Ask Maybelle Regaspi about Samaritan House's Safe Harbor, the homeless shelter she once stayed in, and she'll use a surprising word to describe it.
"To be honest with you, this is home for me," Regaspi said. "I'm so at home every month."
Since leaving the shelter in 2015, Regaspi has been returning every month to throw a party for residents' birthdays. This month, though, Regaspi did even more. She threw a special Mother's Day party for the mothers who currently live at Safe Harbor.
"For mothers, I think it's more challenging to be here," Regaspi said. "I celebrated two Mother's Days here. My kids were still away at that time. To honor mothers in a place like this, what could be better?"
Regasip came to the shelter in June of 2014, escaping what she described as an abusive marriage.
“My first few weeks I was just facing the wall,” she said. “That time was the darkest. I was broken, no family, no friends, I don't know anybody I felt so alone.”
It was not until she began exercising every morning with another resident that Regaspi opened up to the rest of the people at the shelter and connected with them.
She said that she felt like she was, “one with them.”
Regaspi left Safe Harbor in January of 2015 after finding herself stable employment and housing. She returned a few months later to celebrate her birthday with some friends still living at the shelter.
That is when she got the idea to begin the tradition of celebrating their birthdays, and Mother’s Day at the Samaritan House.
“Living here I noticed a lot of people are just existing,” she said. “At least one Saturday a month, let’s party, let’s give you life.”
Along with passing out gifts to the mothers upstairs, there was a breakfast banquet brewing with eggs, ham and hot chocolate for all the residents downstairs.
Now, members of her church, including her son, serve food and donate to the residents every month and hold a big celebration every Mother’s Day.
It is Regaspi’s way of paying it forward, she said.
“My son is here serving, he sees me, and I always tell him, 'You can never be poor or lacking not to be able to give’,” she said. “You give your time.”