Lori Brent and Tanya Wright are a dynamic duo. They cook, do laundry, arrange wardrobes, give haircuts, hold support groups, lead devotionals & Bible studies, and procure resources for complete strangers. These two friends run Esther's Place, a nonprofit organization that is committed to supporting women in Statesboro and beyond. They serve single mothers, women without homes, veterans, women who have been released from prison, grieving women, and women in various other situations, and they do it all to empower women through the love of Jesus Christ.
"Jesus was the whole impetus to start it," Brent explains. She and Wright share the word of God and the hope and love of Christ to everyone who passes through their doors.
Esther's Place provides work clothes for women who may have an interview, casual clothes, shoes and accessories for general needs, and services such as free haircuts from Wright, a hair stylist with 39 years of experience.
They have a daily devotional called Mornings with God, which is held between 9:30 AM and 10:30 AM every day Esther's Place is open. On Tuesdays, they have Bible study from 2:00 PM until 3:30 PM and evening devotional time from 5:30 PM to 7:00 PM. They have a grief support group called Widow to Widow for women who have lost their husbands. These meetings occur every Wednesday from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM. They also host Statesboro Moms of Addicts Support Group (SMOAS) from 3:00 PM to 4:30 PM on the first and third Saturday of the month.
One of Brent's and Wright's favorite services they offer is to assist single mothers who may be overwhelmed with the demands of life.
"A single mom who's just struggling and needs a little break, she can drop her laundry off in the morning and we will wash, dry, and fold it," Wright says, "and they can pick it up at the end of the day when they're done working . . . with a home cooked meal."
The friends hope this lightens the mothers' to-do lists in order to spend quality time with their children at the end of a long day. Wright goes on to explain that the home has three full bathrooms that serve as safe places for homeless women and their children to take a shower.
Esther's Place was a divinely-orchestrated dream come true. Brent, originally from PA, and Wright, a native of northern CA, found themselves in Statesboro for different reasons. Wright's move was prompted by her beloved husband's death nearly twelve years ago. She and her son, who was 11 at the time, relocated to Statesboro as a result of Wright's fervent prayers.
"Alright God, I'm not going to ask why, just make something good come of this," Wright remembers. "Little by little God kept putting these little ideas to help other women, whether it be widows or single moms."
Brent relocated three years ago from the Keystone State to fulfill what she and her husband, a two-time cancer survivor, had always talked about: a move south. When her daughter decided to move to Savannah, Brent and her husband came to look at houses and decided to settle in Statesboro.
"We did not know each other until two and a half years ago," Brent explains of her friendship with Wright.
A mutual friend introduced the two, and they had the shared desire to create an organization for women in Bulloch County. The friends approached their pastor, Brandon Williams of Connection Church, and explained their dream to him. He was supportive and helped facilitate what has now become a staple for women in need in our community.
Since its inception in April of 2022, Esther's Place has served over 318 women and 171 children, provided 1,348 meals, 171 showers, 231 shopping sprees in its wardrobe, and completed 544 loads of laundry.
In addition to all Esther's Place provides for women, they hold events for their clients as well as fundraisers. In October, they had their first Barn Dance, which both agree will be an annual event. On January 23rd, they held a community low country boil, featuring live music and networking opportunities with the goal of raising funds and awareness for this local asset.
Most women in need find out about the services Esther's Place offers through partners in town such as Choices of the Heart and Foundations Resource Center, and Brent and Wright are sure to supply local food drops as well as the Statesboro Regional Library with plenty of flyers letting women know they are here in town and ready to help.
Currently, Esther's Place has a need for food to make dinners for the women or volunteers who would be willing to make a casserole and drop it off. Donations of items such as laundry detergent, fabric softener, or dryer sheets would be appreciated as well.
Nearly two years after opening their doors, Brent and Wright remain in solidarity about their purpose.
"The biggest thing for us," Wright says, "is sharing the love of Jesus and empowering women to feel good, to feel loved."
"There's no judgment here. It doesn't matter; we all have a story. Some are better and some are worse, but we all have a story," Brent says of the women Esther's Place serves. "We just love them right where they're at."
For more information about Esther's Place, please visit https://esthers-place.com/.