IIn 1999, Sue Anne Hoffeditz was volunteering at a food pantry when in walked a woman with her two children. Her car was fully loaded with every possession she owned – she had just escaped an abusive relationship and had no safe place to go. The food pantry couldn’t provide shelter, so Hoffeditz gave the woman money for gas and food and watched her drive away.
That experience stirred Hoffeditz’s inner most sense of compassion. Shortly after this encounter she discovered there were no domestic violence shelters in Hendricks County, creating a growing concern in Hoffeditz’s heart about local women in violent relationships.
Hoffeditz knew she had to do something and was encouraged to take on the challenge by her pastor and her husband, Gary. With their support, she was determined to bring a “safe haven” for families to her beloved community. She gathered the research, visited other shelters, talked to the experts and wrote grant requests to make the dream a reality.
In time, she raised the necessary funds and a shelter was built – with no debt. In 2001 Sheltering Wings, a 68-bed faith-based domestic violence shelter in Danville, was born. The shelter provides emergency and transitional housing for women and children in domestic abuse situations. Sheltering Wings has provided safe housing for over 3,500 women and children. Additionally, the shelter’s staff has answered over 17,400 helpline calls and educated over 202,000 individuals through education and prevention programs.
Sheltering Wings’ staff credit Hoffeditz for making it all possible. She saw a need and immediately sprang into action to provide hope, healing and safety for the thousands of families at risk in their community. Women feel safe and 87 percent leave financially stable and with housing.
Hoffeditz admits that she was a bit naïve when she started this work. She didn’t really understand the struggles of women and children who have been abused. She routinely tells these women they are her heroes because they are making things better for the next generation. To these families, Hoffeditz is a friendly face, a compassionate ear and someone who truly cares about them.
“Don’t ever think you don’t have anything to offer – you do. Act when you see someone in need. Never think that one person cannot make a difference,” said Hoffeditz. “Along your journey of helping others you will discover it gives life meaning and helps you discover hidden skills and talents.”