PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - A Phoenix woman is raising money to found a new women's shelter. It comes after Shante Saulsberry saw a woman who appeared to be homeless sitting at a bus stop last year near the corner of Ray Road and 50th Street in Ahwatukee.
"And I decided, 'Well, I'm going to get that lady breakfast,'" Saulsberry said. That began a routine where Saulsberry would pick up a meal for the woman named Janice at a nearby Chick-Fil-A. "And I was just thinking to myself, 'That used to be my mom,'" Saulsberry said.
That's because Saulsberry and her mom used to be homeless, too. They were in and out of shelters in the San Diego area. "It's very stressful not having anyone in your corner. It's very stressful when you feel like you're out here on your own," said Saulsberry.
Saulsberry tried getting Janice into a shelter but couldn't find her a bed. "I got her like some clothes, a medical kit because she had a few medical concerns. I got her some food, of course, and I just said, 'You know, if you need me, I'm gonna keep checking on you.' So as it got cold, she walked away."
And even though Saulsberry lost touch with the woman, her interactions with Janice inspired her to do more. "So I decided to open up Janice's Women's Center and name it after the woman I seeked [sic] to help," Saulsberry said.
Saulsberry is currently raising money for the project, which will include 52 tiny homes for women and their children made out of repurposed shipping containers. There will also be a 10,000 to 12,000 square foot center with different amenities.
"It will have office spaces, nurse triage rooms, day rooms, a big kitchen with cafeteria," sad Erica Storck, the founder and CEO of CrownLane Designs & Construction Management, which is helping Saulsberry with the project.
There are also plans to provide programming for the women, including therapy. "Being a part of this and helping women is a big deal for me. I am very much about helping the community and women especially, so it's a perfect fit and I'm really excited to see it come to life," Storck said.
Saulsberry is looking for a location in Mesa and is hoping the project can be completed by year's end. "I needed to do it for my mom. I needed to do it for other young ladies," Saulsberry said. You can go here to learn more about Janice's Women's Center and the goals for the women's shelter.