Fresno's Spirit of Woman is getting a million dollar grant

FRESNO, Calif.

Hundreds of mothers and their children have been coming to Spirit of Woman for help and healing since 2000. The Central Fresno facility is a safe haven from their former chaotic lives of drug and alcohol abuse.

Although the residents find comfort here, the facility has seen better days. The facility was built in 1939. It was Fresno's first "Motor Court" hotel. It still has all the original electrical wiring and plumbing.

For the last five years Spirit of Woman has applied for various grants to upgrade its facilities. But Wednesday Executive Director Audrey Riley got word the California Department of Housing and Community Development had awarded them $1 million for new construction.

Riley says Spirit of Woman had proposed a plan that would provide apartment style living for as many as 60 women and their children.

Riley said, "We would like to have all of our women in a single living space so we could do teaching and parenting adequately, food shopping, cooking."

Word of the million dollar renovation spread quickly among the women.

Resident Kary Chilson had this reaction, "I had no idea! Wow! That means... Wow! What a blessing!"

Former resident and current employee Vivian Diaz had this to say, "This program changed my life. I came here with two of my children. Because of this program I've been able to re-unify with all of my children and have all of them in my life now... which I didn't have before. So, it's a blessing for me."

The new facility will not only have apartment homes for the women, but an entire building just for children's activities plus an outdoor playground.

Audrey Riley said, "They need to have hope and expectation... and I hope we as a staff can expose them to that."

Construction on the nearly four acre property will begin early next year.

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