Abilene woman’s ‘gut feeling’ helps save 7 others from burning house


ABILENE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – On top of last week’s winter storm that brought busted pipes and knocked out power and water, the New Beginnings’ Ministry, who serves women escaping abuse or getting out of jail with a place to get back on their feet, suffered another loss after their house burned. 

Eight women are alive right now because Shelly Podesta trusted her gut. 

“I had a gut feeling; I knew it was the Holy Spirit,” said Podesta. “Something was telling me that something was wrong with the wall heaters. ‘We have wall heaters in our bathroom and it was cold, it was 45 degrees.”  

Podesta said she couldn’t sleep, and at 9:52 p.m. went to turn off the heaters upstairs. 

“It looked like nothing was wrong, it was on low, and then I heard popping like a fireplace popping, and then I put my hand on the wall and it was hot,” said Podesta. 

Meanwhile the other seven women who lived in the house were asleep. 

“It was cold all day, and the only heat we were going to have was the heat from the bathroom heaters, the gas heaters,” said Patti Vick.

So Podesta woke up Vick and the rest of the residents.  

“If it wasn’t for Shelly being persistent and getting our attention, we wouldn’t have gotten out,” said Vick. 

By 10:30, Podesta says she watched the roof collapse, since Founder and Executive Director of New Beginnings’, Missy Denard, was told there was nothing that could be done. 

“Because of the water issue, there was really nothing that they could do but just keep it contained to just the house so it didn’t go to the neighbors, and just let it burn,” said Denard. 

Now, these women who came to New Beginnings to start their lives over will have to do it once again after losing all their belongings.  

“We all got out safe with our lives, so that’s what I am grateful for. If I went to sleep, we’d probably be planning funerals,” said Podesta.   

The Ministry has four houses in Abilene, but this one was the biggest, which stored the items for their biggest fundraiser, leaving them now to ask for donations. 

They have set up Mercy House Fire Account with Haskell National Bank, or you can Venmo Denard directly at @Missy-Denard, or click the link.  

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