Each Thursday of the month from 3 to 8 p.m., a group of girls come together to craft, have dinner and attend bible study. Some came together already as friends, and others formed new friendships once they were there. The place bringing these girls all together is called Tabitha House.
Claudia Madison had the idea to start Tabitha House about a year ago. The New Castle First Nazarene Church, the church in which she attends, bought the house at 1640 A Avenue about two years ago when they were looking to expand their parking lot. The house sat there for about a year without being torn down, when one day Madison had her idea.
"The church board decided that if we weren't going to tear it down, then we better fix it up. One Sunday night, I was on my way to church for evening service and I had never known that this was a property the church had bought, but I just felt the Lord prompting me that this [the house] doesn't need to be rented out. It needed to be used for the community," Madison said.
After taking some time to pray about it, her original vision for the property was that she wanted to fix the house up to become a home to foster teenage girls. The home has four bedrooms and a bathroom upstairs and one bedroom and an additional bathroom on the first floor, so it would make a good home.
Madison and five other board members who started on the project decided that while they waited on a foster parent to pair up with them, they should go ahead and make an after school program. The program would help girls get their homework done after school and every Thursday they would have a bible study.
Sharon Bales was one of the first people that Madison approached about the idea when she first had it and Bales is one of the five executive board members helping create Tabitha House.
"There have been a lot of people who have put time in to help bring the house together. The head of the church's maintenance department put months into remodeling the house even before we knew this was going to be the Tabitha House," said Bales.
Most of the people who have worked on the house or are currently working there with the children are all unpaid volunteers, according to Bales. The pair also said that they have talked about applying for grants to help pay the bills, but right now all of the donations are coming from the church.
The members of the church have been extremely supportive to the cause, some have even gone so far as to leave Tabitha House furniture in their estates as they have passed away.
"Last week, we had a garage sale and raised $400 for the house and everything at the sale were things that people had left us from their estates that we didn't need here in the house or donated items from members of the church," Madison said.
Madison hopes that members will still help donate old clothes to the house when it eventually becomes a foster home because girls are always changing. The executive board has already talked about doing an activity around the times of fall, winter and prom dances to donate old dresses to be reused. Some of the girls who have already come to the house are rather talented in cosmetics. Madison and Bales plan to ask them to come back and help the girls get ready for the dances.
As of now, the girl's coming to the house every Thursday are doing fun activities like this already. This past week, the girls had a paint and canvas night, as well as tacos for dinner before their bible study.
Twelve year old Kaylynne Martin said that she has already enjoyed the time she has spent at the house and that her favorite part about coming back each week was bringing different friends with her. Ava Loveless, 11, is one of those friends.
"Its been a fun night, I enjoyed the craft and really liked the tacos," said Loveless.
Madison said that they had hoped they could have started these activity nights and after school programs earlier in the spring semester, but there was so much to get done and prepare for that it was really a blessing that they were not ready to open until the summer. Most of the girls are from the community, but there have been girls that have come from as far as Shenandoah Middle School and Tri Jr/Sr High School that have come out for the bible study to hang out with kids in the neighborhood that attend each week.
"Once school starts, it's really going to be hard to get everything done in five hours, but we're going to jam pack as much as we can into it," Madison said as she laughed about.
She hopes to help the girls who come to the house develop character, show them that they can be independent and help them become better adults. Originally the plan was that high school girls would come to the meetings, but so far only a few have come. Madison is okay with this though because the girls that are coming each week can come to Tabitha House longer.
As much as Madison loves the Thursday night group, the ultimate goal is to get this foster home going. The girls who attend each week are more than welcome to still come over when it does get started, she said.
The home has been in touch with people from the foster care system and they are more than willing to get involved, according to Madison. The only thing they're really waiting on is having a parent show interest in coming to live in the home and mother the girls. A lot of people want to foster younger girls according to Madison, but she really wanted to help teenagers.
"My heart goes out through an experience I had with a young lady, and these girls need to be helped at this age while they're still young and impressionable. They need to learn to do the right instead of the wrong thing and through my experience with the young lady it has taught me a lot, so my heart really is with this foster home," Madison said.
To get in touch with Tabitha House, call 765-520-6671. People can also look out for their flyers to see what actitives they will be up to each month.