Community support helps Mother's Refuge rebuild, expand after devastating fire

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - Mother's Refuge burned down nearly 18 months ago, but community support has helped them rebuild and expand.

The Independence homeless shelter for pregnant teens was completely destroyed in a fire in October 2012, forcing young mothers who had no where else to live to once again find somewhere else to stay.

Temporary housing was setup while organizers started to rebuild.

Shelter Director Robert Zornes said the support from the community has been a blessing.

"We had a guy come knock down a wall in our foundation so we could expand the top floor," Zornes. "But then he said 'do you want me to dig out the whole basement... for free. That was our first miracle."

Zornes calls the unforeseen acts of generosity "miracles," and there have been more than a few.

"We had showers donated. We had furnaces donated. Our roof, siding, sprinkler system, security system were all donated," Zornes said. "It's just been awesome." 

The shelter more than doubled its square footage and will now have a larger bathroom, a computer lab, additional bedrooms and living area in the basement.

The original plan was to have the shelter open on Mother's Day, but the additional projects have pushed the completion time back to mid summer.

A lot of work still needs to be done, and the shelter is organizing a massive volunteer work day on Saturday. For information on how to help or donate visit

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