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The True Story Behind ‘Gimme Shelter’

Kathy DiFiore

Zenit - published on 02/02/14 - updated on 06/08/17

An interview with DiFiore, whose shelters for women with crisis pregnancies was the inspiration for the movie.

Agnes “Apple” Bailey (Vanessa Hudgens) flees her abusive mother (Rosario Dawson) and is turned away by her Wall Street father (Brendan Fraser) but finds help through a hospital chaplain (James Earl Jones), who ultimately leads her to one of the Several Sources shelters started by Kathy DiFiore (Ann Dowd).

The film tells the true story of DiFiore, a devout Catholic who left her Wall Street job when she felt God was asking her for more. What began as DiFiore’s offer to take one pregnant teenager into her home has become a group of shelters and a network of resources for women who need help.

ZENIT asked DiFiore about the film and her ministry.

What is it like to see your life on the big screen? Were you happy with the presentation?

As I watch the struggles of Apple (the pregnant teen so well portrayed by Vanessa Hudgens), I vividly see and understand the desperate need for more shelters in this country for young, often homeless and abused pregnant women. This is a story that hundreds of thousands of teens live in our country every year.

The story was based on director/writer/producer Ronald Krauss’ living experience for one year as he wrote the screen play while staying within our Several Sources Shelters community. His work is more than “based on a true story.” It is the lives we live at the Several Sources Shelters every day. We love our work, and Ron’s presentation perfectly and professionally depicts the reality of the lives of our young mothers, their lives, past, present and future. 

The film shows how sometimes the very women you are trying to help are the first ones to resist the assistance you're trying to give. Is that reflective of what happens in real life?

Yes. Sometimes the young women have problems with community living and our rules, but the vast majority of times, after a few days as they make friends with the other mothers, they make new friends who eventually become friends for the rest of their lives. Ultimately, our goal is to help them become good mothers, gain an education and, most importantly, develop a personal relationship with God. We always tell them that when they leave, they will have a baby in their arms, but they must also have God and His Holy Word in their hearts so that they can teach their babies about Him. Children basically learn from their parents their faith by example. I tell them that I don’t want to be allowed into Heaven to only find out later that they or their children didn’t get in because they forgot God and didn’t teach their children. 

Could an ordinary person start a shelter like you did? Should they?

We have a FREE “How to Open a Shelter Kit” on our website ( As of this date, 12 people have contacted us for a kit. We desperately need more shelters throughout the U.S. Also, go on to find our listing by state of the 550-plus maternity homes in case you hear of a young pregnant woman in need of help.

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