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Leesa (left) and her two children were recently given household supplies through Center for Transforming Lives’ Make It Real campaign. Courtesy of Center for Transforming Lives.

For those fortunate enough to have a home and material comforts, the holidays can be a joyous time of celebration with friends and family. But for the dozens of Fort Worth mothers fleeing domestic abusers, this time of year can be especially emotional. Many of those women have spent months living without a home, hoping their exes won’t find them. Lyndsay Hoover, development director for the nonprofit Center for Transforming Lives, works to find housing for those moms.

“The stress levels seem heightened during the holidays,” she said. “These women have experienced violence, and their kids have had their lives disrupted. We step in and relieve some of that stress with case management, counseling, wrap-around services.”

While CTL has housed 76 families over the past year, staff at the nonprofit realized that some crucial needs (such as the availability of toiletries and cooking ware) were still not being met. 

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Many families move into their abodes with only a few bags of clothes and toiletries, she added. To help their new homes feel, well, homey, two weeks ago, CTL launched Make It Real. The program relies on volunteers to purchase basic supplies from three categories: kitchen, bathroom, and cleaning. A list of the donation items can be found at Transforminglives.org.

“We have moved families out of homelessness and into homes for years,” Hopper said. “The Make It Real campaign is designed to give them an extra level of support, so they aren’t living without the basic necessities to cook meals. While we can’t afford to buy these things for all these families, we can lean on our donors to pitch in.”

Hoover had her two daughters purchase kitchen supplies, which include items like dish soap, trash bags, and cooking utensils. The cost for everything on the list was around $85, she said. Once donors collect the items, CTL asks that the supplies be placed in one box and dropped off at CTL’s downtown headquarters.

“There are resources for clothing and toys” available through local charities, Hoover said. “We found there are not enough resources for the items that are just day-to-day.” 

For bathroom supplies, Hoover said there is a shortage of soaps and shampoos that cater to black women. The new program works to relieve stress on families that have already experienced severe trauma, Hoover said. 

“It’s too early to gauge how successful the program will be,” Hoover said, “but since launching, several individuals have stepped up to purchase boxes of supplies. We would like them for [all our households helped through this program] by Christmas. Our goal is to get 100 of these starter kids. We could keep a few of them on hand for families moving in. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to raise children while living in poverty. Some of these families move in with two black trash bags.”

National trends related to incidents of domestic abuse aren’t encouraging. According to the 2017 impact report released by The National Domestic Violence Hotline, last year saw a 74-percent increase in the number of callers who indicated firearms played a role in their abuse, while the nonprofit also found a 13-percent increase in the number of calls that cited the victim’s undocumented resident status as one reason complicating efforts to flee abusers. One in three women will be the victim of some type of abuse of their lifetimes, the nonprofit said. Victims can call the group’s hotline 24 hours a day at 1-800-787-7233.

Christmastime is an emotional rollercoaster for both CTL staff and the families they serve, Hopper said. While the holiday season comes with extra burdens for homeless families, this time of year brings much-needed resources to Fort Worth’s charities.

“It’s one of our favorite times of year because we have so many folks who come forward and want to help these women and children recover from poverty and homelessness,” she said.

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