Mandela House: A Hand and a Home For Pregnant Addicts

A Hand and a Home For Pregnant Addicts Minnie Thomas provides meat loaf, reality treatment and straight talk

The day after welfare checks arrive in her East Oakland, Calif., neighborhood, Minnie Thomas sees the ghosts of mothers shuffling in the winter chill. They are emaciated from crack-cocaine binges, and their hair is wrapped in rags to hide patches where clumps have fallen out. Thomas sees them glance at the children draped carelessly on their hips, then down at the sidewalk. "A woman's eyes are a window to her soul," she says. "Those eyes tell you clear as day that they've blown their check on crack."

Nestled in a tidy, working-class area just three miles away is Mandela House, a...

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