The following was written and submitted by Inez Thomas.
In 2004, Kristen Schunk Moreland heard a story on the radio that seems all too common now: Homelessness and teen pregnancy in Indiana were increasing, while at the same time, resources and services were not.
However, this time, there was actual hope at the end of this particular piece. An organization in another state had opened a “home” to provide basic resources like education, healthcare, and parenting skills for pregnant teens.
The story moved Kristen deeply, and would become the seed for a beautiful idea. One that would lead young, pregnant and parenting women with nowhere to go, through the trials in their lives allowing them to triumph over their circumstances.
She decided to do some research of her own: What about Indianapolis? Were some of these basic needs being met for young women who find themselves pregnant or parenting and homeless? Kristen found that the story here, in Indianapolis, looked remarkably similar to the city the NPR story profiled – a void of resources in a community that desperately needed them.
At the time, Indianapolis had no residential facilities or shelters for young women under the age of 18 who had children. She shared this story and her research with three of her closest friends – Lakshmi Hasanadka, Christina Koennecke, and Chris Collins. They, too, were disappointed by the results. After some thought, the four of them decided to take matters into their own hands. They would open their own “home” for pregnant, parenting, and homeless young mothers of Indianapolis.
Some founding members of Project Home Indy paused for a photo at a recent fundraiser. From left to right: Lakshmi Hasanadka, Christine Koennecke, and Kristen Schunk Moreland.
It quickly became clear that this would not be an easy or quick project, but, working tirelessly on fulfilling the needs of young women they had not even met, the four friends became the founders of Project Home Indy.
Several years of monthly meetings, which included assessments, strategic planning, numerous interviews with providers and other community partners produced encouraging results.
Meeting twice monthly for several years thereafter, assessments were conducted, strategic plans drafted, and a dedicated board of healthcare, human services, and legal professionals was developed.
Also during that time, Frank Hagaman from Partners in Housing – another friend who lent his professional advice and boundless energy – became instrumental in connecting Project Home Indy with its future housing partner, Trinity Episcopal Church.
Trinity had a property on its campus that needed renovation and a good cause to go with it, and Project Home Indy saw it as a perfect partnership.
After thoughtful planning, fundraisers, and extensive work uncovering the nitty-gritty regulations and codes – the stuff that really makes a home for moms and kids work – on October 1, 2011, the house finally became the home that its founders dreamed of many years before.
Two young women, one pregnant and one with an infant, arrived at Project Home Indy making I their new home. The founders and staff were ready with open arms, swift dedication to the cause, and a belief that if given the right resources, these women could achieve whatever dreams and goals they chose.
Since then, Project Home Indy has been a nurturing and stable home for over a dozen young mothers and their children. It has become a “home” for young women in their time of need, working through their trials, and allowing them to triumph.
To see how you can help provide resources for our young women, please visit: http://www.projecthomeindy.org/wish-list/.