Kathy DiFiore is the real-life woman at the heart of the soon-to-be released movie "Gimme Shelter." DiFiore has helped hundreds of young, pregnant women bring their children into the world and along the way has worked with such figures as Mother Teresa. She spoke with The Christian Post about her work with pregnant teens as well as the film and its depiction of her work with one particular young lady.
CP: How many girls have you been a "mother" to?
KD: As a Christian, I believe that the Holy Bible is correct in that someday we will be judged and that Jesus is preparing a place for me when I leave this earth. When I go to my place, I want to see pictures all of the people I have helped and the good work I have done. And then I'll take the time and we'll count and count and count … and then I'll be able to answer that question. That's not my style – my style is to work on fixing today's problem and then tomorrow's and the day after.
Could you imagine someone asking God how many miracles you've performed? The only time I put a number on things is at Christmas, when I need to know how many kids I need to provide for.
CP: What gives you the strength to keep doing this work?
KD: It definitely is the Holy Spirit and God. I started my career working for Him 33 years ago after an abusive marriage; I was homeless for a while. I kept praying the prayer of St. Assisi, and then as the dark became lighter, I got a job and was able to buy a small house and as soon as I got in the house, I sat in the living room and wrote out a blank check and told God, "You can have everything I have. What do you want me to do?" It's like a partnership; He'd never let me down, and I do my best not to let Him down.
CP: Were you happy with the film and the depiction of your life and the lives of the girls?
KD: It was extremely well done. It was for me, a little miracle that was handed to us with a bow on top. The director, Ron Krauss, was very, very sensitive. He spent a lot of time at the shelters; I never wanted the publicity or to exploit the girls. But Ron came to volunteer one Christmas and in a way, he hasn't left since. He won over all of our trust and eventually came up with the idea of a film and said that what was happening here needed to be told. And not just for our organization but for all those that are working across the country, the unsung heroes that are saving lives every day.
Vanessa Hudgens, who plays "Apple" in the movie, actually stayed with us and was tutored by our mothers at the house and she learned about the lives of these individual women and how difficult was to find us here at the shelter and stay here. She was totally emerged in our culture, and by the time it came for her to act, she felt these girls' stories and pain.
CP: You chose to have some of the girls from your shelter actually featured in the movie – was that something important for you to do?
KD: Four of them, and all 23 of the babies were featured as well. I was the baby-wrangler and it was a beautifully done part of the film. It was Ron's idea – they actually filmed scenes here at the shelter. In the beginning, the girls loved filming and being on-screen, but then as they realized how much work it was, they wanted out of the project. Ron really had his work cut out for him and managed to keep them in the final project.
CP: What happened to the real-life "Apple" after she left your shelter?
KD: Apple was based on 60 percent a real girl who is now a house mother and helps me. She's more like my daughter now. The other 40 percent is a Wall Street girl whose baby was conceived by a gang member, and her dad was very upset. What the director did when he combined the script was to take facets of the teen girls' lives in order to make one complete person. This film has helped the original Apple just blossom, and the Wall Street daughter has bonded with her family. The original Apple may have the acting bug for now. She has a heart of gold – she's only 22.
When she came into the shelter, I wasn't here yet because I had a meeting but Ron met her. She was sitting outside in the cold, and Ron began talking to her and invited her inside. I was surprised to see her, but Ron told me that she was young and pregnant. The Holy Spirit told me to tell Ron that he could tell her that she could stay. His heart shattered when she hugged him and he saw that desperation. If you come here, you walk around, you'll feel the presence of God and the angels. There's no place like this shelter.
Some of the girls leave too soon, and we know that they're not stable just yet. I do work for women of all ages. I have a day center for women in Newark, and I bring the young, pregnant women to them once a month in order that they can cook for them and learn from them. We work with the homeless women – it's been around for 15 years – I started that with Mother Teresa's inspiration and help. For me, God has blessed me so much that I don't want to let Him down in any way. I want to do the work He has prepared for me. If there is one lesson that I would want people to learn is "When you work for God and try to do what He wants, He'll make sure it gets done." Hopefully it will help people be more courageous to do things for God, no matter what that is.
To learn more about Kathy DiFiore and Several Sources Shelters, click HERE.
Watch a trailer for the film "Gimme Shelter" HERE: