Mollie Reis (1933-2013)
By ALISON ALEWINE
When I think of Carriage House, I think of Mollie Reis. If she were not there from day one, it was soon after. She made sure that this shelter was a lovely welcoming home to all the women and children who passed through the doors.
She started out as an extra pair of hands doing whatever was needed but soon began to let us know what was needed and that she was going to meet those needs. A handicapped accessible bathroom was a need and we were (by Mollie’s standards) not responding fast enough, so she did it! That year at HAC’s Annual Meeting among the awards given was one to Mollie Reis: the Golden Toilet Award!–a small, gold replica of a toilet to acknowledge her achievement.
If you have been to Carriage House or seen a picture of it, you know it appears more like a Bed & Breakfast than a shelter. Mollie made sure for 20 plus years that the inside matched the veneer. She got decorators to donate time and materials to make each bedroom special for each guest. Paint, paper, rugs, pictures, comforters – each room could have been featured in Better Homes and Gardens.
Whenever things began to look less than fresh, Mollie did each one over again. Remodeling the kitchen was a favorite activity. Always done in hues of blue and purple (Mollie’s colors!) and the walls were filled with special touches to make the area look both homey and tasteful.
The fitness center at Carriage House is another of Mollie’s gifts. She realized that physical activity was a necessary component of life especially for stress relief. Who could be more in need of stress relief than single mothers of small children who were struggling and homeless. Her friends always knew about the needs and assisted Mollie in meeting them. Saying no to Mollie or her plan was not an option.
Mollie’s oversight and fundraising and gifts to Carriage House were each special but her persona was the teaching tool for clients and staff. No Pollyanna but more of a Mary Poppins, Mollie was a force for good to be reckoned with, and her HAC family will miss her.