By Ginny McCabe
Special to ASSIST News Service
This new Roadside Attractions film celebrates the life and work of Several Sources Shelters Founder, Leader and Women’s Issues Advocate, Kathy DiFiore. DiFiore has worked hand-in-hand with Mother Teresa and her powerful influence changed the shelter laws in New Jersey. She has also been honored by three American presidents and recognized at the UN for her life-changing work.
Award-winning filmmaker Ronald Krauss directed the film and penned the movie’s original screenplay, while spending a year in one of DiFiore’s shelters for pregnant teens. His writing reflects upon their lives and chronicles the challenging journey. Based on a true story, Gimme Shelter centers on a 16-year-old pregnant teenager, Agnes “Apple” Bailey, (Vanessa Hudgens) who flees a drug-ridden mother (Rosario Dawson) in search of a better life of her own. Turned away by her Wall Street father, (Brendan Fraser) Apple is forced into a life on the streets. The film is rated PG-13.
“(Gimme Shelter) will remind young women that they have choices,” said the film’s star Vanessa Hudgens. “When we see someone like Kathy doing a great job serving others, we should recognize and honor them. We’re all in this together and when we embrace that we begin to come together as a community.”
What makes this inspirational drama so riveting is that DiFiore’s own life story and experiences are as compelling as any blockbuster film. As a suburban wife and mother, she escaped an abusive marriage, which left her herself homeless and on the street. In reclaiming her life, DiFiore’s recovery fueled a desire to help others turn their lives around. When she made her home a shelter for un-wed, pregnant women, the State of New Jersey raided it and levied huge fines for running an illegal boarding house. As a devout Catholic Christian woman, she decided to reach out to none other than Mother Teresa.
“Together they fought the state and managed to change the law,” said Ronald Krauss. “Now she runs five shelters in New Jersey that give people a chance to get back on their feet by providing them with education and helping them get jobs. Her shelters are run 100 percent on donations, without any public funding, for 35 years now.”
DiFiore first welcomed a pregnant teen in her own home in 1981. Since that time, she has tirelessly devoted her life to helping others. Her faith-inspired testimony continues to offer compassion and spread hope.
“Through God’s Grace, we save babies’ lives and shelter their young mothers while providing education and ongoing compassionate support services including our Pregnancy Sonogram Center. We further educate young people to make healthy life choices. We also shelter women who are homeless, sick and elderly as we help them to restore their dignity,” said DiFiore, about the primary purpose behind her life’s work.
“Women who go against the tide and have their baby become that child’s hero. It comes down to their choices, but it’s not always an easy road. Many of them are forced to leave their family and turn to a shelter. I can’t help but admire them. They are changing the ‘culture of death’ into a culture of life and I want to help them have a better life,” DiFiore said.
For more about the movie, or to find a theater near you, go to www.GimmeShelterTheMovie.com.