LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - Staci Landry and Kadi Leblanc were in Texarkana, Texas, looking for somewhere to go after Hurricane Laura.
The two sisters' homes and their mom’s home was damaged. Landry’s two kids, niece and mom were staying at a hotel.
Leblanc reached out to a caseworker who was also an Arkansas native. She connected the family with Hamilton Haven, a non-profit organization that provides temporary housing for families and individuals displaced due to fire, flood or other natural disasters.
The home was renovated and ready in April. While Leblanc returned to work in Lake Charles, the family of five was the non-profit’s first neighbors to host.
“Peace. Honestly, I felt at peace,” Landry said. “Knowing that we had a place to have Gracelyn, to have her comfortable in a safe place where we didn’t have to stress about where we’re gonna be the next day.”
Landry’s niece, Gracelyn, 10, has special needs.
“She’s ventilated [tracheostomy tube] and she has a lot of equipment,” Leblanc said. Upon reuniting with her daughter, Leblanc said she cried.
“All I needed to do was see her smile at me, that’s all I needed."
The two weeks of stay was much needed, so the family can figure out what to do next in Lake Charles.
Nathan Tidwell of Hamilton Haven said their mission is to offer immediate short term relief, so families such as this one can transition from crisis to stability.
“Where do I sleep tonight? Well, we’ll have a place for you to sleep tonight that’s clean and safe and comfortable and then it’ll allow you to get your mind together and figure out your next steps," Tidwell said.
There is no charge for anyone approved to stay in the home, Tidwell said. The house can support one family at a time for 30 days.
“We set a limit for 30 days cause the idea is for short-term," Tidwell said. “If you need longer, we can work with you on that but it’s not a long-term situation. It’s for you to get settled in and figure out your situation."
Hamilton Haven is an all-volunteer staff.
“None of us are doing it for any kind of glory, we’re all volunteers," Tidwell said. "Your donations, your support have paid off for us. have paid off in order for us to help a family in need.”
After two weeks, Landry is back in Texas, while Leblanc and their mom, Phyllis Fruge, 57, is in Lake Charles.
“If they wouldn’t have been there to help us out, I don’t know what I would have done," Leblanc said. "I don’t know where we would have been able to go. I mean the funds were dwindling very quickly with hotel stays.”
“It took a lot of stress off us,” Fruge said. “As a mother, you want to always take care of your children. Always want to make sure they’re safe and we’re all together.”
Fruge, her two daughters Staci and Kadi, and her grandchildren plan to live together soon.
“I’m very thankful for places like [Hamilton Haven]," Landry said. "They don’t realize how much they help out a lot, but they do.”