By Nicole S. Daniel
The Birmingham Times
Brenda Lovelady Spahn, founder/executive director of The Lovelady Center in Birmingham, remembers when staff had to “glue together the broken pieces” of the building that is home to women formerly incarcerated, released on parole or seeking to break the cycle of poverty.
On Monday, the center received $2 million in federal funding secured by Congresswoman Terri Sewell.
“For so many years, we had to glue together the broken pieces of this great building that we are so happy to have,” Spahn said. “But to be able to go in and renovate will free up our time and free up other money that we have had to tap into to keep things running.”
The Lovelady Center was opened to assist women released on parole, reached the end of their sentences, or just in need of help to become independent. The money will be used to refurbish the dormitories.
“When I think about the mission of the Lovelady Center, to break the cycle of poverty and incarceration, I think about all the women you have helped over the years,” Sewell told Spahn. “We know that substance abuse and incarceration are a part of the cycle of poverty that impacts communities across this nation. If we are going to address these issues, we must take a holistic approach and get to the root cause of this cycle.”
The Lovelady Center helps by providing food, a safe place to stay, and spiritual guidance, Sewell said. “The Lovelady Center has played a critical role in … getting our women integrated into our society,” she added.
Spahn said The Lovelady Center has changed thousands of lives. “When we change a woman’s life, we change their children’s too … thousands of more are out there and need us.”
Sewell has been able to secure $42.8 million over 15 projects in Alabama’s 7th Congressional District.
“These community projects are a way for members of Congress to actually designate and direct resources to local community projects,” Sewell said, “…It does my heart good to be here and see the work you all are doing to really help women reintegrate themselves into society. What a blessing you are and what a blessing this funding I hope will be for all people.”