Suzannes Story

 

When I arrived at The Women’s Home, I was asked why I wanted to be there. My answer was that I didn’t want to die. Little did I know that not only was I going to live, but I was going to live a life of joy and abundance.

 

By this point, I had been through many life traumas. I had experienced great loss and sexual abuse as a child…and I did not have the skills to cope. The latest and worst of these traumas happened during my first rehabilitation program, right before I was scheduled to go home. My family came to tell me that my daughter had been killed in a car accident by a driver who was high on PCP. Three years later, I showed up at The Women’s Home.

 

From the beginning, it was obvious that The Women’s Home cared about my mental, physical, and emotional well-being. Their program included all the things I needed, from intensive therapy to computer and career courses to yoga. I was able to get counseling to help me cope with the traumas in my life. I felt safe to share all the secrets that I had never shared with anyone and received counseling for each.

 

I found new important life skills, such as self-advocacy, confidence, and problem- solving through individual and group counseling sessions. At The Women’s Home, I learned how to set goals and live a life of purpose. First, with the help of my case worker, and then, I was able to accomplish this on my own. I was able to do things like set up well-women’s visits and mammograms, get my social security card, and obtain a driver license’s and gold card. These were the start of my goals, and it made me feel good about myself to accomplish these tasks and then set new goals for myself.

 

When I think about The Women’s Home or am asked about it, I describe it as a place of healing. As a 53-year-old woman I had never felt any self-confidence. Between the therapy and support they provided, I now wake up each morning with joy and confidence. This is something I never thought would happen. With the help of The Women’s Home, I became job-ready and was able to fulfill my passion of working with Special Education students again.

 

One of the goals I had set for myself at The Women’s Home was to transition to its independent apartment housing at Jane Cizik Garden Place, which is where I am living now.  I wake up every day thankful and truly happy, and when I leave work at the end of each day, I find a serene, beautiful place to call home.

 

– Suzanne

 

WAVE Day 2018

For thirteen years, The Women’s Home has been a fortunate recipient of ExxonMobil’s WAVE (Women’s Annual Volunteer Event) Day community event. This year on April 27, 120 volunteers spent the day with us, providing our clients with valuable knowledge through workshops such as Interview Skills, Financial Literacy, Networking, Wellness, and Dress for Success. ExxonMobil brought inspiring speakers along with a delicious lunch for 40 of our clients as well as 16 ladies from the Santa Maria Hostel.  For their on-site service project, WAVE Day workers redecorated Barbara’s House, one of the cottages at our Montrose campus: they painted walls and cabinets and even donated a TV! Volunteers also donated clothes and helped organize and sort in The Cottage Shop.  Additionally, for every hour each volunteer served, ExxonMobil donates funding to The Women’s Home.

 

Thank you, WAVE Day volunteers and ExxonMobil!

Grand Opening Celebration of our Mabee WholeLife Service Center

 

 

On Thursday, May 3 we hosted a joyful Grand Opening Celebration and Dedication of our new Mabee WholeLife® Service Center located in Spring Branch.  Mayor Sylvester Turner presided over the ribbon cutting and emphasized the importance of this new Service Center to the Houston community.

 

Thanks to our many collaborative partners, The Mabee WholeLife Service Center has begun offering a range of essential services to the community including behavioral healthcare for adults and children, summer enrichment programming taught by Boys & Girls Club of Houston, healthcare services through the Spring Branch Community Health Center (a Federally Qualified Health Clinic), and a greenspace that encompasses an outdoor classroom certified by the Nature Explore Program. We are also continuing to form partnerships with key community partners to bring additional services to the Spring Branch community. For instance, we are working with the Harris County Public Library to bring in a mobile library and educational literacy programs. 

