Let Our Beginnings Inspire You!
In late 2014 a friend mentioned to Charlotta (Lotta) Sjoelin that the local homeless shelter for women and children in Chapel Hill, HomeStart, could use some pillows. Shocked a shelter would not have pillows, she visited with pillows in tow to donate, and was even more shocked to see the bleak condition of the shelter. A homeless shelter is supposed to be a place to transform one’s life, yet the physical environment Lotta saw was depressing, not inspiring. Deeply saddened by the living conditions available for the homeless, she went home and cried… then got to work! Emotion and action combined are powerful tools.
An interior designer by trade, Lotta had a vision of transformed rooms that would create safe, dignified and inspiring living spaces for the residents. Teaming up with the non-profit that ran HomeStart to act as a fiscal agent and accept donations, the Inter-Faith Council, Lotta began asking friends and others to ‘Donate A Room’ by pledging only $500.00 to transform a bedroom. Adding to that monies she raised from explaining the conditions to businesses such as Lowe’s, World Market, IKEA, Sherwin Williams, and other big names, she began redoing one room at a time.
Not surprisingly the enthusiasm and support grew! Lotta tirelessly told anyone who would listen about the needs of the shelter, and like her, people were genuinely surprised by the need and wanted to help. Larger donations for common living rooms and children’s play spaces inside and out, gardens, etc. came in, as did donations of time of people volunteering their time to do the work. In addition to individual involvement, organizations also volunteered money and time such as churches, schools, sororities, and businesses. Clearly a movement was afoot…
What began as ‘Donate a Room’ in 2014 to support HomeStart, the only women and children’s shelter in Chapel Hill, NC, in 2015 the name changed to “A Lotta Love” as the organization grew and people were donating more than a room. A perfect name for the group, A Lotta Love honors the founder, Lotta, as well as describes the motivation driving all those who so generously get involved. Love is a powerful agent of change.
A Lotta Love and IFC
Many people living in our society are not even aware that there are Women and Children Homeless shelters in our beautiful towns. In 2015, NCCEH estimated over
10,000 homeless people in our state of NC alone. Thousands of children are homeless – unfortunately an increasing number. In Wake County alone there are 2600 homeless children! Most shelters are run without Federal funding and they are kept open by private donations alone.
A Lotta Love, from the beginning called Donate a Room, started in 2014 to support HomeStart, the only Women and children shelter in Chapel Hill, Orange County NC. Homestart is run by the Inter-Faith Council, a social service organization that also runs the men’s shelter in Chapel Hill as well as a Food Pantry. It services Orange county since 1963. While necessities such as shelter, meals and health services are met there’s simply not any funds for any furnishings beyond the basics.
A Lotta Love’s mission is to empower women and their children to reclaim their pride while living in this temporary environment. With your help, we can breathe life into these sterile rooms and give them “a home away from home”. We design rooms especially for the families and when they leave, they bring their rooms with them.
That’s why we need your continuous support.
We are reaching out to shelters all over NC. Another of our goals is to raise awareness about homelessness by reaching out to Schools. Universities, Companies, Congregations and citizens. We want to spread circles on the water and inspire others to start chapters of A Lotta Love.
We collaborate with IFC to change one shelter at a time. Currently we are working with the following Shelters; Homestart Chapel Hill, Families Moving Forward Durham, The Wrenn House Raleigh and Interact Raleigh.
For more information about IFC (our fiscal agent), please visit the IFC website: www.ifcweb.org.