STUART – Compassion House is a transitional shelter whose purpose is to lift its residents out of homelessness and into stable housing. The facility, operated by the Salvation Army of Martin County, opened its doors to homeless women and children five years ago and has had a waitlist ever since.
The vision of Compassion House developed over ten years ago, when then-Sheriff Robert Crowder spoke at a meeting of the Salvation Army’s Advisory Board about the growing concern over the women and children his officers would find living in the woods and in cars at night. The Army’s Women’s Auxiliary took up the cause and started a fund-raising campaign to develop and build a shelter. When the former Department of Children and Families property became available on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. in East Stuart, the decision was made to create a shelter there, along with the Salvation Army’s new offices and chapel.
Compassion House welcomes women, with or without children, who have fallen into homelessness and are eager to work to regain self-sufficiency. More than just a shelter, it offers one-on-one weekly counseling sessions designed to help its residents examine their history and habits and develop goals to overcome any obstacles they may have to achieve self-sufficiency. Staff members offer support and utilize local resources to help the women obtain whatever it is they may need, whether it’s affordable childcare, mental health counseling, GED training, debt counseling or, perhaps, pursing a college degree.
“Every woman who comes in our shelter has different issues and reasons for homelessness,” Captain Christine Kim, Corps Officer for the Salvation Army, said. “We try our best to find resources to meet their individual needs and teach them how to find resources when they leave us.”
Finding affordable housing for its residents remains an issue. The Army’s next goal is to create apartments into which its residents can transition.
“That’s our next step,” Kim said. “It’s just too difficult for a person earning minimum wage to find housing. We hope to give them a little more time to get the tools they need to earn a better income.”
Since opening in 2012, Compassion House has sheltered over 250 women and children. To celebrate its success, the Salvation Army is offering an open house at the shelter on Monday, March 6, from 11 am to 1 pm. The public is invited to attend. For more information about the Salvation Army of Martin County and Compassion House, please call 772-288-1471 or visit salvationarmyflorida.org/martincounty.