Making a Difference: Blount County non-profit helps moms reunite with children
An East Tenn. mom said she knew her life had to change after her son was taken away and she landed in jail.
LOUISVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) - A Blount County non-profit called ReUnite Ministries has one goal: to reunite moms with their children and families after they lost custody of them.
“When I started, using meth it didn’t grab me by the hand, it took me by the throat,” said Amanda Schirtz, a Blount County mom to a two and a half year old son.
Amanda Schirtz battled drug addiction. Her son was taken away and she landed in jail. That’s when she knew her life had to change.
“That was my rock bottom, being thrown in jail and told I’m facing eight to 12 years in prison,” said Schirtz.
Then her lawyer told her about ReUnite Ministries. It’s a Blount County non-profit that helps moms end destructive choices and get their children back after having lost custody of them.
Schirtz said, “My prayers were answered, and I was presented with ReUnite Ministries as my second chance to be the mom that I could be.”
It’s a small program with room to house only six women. The goal is to help women who have not had a violent criminal charge get their lives back.
“It’s my safe place to grow, and it’s my second chance at being the mom I know that I can be for my son,” explained Schirtz.
ReUnite Ministries is where she’s learned parenting and life skills, finance and counseling classes and Christian values, all for free.
“I’ve learned so much. I’ve learned so much about love and forgiveness and second chances. Everybody deserves a second chance,” said Schirtz.
Volunteers like Heather Harris help teach Amanda cooking skills and needlework.
“To know that we get to have some small thread and get their kids back to them, is amazing.” said Harris.
In the two years the program’s been open, program director, Tionna Green has seen transformation.
“Watching them grow. Watching them have their aha! moments, watching them love themselves again,” said Green, “My heart is full. It’s full.”
Amanda is able to see her two and a half year old son weekly while he lives with Amanda’s parents. Her hope is to reunite with her family a year after she joined the program which will be February 2022.
“This isn’t just about re-uniting a mom with her kid or her children. It’s reuniting an entire family.”
ReUnite will help her find a job and housing, and will continue to check in on her for a year after her departure.
Women have difficulty finding safe and affordable housing once leaving the program, if you can be of help to any women looking for homes you can call 865-984-9200 ext. 1020.
If you are interested in volunteering with or donating to ReUnite click here.
Copyright 2021 WVLT. All rights reserved.