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BURLINGTON, N.C. — This is a story of what a huge impact just a few people can make. It started off as a feel-good gesture that has turned into so much more. Jennifer Smith and a few other Burlington moms have gotten way outside their comfort zones.

“It was just very hard for a mom to see. I just felt in total shock that they were living this way,” said Smith, who dropped by Our Sister’s House, Alamance County’s only battered women’s shelter, to donate some of her boys’ used clothing. “I saw the kitchen and some of the rooms and knew we had to do something.”

Smith and her friends called their families and larger circle of friends and rounded up support from area churches. They’ve raised $70,000 to help renovate the shelter, including a $35,000 grant from Impact Alamance, which is a part of Cone Health.

Our Sister’s House is in a secret location in Burlington, to help protect the women from their abusers. The house is about 100 years old and is always filled to capacity, with 21 women and their children. The shelter’s director, Tammy Smith, says for 30 years the shelter has operated on a shoestring budget and while the house is clean, repairing and updating it hasn’t been in the budget.

“The whole purpose of this project is to remind people that they are precious. In domestic violence situations, you are told that you are not precious, you’ve been told you’re worthless. You’ve been living that so long, it sounds crazy when people say you are precious and you’re valuable. We want this shelter to be a respite, a place where the women can relax, take a breather and not have added stress and chaos,” said Smith.