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'Sometimes you just need hope' | Nonprofit helps moms regain custody of their children

Reunite Ministry is now officially open and ready to help moms get back on their feet.

LOUISVILLE, Tenn. — Autumn Lefleur is a mom and she loves it.

"Seeing them grow and change and being able to experience that is special," she said. 

But Lefleur's story would come with some challenges. and some pain.

"I'm in recovery and I've lost custody of all four of my kids," she said. 

Her kids now live with her parents -- and thanks to Reunited Ministry -- she gets to see and be around them, too.

"I've been here for a couple months now," she said. 

Reunite is a nonprofit seeking to help moms get back on their feet so they can regain custody of their children.

"It was the first time I had been to a place that has offered help in letting me make choices that are simply to better my life and my kids," Lefleur said. 

Tionna Green, Jill Hepperly and Kathy Morton are the women behind that help.

"Reunite Ministries is a faith based organization that serves mother who have children in the foster care system and or kinship care," Hepperly said. 

Jill is a foster mom herself and has been for several years.

"I definitely support the foster care system but at the same time I always believed there was a void in helping the biological families regain custody," she said. 

That is exactly what the three of them created. Reunite is a live-in facility.
Moms and their families can get counseling, parenting classes  and education and job skills. It has also developed relationships with the University of Tennessee, Maryville College and the Department of Children's Services.

 Lefleur is the first mom to experience all of it, which she doesn't take lightly.

"I think it's important because you have to give people some kind of hope," she said. 

She has been at the facility for a couple of months now but still has a few months to go. And while the journey is by no means easy, she wants other moms to know it is absolutely worth it.

"I want the mothers out there that are struggling to know there are people out there, sometimes it takes a phone call or a leap of faith," she said. 

Reunite only has one mom right now and is working on bringing in another. You can find more info on its resources and how you can get involved here.

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