Columbia transition housing helps women and children off the streets
Robin Etterankin is the cheerleader for the residents in good times and bad.
Jessica Elmore is a resident who came to better herself and the health of her son.
Sarah McCloskey is a volunteer who set up a GoFundMe account for the upcoming Christmas party.
By Victoria Broughton
Hannah House, on Columbia's Sumter Street, helps women and their families off the streets and into a better life.
Robin Etterankin is the Hannah House resident manager, volunteer coordinator, and office manager. She is also the cheerleader for all the women in the building, congratulating them when they get a job; and consoling them in hard times.
"The definition of homelessness is the lack of resource", Etterankin said.
She says chronic homelessness is sometimes passed on since many did not grow up in a family where someone could show them to pay bills, or keep a clean home.
"Life skills are a big part of this program. This new mold doesn't just go for you, it goes for your children and their children cause you can teach them how to be stable", Etterankin said.
Hannah House offers resources for these women to transition out of the house and get back on their feet. Counselors offer personal development through bible study, professional development through building resumes and finding jobs, education, health and wellness. They also help with personal finance by teaching them to save money as a cushion if they hit hard times later.
Resident Jessica Elmore works the service desk everyday.
"It was a decision to come here or go back to mom's house", Elmore said.
Women with children get to stay for 18 months. Single women can only stay for twelve months then find another place to stay.
Hannah House offers over 40 beds, laundry room, kitchen, a boutique, dining room, living room, and a play room. The residents are also provided with access to telephones and the internet, clothes, shoes, personal hygiene products, and healthcare assistance.
Hannah House donors help pay for their first month's rent and deposit. The women are expected to get jobs to pay for the oncoming month's rent.
Volunteer Sarah McCloskey says that transportation is a critical missing piece to Hannah House since none of the residents have a car and budgeting doesn't allow the residents to take the bus often.
Etterankin knows the women's problems, she has been homeless herself. She says it helps her see what the residents need without them having to ask. Etterankin is planning a Christmas party for the residents this year and most of the money is coming out of her pocket. McCloskey set up a GoFundMe account to help Etterankin with the finances.
"I figured that would be one of the ways I could contribute and spread the word about Hannah House", McCloskey said.
Hannah House is always looking for volunteers to sort donations, watch the kids, or help plan events. Those interested in volunteering can call (803)771-4357 or visit their website for more information.