Muscatine Homeless Shelter Helps Kids Feel At Ease (With Help From Boots the Cat)
When children move into a homeless shelter, the transition can be traumatic. That's why directors and volunteers at the family shelter in Muscatine make sure every child is greeted by a friendly, and furry, face.
Now, Boots the Cat is the subject of a new book, written for children living at the Muscatine Center for Social Action.
As WVIK's Sarah Ritter reports, the book's release this week coincides with the center's 25th anniversary.
The Executive Director of the Muscatine Center for Social Action is Charla Shafer. She says more than 40 children could be living at the agency's homeless shelter at any given time. And those kids range from newborn babies just released from the hospital, to teenagers about to graduate from high school.
Shafer says every child that comes to the shelter has different needs. And it's important to make sure their transition is as comfortable as possible.
For example, the shelter makes sure each child's bus takes them to school as usual.
But one day, Shafer and her staff started throwing around different ideas... hoping to find a new way to comfort children moving into the shelter. They came up with the idea for a children's book, starring one of the shelter's most popular residents, Boots the Cat.
Volunteer, Becky Whitmore, wrote the story, and local artist and former shelter resident, Chris Anderson, drew the illustrations. In the book, Boots gives the child a tour of the shelter and makes them feel at home. When kids are given the book upon arrival, they'll also be given a matching blanket that goes along with the story.
Shafer also says anyone can buy the book for 20-dollars, and help support the homeless shelter.
She says the Muscatine Center for Social Action has grown exponentially since it was founded 25 years ago, and will continue to improve. It was one of three organizations in the US to receive a grant from the Annie Sloan foundation-- that will pay to renovate and paint the family shelter.
But Shafer says no matter how much the organization has changed over the years, some things never get old. Like a child, with a smile, feeling comfortable in a new home.
To support the shelter, you can order Boots the Cat merchandise, on their website, mcsaiowa.org.