Opening Doors: The Nonprofit Behind the Teresa Shelter, Maria House & Francis Apartments

Opening Doors logo w Francis

Dubuque nonprofit Opening Doors aims to take care of women with no place to go while helping them to get them back on their feet.

“Opening Doors’ story started in 2000 with a homeless woman on a park bench with no place to stay,” said Ann Lorenz, development and marketing director of Opening Doors. “Since that time, we have empowered over 3,300 women and children, teaching them life skills to help them build a brighter future for their families.”

Opening Doors, which operates Teresa Shelter, Maria House, and the Francis Apartments, provides shelter and life and job skills training for women in the tri-state area. Maria House provides transitional housing for residents up to two years, while Teresa Shelter offers short-term emergency shelter services and an extended stay program.

Opening Doors opened the Francis Apartments last year to offer permanent supportive housing for graduates of Maria House and Teresa Shelter.

20180731_150606We recently went on a shopping trip to help Opening Doors stock up on one of their frequent needs: laundry soap and socks.

“We go through those items very quickly,” Lorenz said. “Our Wish List ebbs and flows – changing throughout the year, but laundry soap is like gold.”

Want to help? View their wish list here.

“Wish List donations allow us to redistribute operating funds to expand our programming to better serve our community,” Lorenz said.

Each year Opening Doors serves over 300 women and children.

Learn more about Opening Doors here.

Maria House – Baskets Of Care

myer-feet-027It’s almost time to decorate those eggs and indulge in candy – Easter is approaching quickly (April 12th) and some people may not get the opportunity to celebrate the holiday.  That’s why organizations like Maria House here in Dubuque, Iowa are starting to gather materials to build baskets.  The baskets are intended for families who receive aid from Maria House so that everyone can celebrate Easter and have fun during the Easter holiday.

Sherry McDonell who has been a member of Maria House since before it opened explained to us the way the organization works.  Sherry, who “absolutely loves working for Maria House” explains:

Maria House provides transitional housing for women with children who are in need of shelter.  Starting in 1989, women of the city council came across a grant for homeless women and women with children to provide housing.  After speaking with women in a religious order and some planning and making renovations to the building located at 1561 Jackson Street, Maria House opened in September of 2000.

Women can live at Maria House for up to two years. During that time they get supportive services and set goals so they are given the opportunity to become self-sufficient again and get back on their feet.

Runde’s donated a box full of hats, stuffed toy monkeys, bottled water, and other various items that will be going into the Easter baskets. McDonell explains that typically, when children first come into the Maria House, they are a little bashful, shy, and separated, but events like Easter help them open up and get involved. Staff and volunteers  get together a day before Easter to fill baskets. It’s a fun day, behind the scenes, where the staff (which consists of six part-time and five full-time members as well as volunteers) gets together to assemble the baskets. Since they know each child, they can individualize what goes into the baskets.

Easter is celebrated by decorating eggs which is a ” fun and messy activity” where kids from 5 months to 16-years-old participate. There is also a special meal that is provided, which the families get to choose.  This year it happens to be ham. When it comes time to eat the meal, all of the families sit down together and eat on an oak table that sits about 20 people.  The huge dinner table was donated by the monks from the monastery just south of Dubuque.

Maria House celebrates all holidays and birthdays. They aim to make it a family friendly enviornment and make every event important and special. Sponsors and donations help continue to make organizations like this exist, “We really appriciate Runde’s thinking about us” McDonell stated as she was explaining the importance of community. These organizations give people that didn’t have the opportunity to celebrate much a chance to enjoy themselves on the holidays and Runde’s is proud to be part of their community. Thank you Maria House!

Check out the Maria House Webiste here if you’re interested in making a contribution or donation.

Below is a short video walkaround of some of the community rooms in the Maria House.