Building a Home for Women Veterans

How does a person go from working over twenty years in the commercial construction industry to serving veteran women who mLand Bank Staff ay be rebounding from drug addiction, domestic violence, incarceration or homelessness?  Sheila Locatelli, CEO and Founder of Women of Hope, would say she never saw it coming.  But today, Sheila is 
renovating a vacant and abandoned Cuyahoga Land Bank house for four veteran women.  The home “Ariya’s House” is expected to be up and running in early 2016.    
When asked why she began Women of Hope, Sheila stated “It was a story of obedience to God and an openness to follow my heart.”  She simply saw a need and “with the help of God” began to take the necessary steps to proactively work to make a change. “I was floored,” Sheila commented, “by the statics of how many veteran women struggle with homelessness.” 
In 2007, Women of Hope was established.  The organization began fulfilling its mission of providing transitional housing and supportive services for homeless female veterans. They started by running 8-week workshops entitled “Strengthening the Inner Me” for women residing at the Veteran’s Administration (VA) Domiciliary.  Women of Hope recently met with women at the VA Domiciliary and shared the future opening of Ariya’s House.  The new opportunity brought hope to the women’s eyes.  The chance for the women to be a part of a supportive community and have a safe place to call home reminded Sheila of the priceless rewards found in the Women of Hope’s work.
Land Bank Staff Sheila Locatelli has exemplified a remarkable level of tenacity, vision and leadership in keeping Women of Hope active in the veteran community, while on the journey of renovating the organization’s first home.  Along with the help of her board, Sheila has led the charge in securing nearly $16,000 in material, labor and cash donations for Ariya’s House.  Similar to the stories of many starting a new organization, Sheila started the renovation of Ariya’s House while balancing her full-time job separate from Women of Hope.  “Sheila has stood determined to see Ariya House succeed to assist those women who have served our nation,” says Vatiesha Nyemba, Complance and Monitoring Manager at the Cuyahoga Land Bank. Vatiesha has worked with Women of Hope during the renovation process and the organization has exemplified its ability to effectively manage real estate and maintain a sustainable program of impact.
The Cuyahoga Land Bank is frequently collaborating with a variety of individuals and organizations to support community goals and better the lives of county residents.  This ranges from hearing from organizations in their beginning stages to assisting in the implementation of well-capitalized plans backed by local, state and federal agencies. 
Women ofLand Bank Staff  Hope has stood out as a small non-profit which is building its vision as an organization.  The Cuyahoga Land Bank is looking forward to its partnership with Women of Hope and the success of Ariya’s House in serving the needs of the veteran community. All things considered, Sheila believes that the hard work, fund raising, project managing, head (and heart) aches will be well worth it. All who meet and get to know this visionary leader will soon learn that she is willing to do what it takes to make the words “homeless” and “veteran” never be used in the same sentence.

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