Photo of Constance Collins

Constance Collins

Lotus House

 

Constance Collins, JD, Since 2004, Constance Collins has served as President of the Sundari Foundation, Inc., a non-denominational 501c3 public charity, best known as the Lotus House Women’s Shelter, and its supporting foundations, Lotus Endowment Fund, Inc., Lotus Village Development, LLC, Lotus Village, II, LLC, and Lotus Supporting Foundation, Inc. Ms. Collins also serves as the Executive Director of the National Women’s Shelter Network, a powerful network of women’s shelters from across the country formed for information sharing, showcasing best practices and innovation, advancing service driven research and resources to end and prevent homelessness, and advocating for and elevating the voices of women experiencing homelessness and the shelters that serve them. A lawyer and businesswoman prior to founding Lotus House, Constance has been a full-time volunteer for the Lotus family of charitable organizations since 2004, founding and overseeing the development, operations, programming, services, research and growth of the Lotus Village and its planned expansion in the Children’s Village at Lotus Village, an innovative new model neighborhood children’s resource center to end and prevent homelessness by investing in children and their families.

In the all new, state of the art, comprehensive homeless services facility in Lotus Village and its planned expansion in the Children’s Village, Lotus House is setting new standards on a national level with trauma informed, evidence based, best practices, and proven strategies to ending and preventing homelessness that put children first and respond sensitively to the gender specific needs of sheltered guests. Winner of the 2016
Non-Profit Innovation Award of the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce and 2018 Project of the Year Award of the Urban Land Institute Southeast Florida/Caribbean, Lotus Village is a life-changing prototype for the future, designed as a mixed-use “village” combining state of the art shelter facilities and holistic, trauma-informed, supportive services to heal, nurture and uplift children and families experiencing homelessness. With capacity to shelter over 500 women and children nightly, this trend-setter includes: solution focused individual needs assessments and social services supports, individual and group counseling, child and family therapy, and social services advocacy; a working classroom kitchen sized to deliver a half million meals a year; an urban garden nourishing body, mind and spirit; a healing hands salon to soothe and uplift; a computer library for adult education, after school programming and job readiness training and employment assistance; yoga, Reiki, meditation, dance and exercise classes; an art and activities lab offering alternative pathways to healing and creative expression; and welcoming play spaces for children throughout the village. Aptly named, Lotus Village, because it takes a village, this new facility is the first of its kind on a national level, the more so because it includes a trauma-informed, therapeutic children’s wellness center including six classrooms offering early child care and education for newborns to age three, with a therapeutic overlay of child-parent therapy, play therapy, parenting classes, resource coordination, and linkages to key community partners to strengthen and uplift children and families. Enriched with a health clinic for women and children, Lotus Village is deeply embedded in and serving the neighborhood it calls home, preventing and bringing an end to homelessness with a full range of medical and dental services. So much more than a shelter, Lotus Village is a center for innovative, best practices, research and advocacy for public and social policies to raise awareness of the gender specific needs of women and youth experiencing homelessness and advance the health, wellbeing and school readiness of children experiencing homelessness, transforming trauma into a window of opportunity to strengthen children and families, and offers a platform for deeper community engagement, collaboration, shared learning and dialogue, on a local, state and national level.

The expansion of Lotus House in the Children’s Village at Lotus Village is centered on the establishment of a model neighborhood children’s resource center serving the sheltered children of Lotus House and the children and families of its beloved Overtown community. The Children’s Village will provide enriched holistic educational and therapeutic supports, diverse programming, greater access to health care, legal and social services, and a wide range of community resources. Utilizing an innovative collective impact model, the Children’s Village will host Lotus House and other Overtown based non-profits and community-based organizations historically serving Overtown and surrounds. Ground breaking for this state of the art, 75,000 sf, trauma informed, neighborhood children’s resource center is planned for the Spring of 2023, with occupancy in 2024.

Ms. Collins’ work on behalf of the Foundation was preceded by over twenty-two years of business, finance, real estate and legal experience. Constance served as the chief operating and financial officer, general counsel, and co-founder of a full service real estate investment advisory firm, Urban Investments Advisors, LLC (and its predecessor Starwood Urban Investments) and real estate holding company, Starwood Urban, LLC, and its subsidiaries, responsible for the management and operation of a national commercial real estate investment portfolio, overseeing growth and value-added strategies, development, financing, accounting, and reporting for portfolio revenues, until the successful disposition of those investments in 2005. Prior to Starwood, Ms. Collins was in private law practice, representing institutional investors and lenders in structuring, negotiating and documenting complex real estate, business and financial transactions, credit recovery, litigation oversight, and repositioning of investment properties.

The Miami Foundation