Photo By Sydney Stump

Britney Whitby was frightened and unsure what to do when she and her 2-year-old daughter were evicted from their Harrington home.

They now live at Shepherd Place Emergency Shelter on South Governors Avenue.

The single mom, who has epilepsy, said she had nowhere else to go after her former fiancé was arrested for robbing a bank and she could not pay the bills.

At first, she did not like Shepherd Place, not only because she didn’t like that she had to be there, also because of the place’s strict rules and curfew.

“When you’re coming off the street or coming out of your own home, you’re used to doing things your way and it’s a whole new environment here,” Whitby said. After three months at Shepherd Place, Whitby said she has formed great connections with not only the staff but other residents.

“It really is like a family here,” she said.

Video By Sydney Stump

Shepherd Place looks like any old white house on the block. There’s a playground in the back, a fence around the yard and a front porch that looks perfect for lounging on during a sunny day.

Video By Sydney Stump

This is a women’s and children’s homeless shelter, home to both children and adults who have nowhere to go.

Shelter manager Cheryl Best-Wells said the shelter helps families, though no single men can stay in the shelter. They allow husbands to stay with wives, and sons to stay with mothers, even if the sons are adults, or over 18.

Another resident, Kathleen Walls, is a single woman who has also been living there for almost three months.

“I stayed at Whatcoat (Dover emergency) homeless shelter before I stayed here and, compared to Whatcoat, this place is a castle.” Walls said.

Walls has a disability and hasn’t been able to work since 2008.

She said she takes advantage of the educational workshops.

“They bring in a lot of empowerment and educational speakers,” Walls said. “They come in and teach you life skills like how to budget and how to learn about your credit. We all need some uplifting as well so the empowerment speakers are always good.”

Video By Sydney Stump

Both Walls and Whitby said they are working toward getting out of the shelter and into a permanent residence of their own.

Walls has filed for housing with Capital Green apartments in Dover, where a resident only has to pay 30 percent of their income to stay. The rest is subsidized by the federal Housing and Urban Development (HUD) department.  She is on the waiting list for a two bedroom apartment.

Whitby said Shepherd Place has been essential because it provides supplies, like diapers, to take care of her daughter so she can find a stable job.

“It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why people end up here,” Best-Wells said. “There are people here with jobs and degrees, but in the past two years I’ve been here, people have needed to be here because of a drug addiction, domestic abuse, or high rent costs.”

Another resident at Shepherd Place has been there for about two months because of domestic violence.

Video By Sydney Stump

“The relationship was really toxic,” said the woman, whom we’ll call “Jane” to protect her identity.  “I always resisted leaving him because I had never been in a situation like this and I was married and felt really secure in my relationship and never really thought I would have to leave it.”

After about two months of support from both residents and staff at Shepherd Place, Jane said she found a stable job.

The shelter has eight bedrooms. The bedrooms for single women, accommodate four women to each room. If a resident has children, she may get a room for herself and her children.

Best-Wells said she sets up workshops with churches for motivation, speakers from Stand By Me, a nonprofit that helps educate people about finances. She even hosts fun events for both children and adults.

“We like to do special events for the kids from time to time and I even have Zumba classes for the mothers when I can,” Best-Wells said. “We try to keep it as light-hearted as we can around here.”