Spreading Holiday Cheer

boot boxes 15

Karen Parrish (Left) with Diana Clouder (Right) holding up one of the prepared gift boxes.

Every year for 32 years without fail, the congregation of Cypress United Methodist Church delivers 57 special parcels for our residents. Packed in boot boxes bedecked in bright paper, residents receive full size toiletries and hair care products, lipstick, eye shadow, perfume, nail polish, a sewing kit, a pen and notepad, and a pair of slippers knit by one of the men in the church. Each box also includes a Christmas card and candy canes wishing our residents a happy holiday.

This holiday tradition began when Nancy Willis, a member of Cypress United Methodist Church heard a member of The Women’s Home staff speak of our residents’ need to the congregation, then known as Airline United Methodist Church. What began as a simple call for items has become a yearlong project that brings the members of the church closer. The group gathers donations throughout the year, collecting them at monthly meetings where they send out a call for each need at a time. Any items still missing from the list when it’s time to wrap are purchased in bulk. This tradition of giving continued even during the transitional period when Airline United Methodist Church closed and the group moved to Cypress United Methodist Church. “It’s a come together project for all of us,” Karen Parrish said when she and Diana Clouder came with Bob Willis, Nancy Willis’ husband, and Nonnie Sherrod to drop off the gift boxes.

The project started at a time when it wasn’t certain our residents would receive any gifts for the season. “It’s rewarding giving someone what they might not have otherwise.” Diana said. Nancy is still involved with the gift project she set in motion three decades ago, though her health keeps her from the helm. Diana and Karen, who have gone to church with Nancy for years, naturally found themselves involved with the project with no intention to stop helping anytime soon.  “It’s such a rewarding project, you can’t just not do it” Diana said. “We don’t want to stop, we’re already talking about next year.” Karen added.

 

Celebrating a Milestone

Capital Campaign

 Karen George, Capital Campaign Chair (left) and Brenda White, President of The Women’s Home Board of Directors (right)

Adele and Ber Pieper graciously opened their home on Thursday, November 20 for the exciting announcement that The Women’s Home had not only achieved, but surpassed the magic halfway mark toward our goal of $22 million of capital expansion.  The celebration included those tied the closest to The Home: our Board of Directors, Advisory Board members and Leadership Circle contributors.  The buzz of conversation was all positive about the remarkable growth of The Home’s capacity and impact on the community.  The room was filled with those who had seen us through three different capital campaigns over 25 years alongside those who just recently became influential to the mission. This group was collectively responsible for reaching this incredible milestone.  Funding from individuals, private foundations and government sources all are combined to meet our total.  Led by our Capital Campaign chairs, Karen and Larry George there was plenty of support, endorsement and the opening of doors to help with our achievements to date.  We are especially proud of the Tax Credit award that we received because of incredible community support displayed at City Hall earlier in the year.

The money from the capital campaign will support the construction of our WholeLife™ Service Center and a new 84-unit, two and three bedroom affordable supportive housing complex for women and their families. The new facilities will be up the street from our Jane Cizik Garden Place, which provides supportive housing in one bedroom units. The new family complex, using the same highly successful management techniques of Jane Cizik Garden Place, will enable families who have struggled against rising housing costs to maintain a permanent residence.

The WholeLife Service Center will provide educational and healthcare services for the community. These services will include enriching after school and summer programs for elementary school children. Children’s programs will include creative movement, art classes and nature classes in the 14,000 sq. ft. Certified Outdoor Classroom. The adult education and workforce development programs will be able to serve over 2,600 adults a week. Services for adults will include Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Education Development (GED), English as Second Language (ESL), and college courses in 4 classrooms with flexible walls, which will seat a total of 80 persons. The WholeLife Service Center will also include a 30-unit computer lab.

The healthcare clinic inside the WholeLife Service Center will provide behavioral and physical health services for children and adults. Healthcare will include psychoeducational support groups facilitated by The Women’s Home staff and other partners. The Women’s Home will partner with other organizations in the community to provide these support services. This new project will help build a thriving community by helping residents build whole lives for themselves and their families.

We expect to have groundbreaking ceremonies in March, followed by construction that should last from a full year to eighteen months.

Restyling Lives

SoK

SoK Salon owner Alden Clark and general manager Tim Auburn love the work they do with The Women’s Home. A supporter of The Home for four years, Alden has helped organize and host fundraisers including 2013’s One Billion Rising event, for the last four years has closed SoK for all the stylists to come and provide hair styling for our reNew and reDux show, is one of our annual gala’s underwriters and plays an integral role on our spiritual development team. Tim with his long background in the customer service industry and hotel and restaurant management has hosted multiple brown bag lunches with our residents, coaching them on how to take advantage of present opportunities to achieve their career goals.

Alden first heard of The Women’s Home while studying for his Masters in Feminist Theology at Southern Methodist University. The Home’s model and success rate kept appearing in national studies on recovery research and Alden realized we were in his own backyard. Fate gave a nudge when one of SoK’s regular clients began working at The Home and recruited Alden and Tim for volunteer work. Both of them connected with The Home’s mission of recovery and helping women for their own reasons. A close member of Tim’s family benefitted from a similar treatment program in their time of struggle years ago and Tim says “knowing there was someone to help him, made me want to give back, what The Home stands for matters to me in helping out.” Alden, a Liberation Theologian, is a strong advocate for gender equality and the support and empowerment of women. “Anytime I can find something liberating women from oppression I’m all about it.”

