Kelly Guerra-Majano, 23, from Reno, was released from jail on Oct. 5 after her arrest last summer and immediately sought refuge at Living Grace Homes in Henderson.
“I lost everything and everyone and my little family,” Guerra-Majano said of her arrest. “We lost custody of our kids just like that. … I never want to experience that again in my life. It felt like I just lost everything I love, all in one swoop.”
Guerra-Majano was arrested on warrants and suspicion of possession of drug paraphernalia. She spent over two months in jail.
Guerra-Majano credited Living Grace with helping her regain custody of her sons Michael and Alexander. She is set to stay there for three months after giving birth to her third son, Demetrius.
Living Grace Homes is a nonprofit that houses and provides assistance to pregnant women. The organization has two houses that pregnant women, or women who recently gave birth, stay in. It also helps women find homes after leaving and helps furnish their new homes with donations. The organization is funded via private foundation grants, churches, individual donors and local government grants, said Kathleen Miller, executive director of Living Grace Homes.
One house is for mothers during pregnancy and up to three months after giving birth; the other is for moms without a high school diploma, no work experience or open cases in court.
Mothers who do not have open cases are allowed to stay up to three months after giving birth. Living Grace Homes works with judges on the length of stay for women with open cases.
Living Grace Homes holds classes for mothers on financial literacy, nutrition, parenting and safety. The organization also helps with any outstanding legal issues and helps get women to court, helps ensure restitution is paid and any community service hours are met.
The nonprofit also helps women get to doctor appointments and helps eligible women keep up with receiving government assistance. It also helps those who haven’t graduated get on track to receive high school diplomas.
The mothers must follow a curfew and outing rules; they have chores and a dress code to follow. When rules are broken, women are often given a number of warnings.
Women must provide proof of pregnancy, a tuberculosis test and a drug test. Women must be working, in school or volunteering at a minimum of 24 hours per week. Residents who don’t maintain a job are referred to JOIN Inc., Nevada JobConnect and other employment programs.
While staying at the home, women must be drug- and alcohol-free. Miller said residents of the homes are subject to random drug testing. If a woman tests positive for drugs or alcohol upon arrival, she is required to enter a detox program with another agency.
Miller said most of the women come from “never-married or divorced homes.” She added that Living Grace had six women on a waiting list this week. At the end of January, she said, the wait list included 19 women.
Lanaia Charleston, 20, said she came to Living Grace from a home found unsafe by Child Protective Services for her son, Sebastian.
Charleston grew up in Chicago before moving to Las Vegas. She said she found more of a family at the nonprofit than she had with her own family.
Guerra-Majano added, “If it weren’t for this place, I don’t know where I’d be.”
How to help and receive assistance
The nonprofit accepts donations at livinggracehomes.org/donate.html, and volunteer information can be found at livinggracehomes.org/volunteer.html. To view admission requirements, visit livinggracehomes.org/get-help.html.
By the numbers
Living Grace Homes was founded in 2007 to respond to the need for a maternity home in the Las Vegas Valley, Executive Director Kathleen Miller said.
“If a young woman found out she was pregnant and people said, ‘Well, you can’t live here,’ it is not much of a choice between a roof over your head and the life of your baby,” Miller said.
According to Miller, 435 women have spent all or part of their pregnancy at Living Grace Homes since 2007. Over 430 babies have been born while women were staying there and over 100 children not born at the nonprofit home have spent time there, Miller said.