women find affordable daycare, jobs, education if they need it and ultimately a permanent home.

Kim Johnson explains, "It's completely free to live here while they stay here. They need to show they're saving 70% of their weekly income towards rent, first, last and security deposit."

Marianna Saucido is a grateful former resident. She says she would probably be living in her car if it were not for Compassion House.

Thanks to the skills she learned and the help she received today she is thriving and so are her 2 children.

"They believe in me, put trust in me, said yes you can do this. Don't cry, get up it's OK to start again, it's OK. They've been amazing."

Ashley Eisner is well on her way to independence. Soon, she and her daughters will move on to a new chapter of their lives. She says, "You know they're strong. Strong and this place here makes them feel like everything will be OK."

Compassion house opened in 2011. Kim Johnson says their success rate is close to 98%. That means 98% of their residents stay out of homelessness for over 3 years.

Again, everything is free for the residents. Food, linens, toiletries.

It cost 30 thousand dollars a month to keep the house running, so monetary donations are always needed.

Here is a list of other donations always needed:

- Laundry detergent

- Personal hygiene items (shampoo, razors, soap, toothpaste toothbrushes, deodorant)

- Packages of new children underwear and socks (all sizes)

- Diapers

- Baby wipes

- General cleaning supplies

- Twin-sized sheets and blankets

- Towels and washcloths

The Salvation Army of Martin County serves Martin, St. Lucie and Okeechobee counties. It is located at 821 SE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in Stuart, FL 34994

For more information call 772-288-1471, ext. 202