RALEIGH, N.C. -- “It’s like, this is heaven,” said Anna Cobb. She’s describing the Women’s Center of Wake County. She calls it paradise for women who are out on the streets.
“They go to shelters that are barren. They're out on the streets at the bus station with nothing to do during the day and they come here and walk in that door and not only are the people open and friendly and non-judgmental, with open arms, come on in.”
Cobb knows, because she, too, was homeless.
"The Women's Center saved my life. I would be dead, honestly, if it hadn't been for the Women's Center."
Cobb turned to the Women’s Center 18 years ago, helping her overcome her battle with drugs, mental illness and gambling. She’s now a volunteer and has seen lots of changes in the past year.
“They have transformed this place into where you come in and you're comfortable and it makes you happy,” explained Cobb. “When I came, it wasn't like this."
The leader of the transformation is Brace Boone, our Everyday Hero. He took over as Executive Director a little more than a year ago and started making changes.
“We were open 9 to 3:30, only Monday through Friday, closed weekends, closed holidays. Even December 22 through January 2we were closed,” said Boone. “So some real head scratchers. Homelessness is all day, every day, 365 days a year.”
Now they’re open seven days a week and serve breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“We did more meals in the past year than we did in the previous five years combined,” said Boone. "The meals when I was here are nothing like they were when I was here,” explained Cobb.
They also gave the inside a makeover. Women have access to hygiene items, a clothing closet and they've added more programs to help women get back on their feet.
“I can see a big difference from where we were, to where we are now," said Tameka Douglas, the director of Intake and Assessments and Client Data. “The ladies seem happier, they’re more encouraged, they want to go out and work, they want to go try and find housing. It’s not just a place where they’ll hang out. You can see that they got that glimmer of hope in their eyes.”
That glimmer of hope is what Boone says pushes him, which is why he gives all the credit to the women, like Cobb, who they serve every day.
“Our women are much bigger heroes than I am,” said Boone. “I see the resilience and the tenacity and their ability to put one foot in front of the other and go forward every day. I get much more from our women, our clients, our guests, our friends who come here than I could ever give back to them.”
Their goal is to operate 24/7. They're also launching a community garden in April.
The Women's Center is also looking for community partners, volunteers and donations -- both clothing and money.
For information on how you can get involved, click here.