Las Vegas women’s shelter starts fundraiser to revive transitional housing program

Updated August 24, 2017 - 7:14 pm

The Shade Tree women’s shelter kicked off a fundraising push Thursday to revive its transitional housing program, slated for suspension next week.

A funding squeeze is forcing The Shade Tree on Aug. 31 to suspend its 160-bed transitional program until the nonprofit can raise $2.3 million, the estimated cost of running that program for a year.

“It’s not going away forever, but until we’re able to sustain it with private philanthropy,” The Shade Tree Executive Director Stacey Lockhart said.

The transitional program is a respite for women for up to a year. Some are single, some arrive with their children, and pets, who stay next door in Noah’s Animal’s House.

Come September, homeless women and those escaping domestic violence, can stay at the Shade Tree for up to 90 days in the emergency shelter.

The Shade Tree officially kicked off its large-scale fundraising drive with the scissor snip of a pink ribbon on Thursday, but donations and support have been pouring in since the news of the closure went public earlier this month.

One woman drove over an envelope with $1,000 in cash, someone else gifted the shelter with Apple stock, and checks from $25 to $500 have arrived in the mail since people heard the transitional program was closing, Lockhart said.

Inside the shelter

Some women in the transitional program have pets — dogs, cats and guinea pigs — and have struggled to find places to live that will take them because of weight or breed restrictions for dogs, Shade Tree staff members said.

The emergency shelter living areas have a dorm for single women and family dorms. Boys older than 13 stay in a separate dorm. The dense bunk beds sat empty Thursday morning, but evidence of their occupants was everywhere, from a Barbie backpack to a stack of Rolling Stone and Us Weekly magazines.

A couple of beds sit empty near the door in the family dorm. Dubbed “Metro” beds, they’re kept that way in case a new family is whisked by police to the shelter during the night, volunteer coordinator Marian Thomas said.

A Walt Whitman quote is painted on the other side of the wall.

“Keep your face always toward the sunshine and the shadows will fall behind you.”

Support from neighbor

The Owens Avenue shelter sits at the border of North Las Vegas and Las Vegas in an area known as the “Corridor of Hope,” where shelters and social service agencies are clustered.

Nevada consistently ranks as one of the worst states for domestic violence. In the valley, other providers such as Safe Nest and Safe House in Henderson shelter women who are fleeing abusive partners.

“North Las Vegas and myself are here to help and spread the word,” North Las Vegas City Councilman Richard Cherchio said. “We’ll be making our contributions as well.”

Contact Jamie Munks at jmunks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0340. Follow @JamieMunksRJ on Twitter.

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