Clara Ward’s story was featured on last night’s edition of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.
Ms. Ward, age 70, operates Clara’s Way, a youth development and family center, in Erie, PA for abused and neglected children. Before the show came to Erie, Ms. Ward funded the center out of her $640 monthly income. She did it while confined to a wheelchair.
In a press release, ABC said they selected the “indomitable” Ms. Ward because:
Having experienced a childhood of hardship [abuse], Clara vowed to make a difference for the next generation. Neither modest means, nor the challenges of Myostenio Gradi, a degenerative muscular disease, have stopped her so far. For decades, Clara has put her personal needs second to feeding, clothing and nurturing children in her home, organizing charitable drives, arranging field trips, tutoring, giving cooking lessons and much more. But the rampant disrepair of her crumbling two-story home ~ including a cracked foundation, a leaky roof, peeling walls and a faulty sewage line ~ increasingly threatens the life-long mission that means so much to Clara and the people in her neighborhood. Furthermopre, the house lacks the wheelchair accessibility she needs, requiring her to stay with her daughter [Cynthia Ward-Moore] and head back and forth each day.
Mary J. Blige Was the Celebrity Volunteer
Nine-time Grammy Award-winner Mary J. Blige, who established the Foundation for the Advancement of Women Now (FFAWN), was frequently moved to tears by Ms. Ward’s work. Ms. Blige is a survivor of child abuse and molestation. FFAWN’s mission is to provide resources and sanctuary to physically and emotionally abused women. Ms. Blige spent time talking about the importance of self-esteem with the little girls served by Clara’s Way.
Clara’s Way Has a New Home
Ms. Ward and her clients have a new home. It has two bedrooms, four bathrooms, two kitchens (one for Ms. Ward and one for the center), and a basketball court. There’s a new elevator so that Ms. Ward can reach the basement which is a storeroom for donations to Clara’s Way. The home is designed to give Ms. Ward maximum freedom to live and work. JET-TV in Erie reported that Ms. Ward hopes viewers get the message:
I hope they’ll get to know that love is the best policy in life. If they love and share that love and spread that love. . .And giving and caring for one another, that we’ll have a better world to live in.
You can help keep the doors of Clara’s Way by visiting their web site to make a donation.
Bravo, Clara Ward! Bravo, Mary J. Blige! Bravo, Maleno Development!