ENCINITAS — Last year Encinitas resident Annette “Nettie” Nelson used part of her $200,000 earnings as a grand finale winner on the reality show “The Moment of Truth” to start Nettie’s House in Vista.
The nonprofit 501 (c) 3 provides transitional housing and referral support services to women and children who are affected by alcoholism, drug addiction, domestic violence and poverty.
So that more North County women can be served, Nelson is actively seeking board members with fundraising experience to help generate donations to expand the program.
Originally called Warmlands Manor, Nettie’s House presently serves nine women and four children. In addition to providing a sober home in a safe neighborhood, the program offers educational assistance, basic computer and software instruction and job search assistance. Counseling is provided on a referral basis.
Special workshops are facilitated by volunteers in the areas of nutrition, money management, self-defense and yoga.
The minimum stay is six months.
“There is no maximum as long as women are doing something for themselves like attending school or going through counseling,” Nelson said.
The cost is $495 a month for room and board, plus $50 for each child. The social service agency Lifeline tries to provide temporary financial assistance for those who are unable to pay.
“The only requirement is to stay clean and sober and have the desire to better yourself,” Nelson said. “We get a lot of referrals from Lifeline, the Community Resource Center, rehab facilities and word-of-mouth.”
Nelson has received a lot of support for her project from New Venture Church where she is a member. Last year the congregation hosted Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas party. In addition, they donated 100 bags of groceries.
For most of her career, Nelson worked for the county of Los Angeles. Her last position was director of health information management.
If she looks familiar, it’s probably because she can be seen in popular television commercials throughout the day ranging from dental hygiene products to vocational schools.
“It’s my goal to meet Tyler Perry,” she confessed. “I’d love to be in one of his movies.”
Nelson explains that her appearance on “The Moment of Truth” two years ago turned painful when the alleged drunk driver who nearly killed her 9-year-old son in the 1980s was escorted on the stage. The reality show, which aired from January 2008 to August 2009, had contestants answer a series of increasingly personal and awkward questions to receive cash prizes.
Now 34, her son continues to live with the repercussions of a fractured skull.
“Witnesses at the time reported that the driver took a rag, wiped the blood off the car and left the scene,” she said. “Someone got his license plate and he was arrested.”
Nelson said at the time she couldn’t bring herself to attend the court case to confront the man.
When he appeared on the show, she was taken back when he explained that he had been hurt as well.
“Then the host asked my son, ‘How do you feel about the guy? He’s been suffering, too,’” she said.
Her son explained that his mother taught him that as a Christian he needed to forgive anyone who asked forgiveness. The two men shook hands and hugged.
Though it was difficult, Nelson also forgave the man.
Today she has no regrets.
“The show allowed me to open Nettie’s House,” she said. “This gives me the opportunity, for example, to rescue a woman off the street and provide a safe haven for her.”
To make a donation or volunteer with Nettie’s House, call (760) 298-2839. Donations can also be made using PayPal at nettieshouse.org.
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