A Palmer non-profit is getting a big financial boost to its mission of helping women find jobs – and giving them a place to stay while they look.

The Mat-Su Health Foundation gave a $180,000 grant to Connect Palmer's Sarah's House program.

Sherry Carrington, Connect Palmer's executive director, said the program provides training classes and resume building. Staff soon learned, however, that many clients needed more.

"We found a lot of our women were sleeping in their cars on the river, in tents, on their friends' couches, in storage units and we wanted to try to address that," Carrington said.

The apartments above their office have housed nearly 60 women since the non-profit started about four years ago.

Wanda Lundy said she was at one of her lowest points when she walked through the door at Sarah's House.

"I was on the road to a second suicide attempt, homeless, trying to struggle to get into programs, no transportation. Lost my driver's license in a DUI, no car," she said. "Then I called Sherry."

Lundy said she battled substance abuse and ended up losing custody of her son. The program took months of hard work, but Lundy said it paid off when she found a job and got her son back.

"It changed my life and saved my life," she said.

Teta Harrell came to Sarah's House after she got out of jail for crimes related to illegal drugs. She needed a place to stay in Palmer where she could be closer to probation services and spent six months at the apartment they provided.

"It took me five of those months to find a job because I had a barrier, through the crime I committed. It was hard for me to find employment," she said.

Now Harrell has a job helping others who are recovering from substance abuse. She credits Sarah's House for her success.

"I'm so happy and so blessed," she said. "I couldn't ask for a better life right now."

Carrington said the grant from the Mat-Su Health Foundation will let the program continue the classes and housing. Staff will be able to hire a program director, and Carrington – who's been volunteering her time for the past four years – will take home a part-time paycheck.

"It's going to open up more doors for us to be able to do what we do and do it well," Carrington said.

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