High Point shelter offers support, refuge to women in need

HIGH POINT, N.C. -- Arlene Williams has a lot of memories at Leslie’s House, an emergency shelter in High Point for women without dependents. For three months, she called the shelter “home.”

“When I first came in, I felt like a fish out of water,” Williams said.

But she quickly realized it was exactly where she needed be -- surrounded by women just like her and a strong support network.

“We were all in a place where we need help, we all helped each other, talked to each other,” Williams said. “We just loved each other.”

Leslie's House opened in late 2007.

“Our mission is to be a safe haven for women who are homeless and also provide them with respite and choices to make healthy lifestyle change so they can move toward self-sufficiency,” said Dana Bentley, the Executive Director of Leslie’s House.

The shelter is part of West End Ministries and relies heavily on the support of the High Point Community Foundation. It has 22 beds for single women ages 18 and older and is consistently full.

“Unfortunately that`s not enough, on any given day, I get 10-15 calls from women looking for a place to stay,” Bentley said.

So far this year, 192 women have stayed in Leslie`s House, which is already a dozen more than all of the last year.

Chris Gillespie, executive director of West End Ministries, describes Leslie’s House as a stable environment for women to get back on their feet.

“In addition to a safe place to sleep, we also have life skills classes, emergency assistance to help them get back into a permanent residence, we offer two meals a day, and we`re open 365 days a year,” Gillespie said.  And that’s exactly what Williams did. Thanks to the support she received at Leslie's house, she now has a place of her own and a fresh outlook on life.

“It`s easier because I had help,” Williams said. “They love the ladies here, they want to see them succeed and if we stay on our goals, we will succeed,”