Heart of the High Plains: Eveline’s Sunshine Cottage helping two generations at at a time

Heart of the High Plains

AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — For 19 years, Eveline’s Sunshine Cottage has helped to house single mothers and their families—not only providing them with support and community, but also a college education—helping two generations at once.

“This program literally changed my life. When I came in, I was just about homeless. I owed rent money to where I was living. I had no idea how i was gonna pay it, was getting evicted,” said Jeree Morris, a resident at Eveline’s Sunshine Cottage.

Morris said she has now lived in the cottage with her four young children for four years.

“All of a sudden, I had this beautiful home with nice things that I could call my own,” Morris said. “I came into this very supportive environment. It took off so much of the financial burden being able to go to school and having this home to come home to—the kids having what they need.”

Eveline Rivers-McCoy founded the program in 2001. Now, she said 21 women have graduated.

“So, we’re proud of the accomplishment and what we set out to do and at first, I was hesitant—Yes, my idea. Yes, we had a way. Yes, we had volunteers that love what we were doing, but I had to see it proved,” Rivers-McCoy said. “Our very first mom to graduate, graduated with a 3.8 out of a four point, working full-time and going to school full-time and I thought, you know what? I think we’ve hit on what we could do to help our homeless and hopeless single parent moms.”

Before the program, Morris said she lived a much different life.

“My dreams were just to make the rent every month, you know, to have a gallon of milk in the ice box. I had no, no plans on anything after that,” said Morris.

But now, she’s a psychology major with a bright future.

“I hope to work to start working out at the halfway house here in Amarillo, with people straight out of prison, with addiction issues,” Morris added. “I would like to counsel and then from there, possibly my own private practice eventually.”

Rivers-McCoy said some of the women have taken other paths but there have been zero failures in the program. She said in some way every woman in the program has succeeded and made her life better, along with the lives of her children.

“Our graduates are showing their children how to do the same thing,” Rivers-McCoy added. “I have some of my early moms who their children have already put themselves through college. That’s what we want. We want to see the second generation.”

According to Rivers-McCoy, the program also fosters a sense of inclusion, by providing extra support during hard times, like final exams or when money gets low at the end of the month. The community at the cottage comes together to provide nutritious food and childcare as needed.

Morris’ best friend previously graduated from the program, and her kids are doing well. The same is true of Morris’ sister and her two children.

“All the women here are being changed into productive members that eventually one day, we’re going to be able to give back to our communities and our kids are going to go on to be productive and be able to give back to the community then,” Morris siad. “You know, a mother changed is a child changed, and that’s a generation changed.”

Rivers-McCoy said because of the coronavirus pandemic, Eveline’s Sunshine Cottage was unable to host their largest fundraiser this year. If you would like to donate, click here.

The non-profit has eight furnished properties and will soon finish their ninth, allowing them to house up to 10 families simultaneously.

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