One of the first calls Jeremiah’s Place received was from a mom who escaped domestic violence but couldn’t keep her kids at the shelter while working. She didn’t want to take them to their established daycare for fear that the violent partner would come for them, says Eileen Sharbaugh, co-founder and director of volunteer services for Jeremiah’s Place.
While providing short-term daycare for the children, Jeremiah’s Place also helped find a long-term solution. “We connected the mom who had escaped domestic violence with a transitional housing organization and identified alternative childcare options for her son,” says Sharbaugh.
That’s the mission of the “crisis nursery” that’s there for children and families during times of crisis, such as a death or illness in a family, bouts with mental illness, homelessness, domestic violence, divorce—any time when there is no other option for safe, short-term childcare.
On Tuesday, January 26th, Jeremiah’s Place was provided much-needed financial support when it was given the quarterly “Impact Award” by 100 Women Who Care Pittsburgh. The group, founded in June 2015, meets every three months to hear pitches from local non-profit organizations who pitch on the spot if their names are chosen from paper slips in a glass bowl.
At the meetings, each member donates $100, and the money is pooled into one donation for that quarter’s Impact Award. This meeting grossed $8,200 with more money possible from those who couldn’t make it (but can still donate online).
This “collective giving” model allows smaller donations to add up to bigger impact. Sharbaugh says she couldn’t overstate the importance of the award to her organization.
“The recognition was huge,” says Sharbaugh, who made an eloquent and convincing pitch. “The idea that people were able to hear and respond to the message of bringing this type of service to Pittsburgh and the importance of it was so meaningful.”
Jeremiah’s Place, located in the Kingsley Center in East Liberty, is available to serve children ages birth through six with free care 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is staffed at all times with trauma-informed caregivers and social workers. It’s the Pittsburgh area’s first crisis nursery, and since opening in April 2014 they’ve helped more than 300 children from 200 families, many of whom have needed to return more than once.
While short-term crisis care is the primary function of Jeremiah’s Place, providing a safe, nurturing, stable environment for children, their services reach well beyond. The staff provides service coordination to help families resolve and move past their crises by referring them to more than 50 outside agencies. These agencies help families find reliable childcare, gain permanent housing, get employment assistance, and find help for mental and physical health issues.
Courtesy Jeremiah’s Place
Families come to her from a variety of difficult circumstances, Sharbaugh says. “A pregnant mother called us when she went into labor. She was new to the region and her husband had just been deployed to Afghanistan. She had no one to watch her 19-month-old,” she says. “We worked with the grandmother of two young boys who were in her custody. She was in ailing health and the boys had significant, but unsupported mental health issues and intellectual disabilities. We were able to connect her with numerous organizations that allowed her to care for her health and support the boys both in school and at home with much-needed services.”
Sharbaugh says Jeremiah’s Place, and the families they serve, are fortunate to be in a region where so much help is available. “Pittsburgh has a lot of great resources and getting families connected to those other providers helps to bring stability to their situation.” The stability strengthens families and helps them stay intact, she says, adding that this, in turn, can transform communities.
Sharbaugh is hoping for more financial support this month from a combination movie screening/concert fundraiser on Saturday, February 20th at the Hollywood Theater in Dormont. Same Circus, Different Town is a “rockumentary” about Pittsburgh’s own Damaged Pies, an alternative band founded in 1987 that has played venues ranging from New York’s legendary CBGB, L.A.’s Whiskey a Go Go, Liverpool’s Cavern, and the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The screening starts at noon and will be followed by a performance by Heidi Jacobs and the Damaged Pies themselves. The afternoon will also include an art show and auction, and all proceeds from the event benefit Jeremiah’s Place.
Tickets for the Same Circus, Different Town fundraiser are $6 in advance, $8 at the door. For advance tickets or to ask about volunteering or donating, email Eileen Sharbaugh at volunteer [at] jeremiahsplace [dot] org.