41 Action News coverage of fire at Mother's Refuge helps homeless shelter get $10,000 grant

INDEPENDENCE, Mo. - 41 Action News' coverage of the fire that destroyed the Mother's Refuge homeless shelter has helped the Independence, Mo., organization receive a $10,000 grant.

On Oct. 8, the little home at 3721 South Delridge Road suffered severe smoke, fire and water damage.  What had been a place more than 1,200 teen mothers turned to in their time of need was reduced to rubble.

For shelter executive director Robert Zornes, it didn't take long for doubt to set in.

"The night of the fire, honestly, I stood out in front, I thought maybe it was time to board it up, throw in the towel and go home," Zornes said.

That night, 41 Action News aired a story where Zornes explained the services Mother's Refuge provides for young mothers in need.

"The girls we serve, have come from some very bad backgrounds, and have no home," Zornes said as he fought back tears. "And tonight, they no longer have another home."

Kansas City resident Jessika Goebel watched that broadcast.

"I was watching 41, and I saw Robert crying," Goebel said. "It was so raw and so real to see him show how much he really loves what he does."

She was so touched by the story that she immediately contacted 41 Action News to see how she could help. 

But Goebel wasn't acting alone. The young mother has a Facebook group with nearly 9,000 members -- all other local moms.

"When you're a mom, you see all children as your own child because you have this maternal instinct of love," Goebel said.

That love turned into donations. Members of Goebel's Kansas City's Ultimate Mom's Club donated everything from clothes to formula.

Not long after, Zornes told Goebel about the National Christian Foundation's Heartland Passion Awards, which was offering a $10,000 donation to a charity that received the most votes in an online poll.

Goebel spent hours promoting the poll on her Facebook page, soliciting as many votes as she could. Before she got involved, Mother's Refuge had less than 70 votes. After she started campaigning, the organization had more than 2,000.  On Monday night, Mother's Refuge was granted the generous contribution.

"Our staff and the young girls that we serve are (feeling) at it's highest peak because I really feel like they're not doing this alone, that they really have the support of the community," Zornes said.

Zornes said the fire has brought additional support from people who had no idea about Mother's Refuge. The organization is still desperately in need of donations, but he feels confident the shelter will rebuild to be better than ever.

Mother's Refuge is hosting a benefit concert Saturday night at the Nativity of Mary Catholic Church, 10010 E. 40 Hwy., in Independence. The program begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

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