A Family Affair
The New Orleans Women & Children’s Shelter needs your company’s help to keep families off the streets.
Imagine a small 3-year-old girl full of hope and endless possibilities. Now, imagine that same child, due to hard luck and unforeseen circumstances, sleeping in a car and living on the streets of New Orleans.
Statistics show she’ll be sick at twice the rate of other children and go hungry twice as often. She won’t have any privacy and scarcely any creature comforts. She won’t have a warm bed to dream in, a favorite chair to read in or a corner to feel safe in. Her family’s daily routines, will be nearly impossible to maintain.
Not surprisingly, the emotional problems of homeless children often impede learning: They have twice the rate of learning disabilities and experience mental issues more often than non-homeless children.
The New Orleans Women and Children’s Shelter (NOWCS), now in its 12th year of service, has served more than 2,500 homeless adults and children.
To meet the needs of vulnerable people in our community, NOWCS has a 21-person staff, two buildings with a combined 6,310-square-feet of space. It is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and consistently operates at 90 percent capacity or higher.
The organization traces its beginning to a simple women’s facility that opened immediately after Hurricane Katrina. When funding for that temporary facility ran out, Jackie Silverman and her husband, Dan, founded the New Orleans Women’s Shelter to provide a place for mothers with young children to go.
NOWCS focuses on breaking the cycle of homelessness and keeping homeless families from returning to the streets. It provides a continuum of safe shelter, personalized case management, wraparound services and aftercare to homeless families – all at no cost to those they serve.
“Our family parents are all loving and supportive and are really trying so hard,” says Melissa Tyler, NOWCS’ development director. “It’s debilitating for them not to be able to provide for their kids. As a mom, I feel connected to that. I know what hopes and dreams we all have for our children and how much we want to give that to them. I can’t imagine not being able to do that for my own daughter.”
Tyler wants the community to know that NOWCS is a shelter for homeless families of any configuration. She thinks when people hear women’s shelter, they just automatically assume NOWCS is a domestic violence shelter. However, NOWCS serves single parents with children, grandparents with grandchildren, expectant mothers, single father-led families, people with disabilities and the elderly.
“We once took in two sisters in their 70s,” Tyler said. “They had been living in their car for more than two years. We have helped homeless families with as many as 12 children and mothers with newborns. You never know what people are going through. Many of our clients are homeless for the first time in their lives. Homeless families are an unfortunate niche; these are not going to be the people you see panhandling under the bridge.”
What Companies Can Do To Help
• Host a collection drive.
• Current needs include cleaning supplies, gift cards, professional clothing, school supplies, winter coats and toys.
• Sign up as a sponsor for “There’s No Place Like Home,” a dinner and silent auction featuring live entertainment by Bag of Donuts set for March 19. This event generates critical funds for the shelter’s transitional homeless shelter operations and program support.
• Invite NOWCS to speak to employees or take a tour of the organization’s facilities to help spread awareness.
• Get hands-on. Create a team to help with a landscaping project, repair some bikes or build a few bookshelves. All ideas are welcome.
• For all giving opportunities, please contact Melissa Tyler, development director, at
(504) 522-9340 ext. 206, firstname.lastname@example.org.
To enable families to transition from a life of homelessness and poverty to one of stability and self-sufficiency.
2020 S. Liberty St.
NOWCS currently has 50+ collaborators, including organizations like Dress For Success, NOWCS Outreach Program with LSU Health Sciences Center, Strive and Delgado Community College.
Did You Know?
Of the 130 various family members who are homeless every night in New Orleans, half are children.
Source: January 2019 Point-in-Time counts conducted by UNITY of Greater New Orleans
More Than a Place to Stay
NOWCS Programming is designed to benefit every aspect of work and family life, from education and employment to parenting and planning ahead.
In addition to shelter, NOWCS provides:
Case management for parents and children;
Adult educational assistance;
Children’s educational and cultural enrichment programs;
Financial literacy training; and
Life skills training.