New Wytheville women's shelter also houses children

WYTHEVILLE, Va. (WDBJ7) A new women's shelter is open in Wytheville. But it's not like any other service the town or surrounding communities have been able to offer before.

What makes the Wythe Refuge and Mercy House special is that it can welcome children.

Before the shelter opened on Tuesday, if a woman needed somewhere to go and she had kids, she had to go to Bristol or Roanoke.

Abuse victims were always able to go to the Family Resource Center for emergency housing. But those who just need a place to stay didn't have one until now.

Wythe Refuge & Mercy House President Sharon Gallimore explained, "Sometimes women get in situations that it's hard for them to step out because they don't have any family, they've just been in a little rut, they think they can't do it on their own. This is what it's for."

Gallimore and her husband spent nearly $20,000 of their own money to open this shelter.

"Through the years God's been dealing with me and my husband," she said. "He's blessed us so I think it's up to us to bless others. He laid it on my heart to do it."

The first person they could bless is Brittany Raibley, who moved in with her 2-month old daughter the day the shelter opened its doors.

"I was just trying to get back on my feet and have a good safe place for me and my daughter," Raibley said.

On what she'd be doing without the shelter she added, "I would be bouncing around from place to place and that's no life for anybody."

Now, like anyone else staying there, Sharon will help Brittany get on her feet to restart her life.

"We'll help them get the resources they need," Gallimore said. "Then we'll teach them how to budget, just the needs that they need to become sufficient on their own."

Raibley added about her situation, "It just gives me stability to be able to find a job. I haven't made much of myself, but hopefully I can use this as a stepping stone to be better."

Gallimore said she's applying for grants to continue funding the shelter and add more furniture. But she's also asking for donations from the community to continue helping the women.

And if enough funding comes in she plans to open a men's shelter in Wytheville sometime next Spring.

To get in contact with the shelter, call 276-620-6714 or check out their Facebook page which is available under the Related Links section of this article.