2004: Sundari Foundation is formed by a passionate group of volunteers committed to providing sanctuary, support, education and social inclusion for homeless women and children.
2005: Foundation identifies its first building for acquisition in the heart of Overtown, the historic African American district, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami, itself one of the poorest large cities in the United States. The building is acquired in September and renovation proceeds swiftly, despite the challenges of both hurricane Wilma and Katrina. It is named “Lotus House,” after the pink lotus flower which is the universal symbol of compassion.
2006: Lotus House opens its doors on March 1st, quickly reaching its capacity of 34 “guests” as word spreads on the streets. The shelter is staffed by its volunteer director and founder, one resident manager, a part-time counselor and a dedicated core group of volunteers. Groceries are purchased at the local store and all meals are made on-site in a small efficiency kitchen by staff and guests of the shelter.
By the fall, the Foundation identifies its second building for acquisition to expand its programming to include a special maternity program for homeless pregnant women and their infants. Renovations begin.
2007: In March, Lotus House opens the doors of its new maternity building, specially designed and equipped to meet the needs of newborn infants and toddlers. With the addition of its new Maternity Program, Lotus House now houses up to 65 women and children on a daily basis.
In December, the Lotus Endowment Fund, Inc. is formed to ensure that Lotus House and other initiatives of the Foundation will serve as a resource for generations to come. It is operated exclusively to benefit the shelter and other initiatives of the Foundation and provide the capital funds needed for acquisition, renovation, expansion and launch of new programs and facilities of the Foundation. The Endowment Fund leases to the Foundation all of Lotus House facilities for $1/year.
2008: Renovation of a two-story, 1920’s duplex situated between the two residential buildings is completed and opened as the new Community Center. The center includes a professional teaching kitchen and community rooms for expanded programming, including group counseling, yoga, acupuncture, dance, game and movie nights, and a “baby and me” play corner.
2009: Foundation opens a thrift store, now operated by its wholly owned subsidiary Lotus House Thrift, LLC, which supports the shelter by providing much needed clothing for women and children,furnishings as they make the transition to their new homes, and basic job readiness and retail job training programs. It is managed by alum, Ciara Jones, and staffed entirely by Lotus House guests and alumni!
2010: Foundation renovates a portion of the first building and opens a new health and wellness clinic, operated by its wholly owned subsidiary Lotus Wellness Center, LLC. Entirely free, it is a “Good Samaritan” clinic formed under the auspices of the Health Department of the State of Florida and staffed entirely by volunteers, including the teaching doctors and medical students of the DOCS program of the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. The clinic serves as an important resource not only for the women sheltered at Lotus House and its alumni, but for uninsured, indigent women from the Overtown neighborhood.
2011: Foundation opens its third residential building to expand its Children and Families Program, bringing the number sheltered each day by Lotus House to over 110! Lotus House is serving over 68,000 meals annually and providing over 40,000 shelter bed nights.
2012: Foundation identifies a building for acquisition in the nearby Jackson Health District which will serve as an official donations center and permanently house the Lotus House Thrift Shop and the planned expansion of its job training programs, including retail, e-commerce and barista job training. Renovations commence for a planned opening in 2013. Lotus House has served over 1200 women and children to date, including over 270 children. We are the proud mother to over 85 newborns who will some day call Lotus House their first home!
2013: Foundation identifies for acquisition and renovation and opens a fourth residential building specially designed and equipped to house its homeless Youth/Teens Program, including young women ages 17-21 (and their infants in some cases) in high school (or its equivalent) and/or vocational training preparing to move onto college and careers. With the addition of the Youth Program, Lotus House houses over 160 women and children on a daily basis, and keeps on growing because we are acutely aware of the enormous unmet need for trauma-informed shelter and support for women and children in our community.
Foundation is selected by the Miami Dade County Homeless Trust to renovate and operate an additional building on nearby NW 7th avenue, as supportive housing for up to 14 women, youth and their children. This project opens in the fall of 2013, bringing the number of women and children housed by the Foundation on a daily basis to over 175.
After extensive research and staff training, Foundation adopts evidence based counseling modalities that will provide valuable insight into the special needs of the homeless women and children we serve, supporting our policy and advocacy goals for greater awareness, social inclusion and resources for homeless women and children.
2014: Lotus House continues to grow, opening a fifth residential building in the neighboring Wynwood Arts district. Lotus House is now sheltering over 180 women, youth and children on a daily basis, and keeps growing, responding to the enormous unmet need for trauma-informed shelter and support for women and children in our community. Still, Lotus House is turning away over 2000 women and children each year due to lack of space.
2015: Responding to the enormous unmet need for trauma-informed shelter and support for women and children in our community, strategic plans begin to acquire additional parcels of land adjacent to the Lotus House main campus with the goal of redeveloping and expanding the aging facilities of the main Lotus House Campus to add additional capacity. After extensive work, Lotus Village is conceived as a state of the art, comprehensive new facility designed to prevent and end homelessness. Lotus House is now sheltering over 250 women, youth and children daily. It is proud mother to 125 newborns and counting!
2016: The final parcels of land needed for expansion and redevelopment are secured, site and construction plans prepared, public hearings for rezoning fought and thanks to hundreds of passionate supporters, won unanimously, and financing obtained by Lotus Endowment Fund and its subsidiary, Lotus Village Development, LLC, for the Lotus Village project. Lotus House moves into nearby temporary facilities rented in the Overtown neighborhood. Finally, on the morning of September 15, Lotus Village broke ground in a heartwarming celebration awash with love and pink!! See our Facebook page for the latest news on our new home, scheduled for completion December 2017!