NBC 6 and Telemundo 51 have been helping local nonprofits create positive change here in South Florida. Project Innovation grants were awarded to programs addressing community issues in innovative ways.
This year, Lotus House won a $50,000 grant. Its founder, Constance Collins, spoke to NBC 6 anchor Sheli Muñiz.
SHELI: Lotus House helps hundreds of women and children who might be experiencing homelessness, tell us more about your mission?
COLLINS: Lotus House is intended to provide a sanctuary for women who are fleeing domestic violence or experiencing homelessness for other reasons. Of course, they have many children with them. Last year, we were able to shelter over 1,100 women and children and our goal is to give them an opportunity to heal, to access tools and resources, educational opportunities, vocational training, healthcare, all the things that any one of us would need to get back on our feet and build a foundation for safer, brighter lives.
SHELI: We've seen domestic violence rates, unfortunately, increasing with the shelter-in-place and with COVID-19. How does that change the demand for you all?
COLLINS: Honestly, we have women streaming through our doors every day. I think the challenge for so many is that because employment is down, because our community and businesses, so many are closed, it's making it more challenging for women and children to actually get back on their feet and from us, so we're seeing a bottleneck in terms of the demand.
SHELI: And what do this $50,000 grant do for your organization?
COLLINS: Well, first of all, thank you so much. It's lifesaving and life-changing for the women and children that we shelter, and the grant is intended to support our job readiness training program, employment assistance, resume preparation, interview practicing, work etiquette, the culinary program that we have, the retail job readiness program, and many other pathways to greater self-sufficiency.