Mental Illness Awareness Week

b2ap3_thumbnail_miaw-logoThe first full week of October, the 4th through the 10th, is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). Established in 1990 by Congress, this week is dedicated to raising awareness, educating the public, and promoting acceptance of those with mental illness. In the 25 years since its founding, there has been major progress in social attitudes, understanding, and treatment of mental illness and those who live with it, but a need remains for greater research and empathy for the way those with mental illness navigate and view the world.

“For our women who struggle with substance abuse and mental illness, behavioral health treatment is essential to their survival. So often I hear our women say that if it were not for The Women’s Home they would not be alive. We also know that nearly 50% of those in prison have a substance abuse or mental illness disorder. The majority have never been treated for their illness. Having access to treatment is more cost effective and more humane than prison or potentially suicide.” Paula Paust, Executive Director of The Women’s Home.

That need for understanding and adaptability is why The Women’s Home is dedicated to ensuring our behavioral health staff and interns utilize the best research-based practices possible to serve our residents. It is why we are dedicated not only to ensuring our staff receive the best training possible, but that our interns do as well, so when they leave The Home, they will have the skills necessary to serve the community. As a part of following best practices, we provide trauma-informed care to our residents that treats not only their struggles with addiction or mental illness but addresses the underlying history and events that exacerbate and cause these conditions. By helping our clients find and unpack the root causes and triggers of the conditions that effect their daily lives, we give them the best opportunity to develop understanding and healthy tools to minimize stressors, combat their symptoms, and recover from illnesses that have overshadowed many of their lives.

We wrote in our article on National Recovery Month about the importance of collaborations and expert trainings to our programs and that is true for our behavioral health care as well. We strengthen our clinical care through partnership our partnership with Baylor College of Medicine to provide on-site psychiatric care and medication. Our clinical staff and interns are trained in Brené Brown’s The Daring Way™ to help residents learn resilience and overcome their shame. Once construction on our WholeLife® Service Center and housing for women and families is complete, we will be able to expand our behavioral healthcare to include not only women, but their families as well through a partnership with Depelchin Children’s Center. Like all our programs, this new facility will informed by the standards and research provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) Continuum of Care (CoC) program. Coc supports nonprofits’ efforts to end homelessness through rapid rehousing, and access to mainstream support services while minimizing the trauma and effects of dislocation on those facing homelessness.

Community Figures to Speak Out at Re:Entry Summit

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The Women’s Home Re:Entry Summit is almost here! We’ve told you about the impactful speakers from out of state coming September 30th to speak about the lasting impact prison has on women and how limited resources prevents successful re-entry for many. The conference will also feature many accomplished local figures including Texas State Senator John Whitmire, Judge Denise Bradley, Judge Angela Ellis, Judge Vanessa Gilmore and Texas House of Representatives member Senfronia Thompson.

