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Helping moms move into a better situation

Melissa Kaminsky, development director at Barrett House, said the shelter is in need of everyday household items including toiletries, diapers and basic clothing items. (Greg Sorber/Albuquerque Journal)

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — National moving chain Two Men and a Truck is doing more than loading and unloading furniture this spring.

In honor of Mother’s Day, the company is collecting household items for Barrett House, a local shelter for women and their children. The company has a nationwide program called Movers for Moms. Each spring ahead of Mother’s Day, the company collects goods and items for local shelters that serve women and families.

Albuquerque general manager Dylan Southward said a core value of Two Men and a Truck is giving back to the community. The company, founded in 1985, was started by Mary Ellen Sheets, who was looking for a way her two Lansing, Mich., high school sons could earn extra money. After the boys left for college, Sheets continued receiving calls and decided to keep going with it. She purchased a 14-foot-truck and hired a pair of movers. The company now has 350 locations worldwide.

Barrett House kitchen manager and chef Sally Bazan prepares salad for women and children staying at the shelter. The house provides three meals a day.

“That first year, the founder made $1,000 in profit,” Southward said. “She wrote 10 checks for $100 each and gave each one to a local charity.”

Melissa Kaminsky, director of development for Barrett House shelter, said an important part of the organization’s success is to offer their clients more than just a place to sleep and that is sometimes done with the support of other businesses and organizations like Two Men and a Truck.

Kaminsky said the items needed most are those people use daily in their own households.

“Anything you need in your house, we need that too,” she said. “But we have 40 people in the house who need those things.”

The items needed include diapers, baby wipes, shampoo and conditioners, body wash, lotion, paper towels, toilet paper, pillows, blankets and other hygiene and basic clothing items.

In addition to collecting goods in Albuquerque, Two Men and a Truck also moves clients of Barrett House into their own place at no charge.

bright spotOne of those clients they helped move was Eva-Maria Fogle-Lehmeier. She had been homeless for six years before being placed at Barrett House.

The German native became completely disabled with rheumatoid arthritis and was unable to drive or work. She eventually lost her home. She started living in her car or sleeping on the couches of friends. That led to years of despair and depression and a suicide attempt. She ended up in the hospital for unrelated respiratory problems and it was the hospital that secured her a bed at the shelter. She said it changed her life.

They helped her get disability payments and secure a home health aide. They also helped her work out a plan to get into her own apartment. In August 2016, with the help of Two Men and a Truck, the mother of three adult children moved into her own place.

“I wish I had known about all this help before,” she said. “For me being at the shelter was just like heaven. My first night there, oh my gosh, I never slept so. I knew I was safe.”

Brother Mathias Barrett opened the house Downtown in 1985 to offer a haven for homeless women and their children. The house served between 15 and 20 women a night that first year. It has since moved to an east side location and now houses between 35 and 40 women every night.

“We have a full-time staff that helps them (the women) work out a housing plan,” Kaminsky said. “We let them live here until they get housing.”