LOUISVILLE, Ky. — It started to serve a need so many in our community had. United Partners for Women and Children, or UP, is the city's first women's only shelter, and it's seen a ton of success since it opened last July in the basement of a downtown Louisville church.
"It was my safe haven. I felt the safest here,” UP member Trudy Ternig said. "You make good friends here, lifelong friends. Not only do the caseworkers support us, but we support each other emotionally and everything else we need."
"We have quite a lot of support that we've gotten, and it's been really heartwarming,” UP Co-Founder & Executive Director Andrea Scott said. "We thought maybe in our first year, we'd serve about 200 women and children. We served that need within the first five months of operating."
"Trauma is the real gateway drug. Most of the women we interact with, more than 90 percent, have experienced some form of trauma in either adulthood, childhood, or both. It's a huge impact on how they navigate the system, on how they navigate day to day, how to survive on the streets, and in shelter,” UP Co-Founder & Executive Director Amy Meredith said. "Women didn't have a women's only space, and with all that trauma, that's what they need."
Since UP started, it's been nonstop support. From coffee to computers to case management, the nonprofit knows how to serve.
"You name it. It's here,” Ternig said. The numbers speak for themselves:
439 women and children
1,162 loads of laundry
498 pots of coffee
"Through those community partnerships and our advocacy, we've been able to help 139 of our individuals into safe housing. We've been able to return 13 of our members to loved ones at home,” Scott said.
That success has UP bursting at the seams.
"Here, we're able to turn at least 12 showers a day and 8 loads of laundry, but if we could triple those utilities, then we could provide a lot more services,” Meredith said. "We really are looking for the next level. We offer a lot of provider services here from medical to mental health to legal aid, and we really need more confidential space. We'd love to have a day room for the single women and one for women with children because they have varying needs.
It’s something UP and its women would welcome with open arms.
"We're off the streets five hours a day for three days a week. We'd like to have it more than that,” Ternig said.
"Our hearts are full. Our basement is full. We really want to just focus on spreading awareness about our work so that we can get to the next step with a bigger space,” Meredith said.
UP is currently looking for a different location with more room. Right now, the shelter is open Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from 9 to 1. If it can move to a bigger spot, it plans to increase those hours.
The nonprofit is also getting ready to host its first inaugural fundraiser. It's Saturday, August 24 from 6:00-10:00 p.m. at Actors Theatre. Tickets start at $40. Click here for event details.