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Lifeline to break ground on fourplex

By Staff | Jun 20, 2019

An organization that gives hope to homeless single mothers will expand their services and facilities next month.

Lifeline Family Center in Cape Coral, a non-profit Outreach Ministry as well as a home and learning center, will break ground in July to provide “one-of-a-kind” housing for single mothers who have graduated from its program.

Currently, the Lifeline Family Center provides up to two years of housing for 12 women ages 16-25 and up to 24 babies at a time, where mothers enroll in their “Phase I” program. The program teaches skills necessary to be successful in the real world, and offers a plethora of educational opportunities for young women who may have been abandoned by family or are having a tough time following their pregnancy.

Lifeline Family Center CEO Kathy Miller has found that many of these young women are not meeting criteria for housing after the program, despite managing a budget. This new facility would help them have a safe place while they can continue to get back on their feet.

“This is the next step in helping our moms and their children toward independence,” Miller said. “Accessible and affordable housing in a safe neighborhood is difficult to come by in Lee County. As a single parent raising young children, it is almost impossible. The availability for community housing programs is often years of waiting on a list. Even with a career, most don’t qualify for rent in a safe community.”

The new housing will provide four, two-bedroom apartments under one roof on-campus, so that mothers can continue to grow in their career path while using the day care facility in place. Mothers and children will be able to stay an additional two years after completing Phase I, if need be.

So far, Lifeline Family Center, via fundraising, has topped $400,000. Miller said they will need an additional $236,000 to complete the project debt-free.

“We’re planning on having people’s hearts touched,” said Miller of how they will come up with the rest of the funding. “I think when this community sees a need they get behind it. We are hoping people will step up with donations.”

Rent will be, Miller said, around $500 per month, or, “just what it costs to insurance and to maintain the facility.” Miller hopes mothers can use the opportunity to continue to save so that they can get out on their own two feet. If mothers can move out on their own before the two-year window, that would be encouraged, said Miller.

“This is how we can break the cycle of welfare and government dependency,” Miller said. “A successful, financially stable woman raising her family in a safe and loving environment creates a thriving community.”

The program is also going to work with Habitat for Humanity where, hopefully, Lifeline Family Center members will be able to qualify for their own home.

To enter the Phase I program, clients must: pass a drug test, not have any active felony charges, be between the ages of 16-25 and are pregnant or pregnant and parenting one child who is under the age of 2 (you must be pregnant to qualify for the residential program).

“We’re giving these women parenting skills to make a difference in their child’s life. We try to make them see the necessity of breaking the cycle,” Miller said.

Miller said that many young women graduate the program with job in a career of their choice, as the facility offers career training in The Learning Center on campus. Many members of the staff are bilingual, and the center does not discriminate in providing services based on race, color, national origin, religion or disability.

Often times members can acquire their GED, high school diploma and be placed in vocational schools. The center also offers life skill classes.

Lifeline also provides, free of charge, a 27-hour pregnancy helpline, pregnancy testing, ultrasounds, STD education, post abortion support, residential child care and an abstinence program.

Miller founded the program in 1996. Since its inception, Lifeline Family Center has served 178 women and 117 babies.

She is a 45-year Southwest Florida resident, and opened the first maternity home in Lee County 41 years ago.

“We stayed with them until they had to give birth, then we let them go,” Miller said. That was not the best solution in Miller’s eyes, so she had a vision of a non-traditional maternity home that turned into Lifetime Family Center.

“We built the current facility from scratch,” Miller said.

Miller hopes that local businesses will be able to pitch in, and is even eyeing a church for sale adjacent to the current facilities that could be a great asset to their operation — if someone is generous enough, she said.

“We’re always looking to expand to help more women,” Miller said. “I’ve seen the community rise to the occasion. We have companies donating windows, doors, and it would be great to see more community members help out.”

For more information and to donate, visit www.LifelineFamilyCenter.org or call 239-242-7238.

LifeLine Family Center is at 907 S.E. 5th Avenue.

-Connect with this reporter on Twitter: @haddad_cj