MEMPHIS, Tenn. — As the cold weather moves into the Mid-South, local homeless shelters are looking for help to make sure those in need stay warm this winter. And they need the public’s help.
“MERGE Memphis is a nonprofit and we’ve been around since 2014. We have Clair’s House which is a 30-bed shelter for single women,” said Executive Director Sherry McClure. “And then we have Cleveland House, which can house up to eight women. We have seven there now. We also have a new social enterprise we are trying to introduce call Dandelion Farm Products.”
“For me it’s been wonderful. Because I was homeless, and I was living in my car. I had absolutely nowhere to go and no money. I was just blessed to find this place,” said Debra Ballard, a resident at Clair’s House.
“The goal for the women at Clair’s House is that they will eventually be out within 18 to 24 months and be self-sufficient on their own in a productive society,” said McClure.
Cleveland House is for the women who are nearing their independence. The residents are all working and have completed the programs at Clair’s House.
“We try to take things like clothing, food, and shelter out of their daily worries. We believe that if you provide those basic things for the client, then they’re able to move forward,” said McClure.
And the Dandelion Farm Products enterprise provides something more.
“Our goal for that is to be able to help the ladies with an income stream,” said McClure. “They are making artesian homemade soaps and they are also doing beading with glass beads and making jewelry.”
“We just make them for fun, and we’ve just really enjoyed it. It gives us something to do. It’s very relaxing,” said Ballard.
But MERGE Memphis can’t do all it wants to help, without the aid of volunteers. They need volunteers to teach life skill classes, make dinners, do food prep, gardening help, and with monetary donations. Groups are also welcome.
“It’s so satisfying volunteering at Clair’s House. Because I can make a difference. I love when I can watch a woman succeed,” said Pamela Tiffany, a volunteer at Clair’s House.
“We are just blessed. When I get through getting back up on my feet, I am going to volunteer,” said Catherine Camfield, a resident at Clair’s House.
They need the public’s help as well with donations, especially winter coats, jackets, hats, gloves, and scarves.
MERGE Memphis has two fundraisers coming up – a chili cook-off Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, at Crosstown Brewery. It runs from noon to 3:30 p.m. Then on Dec. 3, there’s a murder mystery dinner at the Junior League of Memphis. Tickets go on sale Nov. 1 at https://901tix.com/.