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Sarah Jensen

Sanctuary Women's Development Center Offers New Level of Hope to Those in Need in Cleveland County

Jul 31, 2014
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NORMAN, Okla.- The Sanctuary Women's Development Center in Norman is set to open its doors this Saturday to the public for an event aimed at helping to community better understand the center's services and the success it has had in the three short months since its opening. 

"I have come to call this my second home," said Chelette Franklin. 

Just over three months ago, Chelette Franklin found herself at rock bottom.

"I was an emotional wreck when I decided to leave my kid's father of 13 years and 10 years of abuse," said Franklin. "I decided to take off with the kids. I didn't know what I was doing, something inside just said go. I thought that I was coming into a better situation here in Oklahoma, but it was not."

Franklin was homeless, and in dire need of support for both herself and her 4 children. A simple phone call led her to the Sanctuary Women's Development Center at 1100 N. Porter Avenue in Norman that serves all of Cleveland County. She was there waiting when they opened the doors for the first, and became their first client. 

"It has not been easy. It has been very hard," said Franklin. "However, every day that I came here it was like having an 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. job. The only difference was I had support and ladies that wanted me to succeed as much as I wanted to succeed."

Each day, women follow in the footsteps of Franklin as they walk through the doors of the Sanctuary into a safe place. Inside their needs take the lead on their journey to overcoming their current situation. 

"We want to make sure that first and foremost they are treated with dignity and respect," said Lisa Chamberlain Director of Homeless Services. "We want to meet them where they are at without judgement."

While overnight shelters provide a safe place to sleep, the Sanctuary steps in to facilitate the needs of homeless women during the day. The center provides a wide array of services including laundry, computers with internet access, a place to shower, and a place to rest. 

"We also have case management," said Asst. Director Kristin Mumiukha. "We help them to set goals, and then help them to see past their current situation."

This Saturday, August 2 from 6:30 p.m to 8:30 p.m. the Sanctuary is opening its doors to the public for a free event that will provide an inside look at all the facility has to offer. The friendraiser is called Crimson Cocktails, and is part of an awareness campaign aimed at educating the community of the center's services with facility tours and firsthand accounts from women who have benefited from its services.

"It is difficult to understand what this facility offers to the community and to the people until you actually walk through the door," said Event Chair Mary Pointer Blankenship. 

For Chelette Franklin and so many of the other women, the Sanctuary is a safe place that is changing their life by providing them with hope, trust and a path towards success at a time in their life when it seems impossible.

"I have only been here 3 and a half months, but look how far I have come," said Franklin. "I have a house, a job and beautiful kids that are healthy and happy."

For more information on the Sanctuary Women's Development Center, go to http://catholiccharitiesok.org/sanctuary


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