Shelton Quarles hammers away at an existing cabinet June 19. Quarles and his IMPACT Foundation are renovating a unit at Shepard’s Village in Belleair Bluffs.
BELLEAIR BLUFFS – Instead of a football, Shelton Quarles picked up a hammer and a pair of gloves. The former NFL player helped to demolish the interior of an existing housing unit at Shepherd’s Village on June 19.
Over the next month and a half, the unit will undergo renovations before becoming the home for a single mother and her children.
In the past 23 years, Shepherd’s Village has been able to help 250 families and nearly 500 children. The housing facilities in Belleair Bluffs offer a safe, steady home for up to 15 families annually.
These temporary homes have helped many women in crisis get back on their feet. But while the existing units are clean, they also date back to the 1970s and are in need of repair.
Thanks to the Shelton Quarles IMPACT Foundation, one of the units was renovated last year. At a Shepherd’s Village gala last winter, Quarles pledged to renovate another. With this second donation, however, Quarles wanted to give more than just money.
For three hours, Quarles and his two sons Shelton Jr. and Carlos worked alongside contractor Jerry to demolish the inside of the unit. Moving from the kitchen to the bathroom to the living room, the team pulled apart fixtures, removed tiles, and tore up the carpet.
Shelton Jr., 13, liked the experience of helping with the housing unit, especially since a real family would be living there.
“It’s also cool because I get to take out my anger on some wood,” Shelton Jr. said.
His father agreed.
“It’s been a fun day,” said Quarles.
He enjoyed getting the opportunity to spend the day with his boys while helping out single mothers.
“I was raised permanently by a single mother,” said Quarles. “I know what it’s like.”
Shepherd’s Village director Dr. Phyllis Alderman is also familiar with the struggles of single mothers after becoming one herself. An unwanted divorce forced Alderman to raise her children alone, but it also provided the inspiration to help others in her situation.
Alderman founded Shepherd’s Village in 1992 as a way to give her fellow single mothers a hand.
“I believed that they needed a fresh start,” said Alderman.
Through her own experience, Alderman determined that the keys to achieving a balanced single life were education, life skills and a faith foundation. The core priority is a safe place to live.
Alderman believes it is important for mothers to come home to a positive environment.
“If they come home and see quality, they can believe in quality,” Alderman said.
The mothers pay $510 a month for rent, which includes water, sewage and laundry. Electricity, cable, and Internet are extra. To stay at Shepherd’s Village for two years, the mothers must work to actively set and achieve goals (for example, every single mother in the program is working, and about 80 percent are pursuing an education). If they need to, mothers can apply to stay for a third year.
Shepherd’s Village also offers workshops to teach practical life skills. Mothers can learn about a variety of topics, from education and tutoring to health and nutrition.
“It gives them an opportunity to go from crisis to stability,” said Susan Shirely, the administrative associate at Shepherd’s Village.
Now that demolition is finished, renovations will take anywhere from four to six weeks. Shepherd’s Village employees are still screening potential families to place in the unit upon completion.
With Quarles’ help, Shepherd’s Village can continue to carry out its mission. However, it’s not enough to help everyone. Shirely said that the organization gets about 40 calls a week from families in need. For every woman that they help, there are many others whom they just can’t accommodate.
Alderman’s goal is to build or purchase more housing so that Shepherd’s Village can help even more families in crisis.
Her dream might just come true very soon. Recently, a potential donor has offered to give land that would enable the foundation to build 30 more units.