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Shrinking budget threatens homeless shelter for young moms

11:48 PM, Jul 31, 2012   |    comments
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ST. PETERSBURG, Florida - Two years ago, at just 16 years old, Danielle Carter says she was a brand new mom living on the streets.

"I wasn't thinking about a future at all," recalls Carter, who is now 18.

She landed at the Alpha House of Pinellas County, a homeless shelter for new moms.

"These people help you so much to see there is a light at the end of the tunnel," says Carter. "Where you might have been in the most screwed up situation in the world, you can still fight."

Two years later, Danielle has a healthy baby girl, she's graduated from Gibbs High School, and she's now pursuing her A.A. degree in college.

"My dream job is to be an anesthesiologist."

But success stories like this one are now in jeopardy. A drought in donations, along with funding cuts, is putting the Pinellas Alpha House in jeopardy.

"Currently, we are in a deficit. It's a scary thought. We are in a crisis," says Alpha House Executive Director Jennifer Stracick.

Alpha House is currently the only program of its kind in Pinellas helping young moms like Danielle get back on their feet. "It would be heartbreaking because the girls that live here, they have nowhere to go," said Stracick.

As Danielle prepares for a bright future on her own, even she worries about future girls who were once like her, homeless moms in need. "If you cut the funds from these people, it's like not giving them a chance. They don't get a chance to know what's on the other side of that dark tunnel."

Alpha House still gets funding from the Juvenile Welfare Board and generous corporate sponsors like Costco. But state grant money that was at $45,000 three years ago is now reduced to just $14,000 this year.

The agency's main need right now is money. Alpha House has their big fundraiser coming up in September, but they're going to need some cash flow before then.

In addition, things that would help include:

- Donation of services like plumbing or air conditioning repair
- Pre-paid bus passes for the mothers 
- Gas cards for Alpha House vans
- Donations of toilet paper and other paper products

If you'd like to help, visit the Alpha House of Pinellas County website here.  You can also call 727-822-8190.

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