Miracles on Cotton Street

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Just like in the movies, miracles do happen. Nowhere was this more evident recently than at the reopening of Providence House, a homeless shelter for families in downtown Shreveport. Tales of these miraculous events crowded the agenda and filled the air as community supporters toured the newly renovated facility.

[Photo 1: Susan and Haleigh Gunter holding their book.]
Sisters Susan and Haleigh Gunter wrote a book about being homeless.

Providence House President Simone Hennessee believes it was nothing short of a miracle when they raised almost $2 million dollars to completely renovate the 56-year-old Cotton Street facility. Built in 1948 as the Business Women's Inn, a residence for young women attending area colleges, the building had received only minor repairs since its construction.

After serving as a homeless shelter for more than ten years, the facility was in need of extensive repairs. It was something of a miracle when the renovation project came in under budget and on time. The architects were also able to reconfigure the space and increase the number of family living units from 24 to 28.

Former Providence House resident Kelly Holt recalled walking into the shelter 19 months ago with her 7-month-old son and a bag of clothes. Kelly began participating in the programs offered by Providence House and today she has a job, an apartment, and has almost completed her GED. "Now, that's a miracle," said Kelly.

[Photo 2: People gathering in front of Providence House]
Almost $2 million was raised to rennovate Providence House.
Sisters Susan and Haleigh Gunter, current residents at the shelter, chronicled their story in a book and read it to those in attendance at the re-opening. They wrote of how they were treated differently at school because their classmates knew they were homeless and how they dreamed of once again having a place to call home. When they found shelter at Providence House, they again believed in miracles.

Actually, miracles occur on a daily basis on Cotton Street as the homeless find not only shelter but also care, support, training, and encouragement from the Providence House staff. An integral member of the local continuum of care, it's not just a homeless shelter; Providence House is a residential development center providing comprehensive support services for improving the family structure and encouraging independent living.

Families are turning their lives around and breaking the cycle of homelessness. An impressive 91% of Providence House graduates maintain their independence. Thanks to the dedicated staff and effective programs administered by Providence House, miracles walk out of the door every day.

Content Archived: September 09, 2009