CLEVELAND, Ohio—A white and purple house that stands in East Cleveland is more than just a home— it’s Bessie’s Place—a safe haven for young women aging out of foster care who have no other place to go.

  • Bessie’s Place provides shelter and guidance to young women entering adulthood
  • The program has helped 50 women since its founding in 2015
  • The programs is funded by donations and contributions from the city and Cuyahoga County

This home is a fresh start.

“Our young people that age out of foster care often have challenges… the same challenges everybody else has… they just don’t have the family support to walk them through it,” said Tonya Perkins Stoudermire, founder, Bessie’s Place. “And so, we wrap our arms around them and nurture them. That’s the beginning of our mission statement, is to nurture them and nurture them, and if they can have the energy and the courage to access those resources that are available to them.” 

Perkins Stoudermire started Bessie’s Place back in 2015 in honor of her late grandmother Bessie Perkins. 

Since then, about 50 women have been helped by the program. 

The programs is funded by donations and contributions from the city and Cuyahoga County. 

Their mission is to nurture, educate, empower and provide low-income housing for these young women.

Stoudermire calls them “Bessie’s Angels.”

“All young people when they get to be the age of 18 they are done with being told what to do, ya know,” said Perkins Stoudermire. “They do what they wanna do, but they don’t know how, and so that’s what we do. We give them the how, because as an adult, you have way more responsibility than you did when you were a kid. And so, now they are out here and they don’t have the proper instruction.”

At Bessie’s Place, you get your own bedroom and share common areas. Plus, there are chores to be done as well.

On the walls you’ll see positive, encouraging messages to inspire the ladies. 

And besides a home, Bessie’s place provides workshops even after the women move out. 

“Every workshop we give the young ladies, we make sure they have a hot meal,” said Perkins Stoudermire. “We make sure that they get a gift certificate. We do transportation. We take young people to the laundromat. So, we have a whole variety of services that we want to be able to continue.” 

Stoudermire says the program is doing so well that another Bessie’s Place will be coming this fall to help other young women who need help. 

“Because I don’t know anybody that got where they got by themselves,” said Perkins Stoudermire. “And so, when people want to interview me or they want to call me an Everyday Hero, to me, it means that they are hearing the message and that one more person, we’ll be able to serve one more person. We’ll be able to change one more young person’s life, and I’m doing what I’m supposed to do between the dashes.”