Mullinax Ford's Making Spirits Bright: Penelope House sponsored by Better Homes & Gardens

(IMAGE: WPMI) Mullinax Ford's Making Spirits Bright: Penelope House sponsored by Better Homes & Gardens

If you had 5 minutes to evacuate your home, what would you take?

Now, add to that the prospect of being seriously hurt or even killed while you do it?

This describes the reality some abused spouses face, as they make that split second decision of self-preservation... not just for themselves, but very often, for their children as well.

"Many times it can escalate to being a murder suicide or a homicide,” says Melanie Bankhead, shelter supervisor at Mobile’s Penelope House. “That's why we are here, We want people to know we are a safe place for them to come."

We can't show you the outside of the building, because of that very reason. Revealing the location and appearance of Penelope House would jeopardize it as a safe haven for abused spouses. But inside, comforting arms await. And, today, the compassionate staff members of Penelope House are getting a dose of their own medicine... from the staff of realtors at Better Homes and Gardens main Street Properties.

"This is our 5th year of supporting the Penelope House and kicking off Making Spirits Bright," says Holly Lovette. She and her crew tell me delivering items needed at Penelope House falls right in with the company's mission-

"Service to others is the core of what we are,” she says, “and to be able to get behind this organization this time of year is just a real important part of who we are and what we do."

One of Holly’s employees, Misty Hellman, has tried to imagine herself in such a situation. As a new mom, she eagerly took part in her company's delivery of items to help Penelope House feel more like a temporary home.

"We have pillows, we have Lysol wipes,” she says, listing items they’ve brought in. “We have tooth brushes and socks, the everyday needs that someone would need to go to work, or school and not feel out of place, to have a good night's rest with that wonderful pillow and clean sheets and a towel, even something as small as a towel, so they can take care of their everyday needs."

Penelope House director Tonie Ann Torrans is grateful.

"You know, a lot of times when people are filling wish lists, they might be items that you think of as gifts, scarves, mittens, whatever,” says Tonie. “A lot of times our wish lists are the practical things because, when they come here, we want them to feel safe, we want them to be comfortable."

No, you probably won't see a picture of Penelope House on a Christmas card. But thanks to the staff of Better Homes and Gardens Main St. Properties, those who will call Penelope house home for the holidays will get the gifts they need most... security and support.

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