By Beth Shumate, TSB Contributing Writer
Kelley and Bob Burgess wanted to help single moms in need. After much research, many volunteers and volunteer hours, and securing the perfect piece of property, their dream was realized with the summer opening of McKinney’s Shiloh Place. The program for young single moms welcomed its second family this week.
McKinney’s Shiloh Place, a community for single moms with small children, will ultimately be home to a maximum of six families, with new ones moving in as renovation is completed on each unit. All of the units in this Waddill Street property will be fully furnished with all that the residents will need to get back on their feet. Residents are eligible to stay for up to two years.
“The question that drove us was: how do you help a person in a way that honors them, allows them to maintain their dignity and lifts them up to be all that God created them to be?” Kelley said.
Bob was a deacon and in charge of the Outreach program at the Burgess’s church, and Kelley was a volunteer at the Hope Resource Center, a crisis pregnancy program. While they enjoyed helping those in needed, they both wanted to do more than give someone a one-time hand-out.
“Bob was struggling with how they were just able to touch people at one moment, give them a check or assistance, and then they’d be gone. Every night, we would have the conversation, we would ask ourselves ‘what’s a better way to make a difference?” Kelly said.
The lack of housing seemed to be a recurring theme for the families with whom the Burgesses dealt. Of those seeking help, young single moms seemed to the Burgesses to be the ones needing the most assistance. In fact, the Shiloh Place website quotes these figures about young single mom households:
· 67% of Collin County single moms have children under the age of 18 and 67% of these single moms live below the poverty line.
· 20% of single moms in Collin County have less than a high school education. A low level of parental education is another key contributing factor for being low income.
“We were just drawn to single moms, so we started to research. When my husband traveled, he’d Google other facilities in the country helping single moms and go visit them,” Kelley said.
The organization that really hit home for the Burgesses was in Midland, a home that perfectly aligned with the vision the Burgesses had for what they wanted to do in McKinney.
“They had been doing it for 15 years. They’ve have been tremendously gracious to us, letting us model ourselves after them and then running with it! We just prayed and things started to happen,” Kelley said.
The Burgesses named their program Shiloh Place after Shiloh in the Bible’s Old Testament, which was a place of rest and refuge. They then seated a Board and began involving volunteers to help make it happen. The next crucial step was to find a location to house the families.
“We started with an idea to just lease a home but then we struggled with whether to buy a commercial building and convert it,” Kelley said.
A friend of the Burgesses drove by a property last summer and thought it would be perfect. But there was one drawback: it wasn’t available. Then in the fall, he gave them a call with good news.
“He said, ‘Remember that property? Well, there’s a For Sale sign there now,’” Kelley said, adding that by the end of December last year, the property was theirs. “It’s near the downtown area, which I love, and it just had it all. But it needed a lot of work.”
The Burgesses went to McKinney’s Christ Fellowship Church on a suggestion from Larry Robinson, Executive Director of 3E, which partners with churches and other volunteers on service projects throughout the area. Volunteers from that and several other area churches flocked to the property this past spring and summer to do yard work, painting, wiring, structural renovations, and other repairs. Throughout the renovation process, more than 100 volunteers worked to prepare the property for its first residents, who moved in earlier this fall.
Through connections at the church, the Burgesses also found Kristin Mycke who joined the organization as its director in Summer 2012.
“I have been busy developing the program,” Kristin said, explaining that all the residents must meet certain criteria to be considered for acceptance into the program. “They must be at least 20, be mature and motivated, not have current issues such as domestic violence, drug or alcohol use, and have one or two kids up to the age of 10. They also should have a high school diploma or GED, a valid drivers license, a car, and be motivated to complete some type of certification program like those offered at Collin College, something that will lead to employment that will generate a living wage.”
The interview process takes approximately a month to complete with applicants coming to Shiloh Place from the website, referrals from partner groups like The Samaritan Inn, the faith-based Family Promise, North Texas maternity homes, and churches. Once selected for the program, a single mom will receive a fully-furnished, one-bedroom apartment with all utilities paid for up to two years.
“Each woman will receive mentoring, life and job skills training, spiritual development and a community to walk alongside her, to train her and get her ready to be self-sufficient,” Kristin said. “We’re going to need volunteers to work with them, and we’ll need businesses willing to give these women job training opportunities as well as churches to welcome them into their church family.”
Individuals and groups wishing to volunteer may call 469-534-9407 or fill out the contact form on the organization’s website, www.shilohplacemckinney.org. Those wishing to donate money or items to the cause will also find information on this site.
Photos courtesy of Shiloh Place
Top photo: Shiloh Place
Second photo: Many volunteers, including area kids, worked on getting Shiloh Place ready to open.