CALM Village Nears Completion!

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By Michelle Ruschman

In 2013, Terri Steadman and Grace Nuffer were working with a group of young single mothers when they saw a need: To have a safe place these moms could go with their children during a time of crisis. As a result, CALM (Crisis Aid for Littles and Moms) House was born. Eleven years later, not only has CALM House helped 50 mothers and 70 children, the organization now includes the CALM Furniture Resale Store (in the former VenYou201 building) and they are now answering a new need with CALM Village: Where do single mothers go to find affordable transitional housing? Leanne Schutt, Secretary, and Niceville Public Relations Representative for the Executive Board of Directors, shares what started CALM Village and what is included in these new homes: “The shortage of reasonably priced housing is a significant issue, and (CALM House) residents often struggle to obtain affordable housing through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) or they are unable to find suitable accommodations in their budget.

CALM Village Niceville HomesEach cottage will be a brand-new house approximately 600 square feet, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen/dining room/living room combo, a stackable washer/dryer, and a private front porch. They will also be fully furnished.”

For many families, these homes will be a game changer. But, the application process and screening will be rigorous, even more so than CALM House. “To qualify for CALM House and CALM Village, applicants are required to complete an application form. They must also have at least one child under their custody and pass a phone screening and interview process to evaluate their suitability for our programs. Furthermore, prospective applicants must be free from drugs and alcohol.”

In addition, applicants must meet these qualifications:
• Be a family (one adult with custody of children no older than 12 and no more than three children)
• Pass a background check completed by CALM
• Must be employed full-time (32 hours/week or more) with at least 60 days of pay stubs as proof
• Must have children in school or childcare
• Must have a driver’s license and an insured vehicle
• Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) is already established
• Must have medical insurance for them and their children
• Must have birth certificates and Social Security cards for all members of the household.
• Must be drug and alcohol-free including medical marijuana and medication-assisted treatment (MAT)
• Must provide a copy of credit report with debts
• Must have the deposit and the first month’s fee before moving in
• Must read and accept all CALM Village Rules. (The guidelines and application will be shared on the website soon.)

These homes will be where CALM House graduates can look to as “next steps,” but it is not mandatory to be a graduate to apply. If you fit the criteria listed above, you’re a potential candidate to become a resident in CALM Village. The rules are no-nonsense and faith-centered. But, for those who qualify and are willing to live out the values that have made the CALM program so successful, those approved will gain a beautiful and safe place to live with their child(ren) for up to a year.

CALM Village Niceville home sink and cabinetsCALM Village, like CALM House, is not meant to be a permanent solution, but a point of transition where single mothers have an opportunity to gather resources until they can launch on their own. With many properties, rent is reaching well over a thousand, even for an apartment. CALM Village is truly a gift in our community with the fee being just $850 a month. In addition, $100 of that fee will be set aside in a savings account for the family. The goal is, at the end of their year-long stay in the CALM Village, mom will have at least $1200 to begin her next chapter.

As of now, four cottages are nearing completion, but the CALM House Executive Board isn’t done dreaming big for the families they serve. “Our immediate goal is to establish the 4 cottages that constitute CALM Village. We will assess their effectiveness before proceeding with the construction of the next three cottages. As an additional consideration, we are working on a playground and exploring the possibility of constructing an educational building.”

The CALM group knows their dreams have become tangible as a direct result of the amazing support from the people of Okaloosa County and beyond. Because CALM is an overtly Christian-based organization, it doesn’t qualify for government aid. These safe places have only become possible through private donations and sponsorship and the expenses are significant. The biggest need for CALM House to run, and for CALM Village to expand, is to have a budgetable, reliable, monthly income, whatever the amount. Every dollar helps and will be used to maximize every contribution. If you’d like to be part of these life-changing efforts, there are several ways you can contribute time and/or resources.

•. Send donations to: CALM Organization Inc., 201 Redwood Ave., Niceville, FL 32578. Checks can be made payable to CALM Organization Inc. Venmo @CALM-organization (the last four digits of the phone number are 6419).
•. Attend their annual fundraiser, Spring Up For CALM, on March 9th from 5-8 p.m. at 1028 White Point Rd. Tickets are $75 each or $550 for a table of 8. Purchase tickets through Venmo (Make note that the funds are for this event and include your email address.) or email Terri Steadman at President@nicevillecalm.com.
•. Visit https://nicevillecalm.com/donate to see the many ways you can contribute to these efforts.

To volunteer as an advocate or with childcare, contact CALM House Director and graduate of CALM House, Carri Jackson, at director@nicevillecalm.com.

Together, we are making a positive impact for generations to come.