Homeless person inspires 2 women to build women's shelter

An Ahwatukee couple's mission to open a women’s shelter has come to fruition.

The idea of a women's shelter came to Shante Saulsberry, after she saw a woman named Janice every day, while she was heading to work.

"Janice is a homeless woman that was here in Ahwatukee. I found Janice in early 2020, during the pandemic," said Saulsberry. "I started asking her, 'do you need a mask? Do you need food?' When I got breakfast, I got her breakfast from Chick-Fil-A."

Saulsberry and her wife, Sheri, started calling around different shelters to see if they could get Janice some help.

"Us calling didn’t do anything. We couldn’t get anybody. It was 40°F that morning, so it was a real bad situation, and it kinda hurt my heart that seeing these people out there cold," said Saulsberry. "We can’t even get ahold of the shelter because they say call at this time. Then, they want her to call. How are you suppose to call when you’re homeless?"

It was then when Saulsberry and Sheri decided they wanted to do more. They came up with the idea of opening a shelter, and they called it 'Janice's Women's Center,' after the woman who inspired them.

The shelter serves women experiencing homelessness and domestic violence.

"It’s not an easy thing, starting a nonprofit from scratch, especially when you want to build, you build up from scratch. It’s very difficult," said Saulsberry. "We have to do security. You know we’re dealing with domestic violence."

They are planning to construct the building out of cargo containers, providing a temporary tiny home to each woman.

"We want to make sure these women are ready to give back to society and know it wasn’t their fault what happened," said Saulsberry.

As for Janice, after months of helping her, Saulsberry and Sheri say they haven’t been able to find her.

"I would love to take her there once it’s built, and say this is because of you," said Saulsberry.

Janice's Women's Center


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