JOPLIN, Mo. — A transitional living facility that provides a home for women and their children is a national award winner.

Loving Grace is now the recipient of the Head Start Hero Award. It recognizes organizations that partner with Head Start to provide exceptional service for clients.

The religious-based ministry provides housing for 17 to 24-year-old moms and their children, for up to 21 months, to help them get on their own two feet.

Loving Grace executive director Melissa Thomas says it would be hard for them to do what they do without the help of economic security, which operates the Head Start program.

“Because they have professionals that come in and help with the young ladies and follow them so we know they are safe and that they’re getting the parenting skills they need when they leave here,” said Melissa Thomas, Exec. Director, Loving Grace.

“Well, just their mission to help equip women and support women in staying with their children and just becoming the best moms possible is why we feel like they’re deserving of being called a Head Start Hero,” said Stephanie Massey, Economic Security Corp. of Southwest Area.

Loving Grace has the ability to house up to 15 moms and their kids.

Thomas says some of the women accepted into the ministry have aged out of foster care or have nowhere else to go.