Alden’s immersive and interactive approach to spiritual exploration using role playing and activities has made him a favorite of our spiritual program participants. Helping our residents gain a hands on connection with the world and themselves on a deeper level allows Alden to use his theological training to give back to the community. Tim, with his wide and varied career history has always risen to opportunities in the present and never let a closed door shut him down. His work with the brown bag lunches gives him the chance to imbue our ladies with the same perseverance.

He encourages residents to not only focus on their end career goal, but connect with the opportunities and paths that will lead them there. He enjoys watching their optimism surface through the frustration of searching for that important job. Having endured a year unemployed before a mutual friend connected him with SoK Salon and Alden, Tim remembers the stress of the search. Working at SoK Salon, where he fills a much needed niche in a flexible and rewarding career allows Tim to lead by example for our women.

Alden and Tim’s efforts with The Home have helped our women grow spiritually and vocationally. Their combined efforts with our residents ensures we can offer the best tools for building whole lives.

A Holiday Tradition

Holiday Janet Davis

Lifetime Achievement Award Winner Janet Davis with her husband Donald

A sunny Wednesday morning in December, Carrie Colbert and Bob Hogan welcomed The Women’s Home Partnership into their home to celebrate a year of service for Houston women. The bright open archways of Colbert and Hogan’s home made a perfect environment for old and new friends of The Women’s Home to chat and mingle over coffee and savory and sweet bites provided by Partnership members. The morning gathering was more than just a time to recall and rejoice over the year’s events, it was also an occasion to honor those who support The Home and those who are building better lives for themselves.

Former esource Development Director Marcia Tapp spoke honoring Janet Davis, the 2014 Lifetime Achievement Award Winner, for over 30 years of service organizing fundraisers and volunteer groups for The Home. Janet herself spoke not of her own efforts, but praised the work The Home has done and how we have grown over the years, applauding and encouraging the efforts of volunteers and our support groups The Partnership and The Young Professionals. After decades of service Janet still lauds The Home as one of the best places to volunteer and we are so grateful and proud to have her compassionate support and dedication.

Guests also heard the story of one of our residents, Melissa, who described her long struggle over the years with alcoholism. A nurse and mother of three, Melissa struggled with the need for control against a growing tide of responsibilities. Drinking allowed her to relax and helped grease the wheels of her marriage, but it didn’t help her happiness. One morning as the sun rose over the buildings on her drive to work, she knew things must change. She quit her job, telling her supervisor she needed to work on personal issues. Several months into her commitment to recovery, her husband divorced her. Melissa was sober for several years before again finding herself determined to have control and unable to accept that some things would always be out of her hands. It was then her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor suggested she speak to two of our residents about our program. Now four months into her recovery treatment, she is learning to give up control and embrace these new changes. Melissa shares joint custody of her children, who live in the Houston area with their father and is learning to care first for herself to care for them.

Janet’s heartfelt support for The Home and our mission and Melissa’s brave story of her struggle and progress towards recovery connects the hard work of our auxiliary groups with the amazing changes their efforts make possible. The dedication of community members like Janet helps women like Melissa make changes that will last a lifetime.

Festive Gatherings Build Social Wellness

holiday collage

Top Row: Covenant Crossfit volunteers with The Women’s Home’s former Resource Development Director Marcia Tapp

Bottom Row : The Residents’ freshly decorated Christmas Tree (left), four of The Women’s Home staff including former Executive Director Paula Paust showing their elfin spirit (center), and two of the resident festive fashion models Mary Christmas and The Christmas Scarecrow (Right)

December is a month of celebration and gathering together to mark the changes of the past year. Cooperating in the spirit of the season helps residents use and enforce important social skills. This month the generosity of several groups has given our residents the chance to come together for the holidays. Mark Anthony Florist on Waugh Drive has generously donated arrangements to The Women’s Home for years, this year they delivered a ten foot Christmas tree to our residential facility. Our residents gathered together in the entryway of our dormitory to festoon the tree with twinkling lights, red ribbon, sparkling snowflakes and shiny balls of red, gold and green.

The spirit of collaboration and cooperation carried over to the residents holiday party Tuesday December 16, where generous members of our young professionals group and several of the women from Covenant Crossfit came together to organize and host a lively evening of festive fun. Each of our residents received a treat filled mug wrapped in vibrant tissue as they entered the party, which had been put together the night before by our party hosts.

Before the evening festivities took off, several members of staff performed The Women’s Home’s rendition of “Santa Baby” which included a wish list for bus passes for residents, a full pantry at Jane Cizik and updated equipment for resident treatment. Residents were also in the caroling spirit. A group of residents performed a heartfelt revamping of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” for staff of The Home, humorously acknowledging all the work staff and residents put in towards recovery.

After a delicious fajita dinner followed by desserts that were generously donated by friends of The Home, residents got into the party mood with a little friendly competition. The first activity of the night was a festive fashion contest, where four teams of eight had ten minutes to assemble the perfect outfit from wrapping paper, ornaments and other embellishments. The limited time span meant participants had to work together like a well-oiled machine in order to finish before it was time to face the judgment of crowd applause. The winning model was the Christmas Scarecrow, with a conical sparkling snowman for a hat and a dress of silver ribbon and green garland.

After the fashion design challenge, the party opened up to allow residents to enjoy a variety of activities. The Covenant Crossfit volunteers led by Abagail Dudds provided manicures, ran the bingo table and distributed prizes, helped residents craft holiday cards, and provided salsa instruction. The Young Professionals including Alex and Rachel Lopez and Courtney and Jeff Lyons, helped with set up and provided a perfect winter scene for photos with Santa.