AUBURN, Ind. (WANE) – A Saturday night fundraiser helped homeless women in Dekalb County get a second chance. Faith-Based Refuge The Hearten House held its 3rd Annual Hearten House Gala at the Auburn Cord Duesenberg Automotive Museum.
The Hearten House helps homeless women get back on their feet. Executive Director Marisa Mckenzie began her mission after experiencing homelessness herself ten years ago.
Mckenzie was homeless and addicted to crystal meth and heroin. Mckenzie says she wanted to end her life because she couldn’t find the right help at the time.
“I really searched, but I didn’t have insurance and so without insurance I just couldn’t find a place,” Mckenzie said. “So I found myself in such a dark place and I couldn’t live like this anymore. I received the help I needed, thanks to a place that provided me with a safe place and shaped the behavior of what I needed,” Mckenzie said.
Today, Mckenzie offers a helping hand to homeless women.
“It’s something that’s a calling and I’m very passionate about my life, I can teach our women that you are loved and you are precious and you are so much more than what the world has told you,” Mckenzie said. “It’s such an honor to be able to share with them as they grow up and overcome their addiction or as they move into their home,” Mckenzie said.
Mckenzie is grateful to the donors and all the generosity she has received from them to continue what she loves.
“It’s a time to celebrate, to celebrate the many lives that have been changed, the many families, the many children who have been reunited with their mothers,” Mckenzie said.
Over the past ten years, Mckenzie has graduated from college, gone on missions, and reestablished relationships with her children.
Mckenzie says the purpose of the gala was to raise awareness of the issue, more than to raise funds for the organization.
“Our women come to us just broken. And beaten and they’re desperate and they just don’t believe there’s any chance or change and we’re able to walk alongside them and love them through this,” Mckenzie said. “Teaching them and modeling that behavior and watching them go strong and brave and empowered is the most amazing thing and it’s really a ripple effect throughout the community, of positive change,” Mckenzie said. .
During the Saturday evening gala, there was a silent auction, a live band and a photo booth for their donors as well as a catered dinner.