You may not realize it, but there are dozens of homeless women in Bay County struggling to find a way to be a productive part of society.
Daughters of Hagar began out of a local church two years ago. Since then dozens of women who have been in jail, homeless or a victim of domestic violence have made a positive change in their lives.
Kimberly Boatfield says six months ago she was a destitute woman. A series of unfortunate incidents landed her in the hospital with the state taking her son. I have had several nervous breakdowns in the span of about ten years. In 1998 I was shot and I was eight and a half months pregnant and it killed my baby. I was in an abusive relationship.
When Kimberly got out of the hospital, she had nowhere to turn. No family, no job and no money. Then she heard about Daughters of Hagar.
“We take women whether they be from homelessness, domestic violence, many of them have been incarcerated and are starting all over again. Phyllis Grier started Daughters of Hagar two years ago after an 18-year-old girl knocked on her door looking for help.”
Her father was the father of her two year old and her mother had died in an accident. She had begun to walk the streets of Harrison Avenue and there were no resources for her.
Since then that young woman has gotten her GED and entered the military that was 47 women ago, many of them coming from Corrections Corporation of America. we found an astonishing number of women who were repeaters and I would often ask them why and their stories were all the same. “Once I'm out, I can't find a job, I have no place to go, I have no resources and have no family."
Right now five women live here, with a long waiting list.
We have letters coming in on a regular basis of people waiting in line to get here. I have letters from seven women who cannot be released until they have a physical address and a place to go.
The success rate has been so high that some local judges won't release a woman from CAA unless she agrees to join the program.
"We teach them to cook, we teach them to clean, everyone has a responsibility, this is not a free ride every women is required to work every woman is required to get her GED. The women are taught budgeting skills. We have a professional counselor who is certified who actually comes in to do group sessions with the women.”
Kimberly is about to be released from the program. She has a job, a place to live and she will soon get her son back. Even though the program has been in existence for two years.. Phyllis says people still have no idea it's here.
They're in desperate need of a larger building to help more women. For more information can call Phyllis Grier at 522-1337 or e-mail HagarHouse@aol.com