The House's History
In 2014, after decades of distributing meals, clothing and care to those with need, our founders Cheryl and Barry Messere met women living in tents by the river in the winter’s cold. At the time, Phoenixville had shelters for men and families; but nothing for women. Cheryl and Barry felt an immediate call. The Messere’s began to spread this news to other inspired volunteers and rallied support of agencies, churches, and organizations. They committed to establishing a transitional housing program for single women. “The House” welcomed its first participants in January 2015.
Donald J.L. Coppedge presents the 2014 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Humanitarian Award to Cheryl and Barry Messere at Phoenixville's 20th Annual Community Prayer Breakfast at Phoenixville Area Middle School.
The Next Step House Opens
After 3 years of serving the community with The House, it became clear that affordable housing in the area was extremely limited. Women at The House were making steps towards their self-sufficiency but were unable to find a feasible and affordable home. Phoenixville Women’s Outreach created a second program at a new site. Our ‘Next Step House’ is a shared living arrangement for women with independence and affordable rents. A new partnership with the Housing Authority of Chester County created subsidies for eligible residents. The Next Step House proves to be a safe, comfortable home in the same community where the women have established jobs, health networks, spiritual communities and social bonds. The first residents of our Next Step House moved in February 2020.