 

In addition to long-term programs, we are also able to implement programs to meet immediate needs of the community. For instance, following Hurricane Harvey, The Women’s Home received disaster relief funding from the United Way of Greater Houston and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church to address the basic needs of families whose children attend Treasure Forest Elementary School (in Spring Branch). This generous support has enabled us to offer a bi-weekly, pop-up pantry at our Service Center. Since the beginning of February, there have been six pop-up pantries held for families, and as of May 1, we have provided basic needs support to 43 area families (246 adults and 116 children).

 

From funding by private donors and supportive foundations to federal funds provided by the City of Houston’s Housing and Community Development Department (HCDD), The Mabee WholeLife Service Center is truly a community effort. “The Women’s Home embodies the spirit of complete communities and is a testament to the resiliency of Houstonians,” says Tom McCasland, the Director of HCDD. “They never hesitate to roll up their sleeves and get to work to strengthen the community through time, effort and supportive service.”

 

Over the next eighteen months, as all of our programs are put into place, we anticipate being able to service 6,000 people annually.  We are deeply grateful to all of the donors who made our Mabee WholeLife Service Center possible.

Pop-Up Pantry Project

 

 

Hurricane Harvey impacted us all, in one way or another. The Women’s Home received disaster relief funding from the United Way of Greater Houston and St. Martin’s Episcopal Church to address the basic needs of families whose students attend Treasure Forest Elementary School in Spring Branch. This generous support has enabled us to offer a biweekly, pop-up, basic needs pantry at our new Mabee WholeLife® Service Center.

 

Since the beginning of February, there have been six pantry dates at our Service Center for families. To date, we have provided basic needs support to 43 area families to date (246 adults and 116 children).

 

At the beginning of March, The Women’s Home expanded the pantry’s offerings to include clothing from our pop-up Cottage shop at the Center.  Eligible participants receive a $50 voucher to purchase clothing. We are working in conjunction with staff at Treasure Forest Elementary School to share information regarding the pantry and issue vouchers to eligible families.

 

Through our bi-weekly pantries, families have also had access to free legal aid, assistance signing up for state and federal assistance (CHIP, SNAP, WIC, etc.) and information about low-cost health care.

 

Thanks to the generosity of our funders, we were able to purchase a commercial refrigerator for our Pantry Project. Now we can offer free prepared meals and fresh produce to the families accessing the pantry through a partnership with Second Servings of Houston, a local non-profit that picks up excess prepared food from regulated food businesses, such as hotels, arenas, and cafeterias, and delivers it safely to non-profit meal providers that serve the hungry. A new refrigerator may not be glamorous or seem like much, but it, along with our Second Servings partnership, has provided us with the capacity to provide basic needs assistance to low-income families after the life of our Pantry Project as well.

 

Many families have expressed sincere gratitude for the food and other assistance they’ve received. Some have shared their stories from Harvey and told us how—all these months later—they are still suffering financial setbacks from the disaster. Over half of the families we have served are caring for three or more children, so every bit of help we can offer makes a difference.

Sponsor a Model Contest

We encourage you to give generously in support of our volunteer models. Make a selection (or two) and donate to the cause.

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Breaking Down Barriers

The Women’s Home conducts an on-going quality control process to insure that we are serving the vulnerable population of women in need, in our community.  After much discussion and thoughtful design, we are pleased to announce that we have lowered the barriers of admission to our Treatment program at our campus in Montrose.  Residents can now come to us for addiction and mental health treatment in a new 89 day intensive program.

We realize that beds for substance abuse care are virtually non-existent because facilities such as Riverside and VOA have closed down their treatment beds.  Funding became more scarce for these agencies and so treatment became more elusive for those women committed to shedding the horrible burdens of addiction. With an expectation of at least 60 days sobriety to enter our supportive treatment phase; we were turning away women more frequently.  We knew it was time to step up and address the crisis facing so many of our sisters in Houston.

