By Adianna Alston | AC JosepH Media
GLOUCESTER COUNTY — While seeking her God-given purpose in life, Francina Pendergrass‘ vision to assist and empower women in need became clear to her.
Pendergrass is the founder and president of Hannah’s House Inc., a nonprofit organization founded in 2003 which is committed to uplifting and providing various forms of resources and mentorship to women in crisis.
As a passionate advocate, licensed minister, and certified forensic nurse examiner, Pendergrass possesses the unique qualifications and experience which has allowed her to be successful in her endeavors.
The initiatives of the organization have shifted and developed over the years, but its core value in serving women has remained the same.
“Initially, my goal was to assist incarcerated women transition out of jail and back into the community,” Pendergrass told Front Runner New Jersey. “Realizing that housing was an issue, I began to focus on providing housing to homeless women.”
In 2004, Pendergrass was responsible for starting the first comprehensive family literacy program for incarcerated women at the Cumberland County Department of Corrections. This program allowed participants to earn their GED which assisted women in their transition back into the community upon release.
Despite the success of the program, Pendergrass recognized the need for providing even more assistance.
“In order for the women to become contributing members in the community, they would need life skills, counseling, a high school diploma, parenting classes, and women mentors,” she said. “This shaped Hannah’s House and how we currently operate.”
True to this vision, Hannah’s House offers free housing, education, therapy and vocational training by a staff comprised of women of color.
“I believe that culture heals culture so when a woman of color walks through our door we can immediately begin to speak to her heart,” Pendergrass said. “They are given the space to cry and vent and they are validated. They know this is a unique place where they can be at peace and begin to rebuild their life.”
Hannah’s House has been successful in positively changing the trajectory of the lives of countless women.
“The women at Hannah’s House have received their GEDs, completed high school, reunited with family and children, received trauma-informed counseling, cooking class, and been given the opportunity to make better choices,” Pendergrass said.
The impact of Hannah’s House has not gone unnoticed as Pendergrass was recently named the winner of the Lifetime Legacy Award from SJ Magazine.
Pendergrass describes her feelings now after learning that she had won the award.
“When I was notified that I would be a recipient of the SJ Magazine Lifetime Legacy Award, it was a tearful moment for me,” she said. “The nomination was a surprise that validated that I was walking in my God-given purpose and fulfilling the vision and mission of Hannah’s House.”
Pendergrass hopes to use this award and the recognition that she has received to help further her mission.
“My goal is to expand Hannah’s House to serve more women,” Pendergrass said. “I am also looking to build a team of dedicated volunteers. We are in need of a van for transportation, employers to help with careers, professionals to provide workshops and sponsors.”
“Life becomes so meaningful when we are able to be a blessing to another person,” Pendergrass shares, and what a meaningful life indeed that she has led.
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