Grace Stuckey was a young woman when she purchased Sojourner Center’s first home.
When she heard more than 40 years ago about a group of women who were looking to create a shelter for women and families who were fleeing domestic violence, she knew she had the perfect place.
“It was a place where the women could walk downtown to get jobs, where I knew their children would be safe. I even had 15 units that were already cleaned and furnished,” she said.
The founders of Sojourner Center had already toured and reviewed multiple locations, but on the evening they were scheduled to vote on a property, Stuckey arrived and told them not to vote because she had the perfect place.
“I had the belief that I had the perfect property. I pitched it to them and I was right,” she said.
Sojourner Center moved into the property in the late 1970s, and it was Stuckey’s first major project of her career.
Stuckey helped Sojourner Center get its start by waiving mortgage payments for the property for the first ninety days, personally carrying the mortgage.
Even before she became involved with Sojourner Center, she had noticed the discrepancy in the number of shelters for men versus women in the community — and noted that there were no crisis centers for women at all.
“It kind of upset me as a young woman that there weren’t as many places for women to go,” she said. “Arizona really needed a project for women and their kids.”
Over the years, Stuckey’s family has become involved with Sojourner Center as well. Her father, Jay Stuckey, became involved with the center, and her sons have done community service there as well.
Stuckey, now in her 70s, is retired and is in the process of reconnecting with Sojourner Center as a volunteer. She has always had a passion for supporting women, and providing children with the confidence and support they need to be successful. She looks forward to her new role at the center.
“I do very much believe in Sojourner,” she said. “I believe in giving any kind of support I can to women and children.”