With funding from HUD (Housing and Urban Development) and a new Mental Health initiative from the Methodist Foundation, we have designated 8 beds in our main dormitory for intensive substance abuse treatment.  Residents are enrolled in this tight knit group once they have successfully completed a medical detox, stretching a few days.  They, and their cohorts are part of a program that includes individual and group counseling, constant care and vigilant oversight by round the clock psych techs and special physical and spiritual wellness offerings.  It is our hope that our specially designed intensive program will result in the same high levels of success that we enjoy in our supportive program.

One of the features of the large grant awarded by the Methodist Foundation, is the ability to collaborate for medical, wellness and psychiatric care with Legacy Clinic.  We also work closely with Santa Maria Hostel for detox services.  We are grateful to Houston Methodist for making this new program possible.  They have responded to the communities’ dire need for expanded behavioral health services and their leadership is invaluable.

This intensive program was begun in February and we will stay actively committed to reporting on the results of this important addition to our services.

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Services Expand at Jane Cizik Garden Place

New Therapeutic Counseling Services

Thanks to an exciting partnership with Memorial Assistance Ministries (MAM), Jane Cizik Garden Place now has therapeutic services on-site for all interested residents. Individual therapy sessions will be provided by Carolina Luna, LCSW.  This expansion of services has been made possible by generous funding from Houston Methodist. 

Carolina is a Mental Health Counselor for Memorial Assistance Ministries with over 7 years of experience in the mental health and substance abuse field. Carolina has a Master’s degree in Social Work with a specialization in Children and Families from Fordham University in New York City.  She has helped many individuals in various settings including hospitals, outpatient clinics, and non-for-profit agencies.


Carolina Luna Carolina has experience providing individual and group psychotherapy utilizing evidence-based approaches that focus on helping clients and residents make life changes towards personal goals. She pioneered a community youth program at her local church and coordinated weekly groups togive young people a place to belong. Those who know her would describe her as being compassionate and loving as well as being dedicated in all she manages.  She is excited to work with the tenants at Jane Cizik Garden Place and branch out to counseling the women of JCGP.  She will be providing services in the evenings after work hours to accommodate our tenants work schedules.

Carolina enjoys spending quality time with her husband and two young daughters, watching movies and taking walks in the park. She is fluent in Spanish and was born and raised in Queens, New York.


Jane Cizik Garden Place Presents Community Yoga

Services ExpandingWe are grateful for Jennifer Clements, certified Yoga instructor that has offered to volunteer at Jane Cizik Garden Place.  She was introduced to The Home, by mom-in-law Lisa Simon and she brings with her a donation from MFT Interests to purchase yoga mats and blocks for our tenants to use. Residents will have the opportunity to stretch their body, mind while learning powerful yoga poses and techniques.  This practice will undoubtedly help them  gain insights into the physical and mental health benefits of yoga and deep stretching. Sessions will be held every Monday and will be made  appropriate for all levels.

Case managers, Nena Chima and Ashley Stratton will participate with the community group, leading by doing.  Jennifer plans to take advantage of our stunning garden to hold the practice outdoors, weather permitting.  Of course, Community Yoga is also a great way to enhance fellowship and engagement at JCGP.

Jennifer has already shared some deep breathing techniques and stretches to the staff as she was oriented to her new volunteer role.  We are thrilled to have her join our team.

Bauer Women Society: Empowering Young Women Everywhere

The Bauer Women Society at the University of Houston is an undergraduate business organization that focuses on skill building workshops, career opportunities, leadership and philanthropic work to promote the personal and professional development of aspiring businesswomen. The Bauer Women Society had the opportunity to engage in an outreach event at The Women’s Home. The members had a great time volunteering and sorting through the donations at The Cottage Shop. This was a great way for the Bauer Women Society to connect with the wonderful people at the Women’s Home and find a new way to give back to the community. The Bauer Women Society strongly believes that giving back is very important because it demonstrates appreciation to the community, and Bauer Women love and appreciates their community.

Learn more here: www.uhbauerwomensociety.com

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