whitmire john pg Senator John Whitmire represents the 15th Senatorial District in Texas, which includes North Houston and parts of Harris County. Elected in 1982, Senator Whitmire is the senior most member of the Texas Senate and is the “Dean of the Texas Senate. He serves as the Chair of the Senate Criminal Justice Committee and works to bring about needed changes to the adult and juvenile justice systems. He also Chairs the School Discipline Consensus Project, where leaders nationwide work together developing strategies to minimize the over-use of suspension and expulsion in public schools, improve students’ academic outcomes, reduce the referral to the juvenile justice system, and promote safe and productive learning environments. Senator Whitmire will deliver a noontime keynote speech to Summit Attendees.
denise bradley again Judge Denise Bradley currently serves as the Judge of the Texas 262nd Criminal District Court and presides over one of the Harris County Success Through Addiction Recover (STAR) courts. The STAR courts work with non-violent offenders struggling with addiction, giving them in-patient drug treatment, transitional housing and job training in an effort to keep them from returning to the criminal justice system. Judge Bradley also serves on the Specialty Courts Advisory Council. The council evaluates applications for grant funding for the therapeutic courts in Texas. A graduate of South Texas College of Law, before her election to the 262nd Criminal District Court Judge Bradley worked in the Trial Bureau and served as the Chief of the 177th and 185th District Courts. She also worked as the gang prosecutor and was assigned to the Major Offenders Division where she worked closely with the cold case squads of various law enforcement agencies.
b2ap3_thumbnail_Angela-Ellis-Cropped.jpg Judge Angela Ellis is an associate judge of the 315th District Court. She is juvenile court judge who hears child welfare, juvenile justice cases, and requests for special immigrant juvenile status for undocumented children. She is also involved in the Growing Independence Restoring Lives (GIRLs) Court, a human trafficking treatment court for minors who have been victims of domestic minor sex trafficking. Before becoming an associate judge in 2009, Judge Ellis served as a lawyer after earning her law degree at South Texas College of Law.
Judge Photo 2 Judge Vanessa Gilmore was the youngest sitting federal judge in the nation when she was first sworn in in 1994. The University of Houston Law Center graduate specialized in civil litigation during her 13 tenure with Vickery Killbride, Gillmore and Vickery Law firm. Judge Gillmore has also been widely active in the Houston community, serving on several boards including a term as president of the YWCA of Houston. She was the first African America person to serve on the Texas Department of Commerce Policy Board, which is dedicated to developing job training, increasing business and promoting tourism in Texas. Judge Gilmore is the co- author of “A Boy Named Rocky”, a book for the children of incarcerated parents and is a frequent speaker on issues related to these children and their families. She has worked on initiatives to help these families with access to resources for their children, including the development of a legal clinic at Texas Southern University.
SENFRONIA A closing speech will be given by Texas House of Representatives member Senfronia Thompson, who has represented district 141, comprised of northeast Houston and the Humble, area since 1973. A graduate of Texas Southern University, the Thurgood Marshall School of Law and University of Houston, Thompson served as the Dean of Women Legislators, and chairs the Women’s Health Caucus. She co-chairs the Joint Interim Committee to Study Human Trafficking. In her career Rep. Thompson has been an advocate for child support enforcement, legislation to protect victims of domestic violence, and legislation combatting human trafficking.

Don’t miss your opportunity to hear these local figures speak on the impact of incarceration on the lives of women. Click here to learn more about the Re:Entry Summit and to purchase your ticket.

Bringing Faith Communities Together

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC05223Attendees on a tour of Jane Cizik Garden Place with Development Director, Marcia Tapp

On Thursday September 17, 2015, representatives from 17 different faith organizations across Houston gathered at Jane Cizik Garden Place to learn about The Women’s Home mission and need for volunteer involvement. The open house attendees included board members Bob Dyer and Lynda Hancock, as well as representatives from Palmer Memorial Episcopal Church, Trinity Episcopal Church, St. Martin’s Episcopal, Memorial Drive United Methodist, First Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Windsor Village, Terrace United Methodist Church, Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church, Christ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, Texas Impact, Institute for Spirituality and Health, Mercy Street, Portal Houston, Emerson Unitarian Universalist Church, First Unitarian Universalist Church, Compassionate Houston, and St. Paul’s United Methodist Church.

Churches and faith communities have long been essential to The Women’s Home’s success. The open house was held both to honor congregations’ role in The Women’s Home’s mission, as well as to discuss ways churches and other faith communities could get even more involved. The Women’s Home’s Executive Director, Paula Paust, introduced guests to The Home’s WholeLife® model of care and how the six aspects of wellness inform all of the programs clients receive. Paula went on to introduce attendees to The Women’s Home’s expansion in Spring Branch, where a second 84 unit supportive housing facility for women and families as well as a WholeLife Service Center is being built. Board member Bob Dyer followed Paula and recounted his own personal journey to find a fulfilling opportunity to give back to the community in his retirement. He sought an organization that was cost effective in its operations, showed focus in its mission and impact, and had a need for the skills he possessed. In the end he was caught by surprise when The Women’s Home approached him and it turned out to be the perfect fit.

Chris Hammond, Manager of Volunteer Services, concluded the brief presentation by elaborating on the volunteer needs of The Home, highlighting its spirituality programs, The Courage to Search and The Search Continues, and the need for spiritual companions to provide support and comradery for residents interested in developing their spirituality. Development Director Marcia Tapp then lead a tour of the facilities, highlighting how features like two on-site case managers, a secure campus, on-site fitness facilities, a computer lab, and a meditation labyrinth all incorporate the WholeLife program into life at Jane Cizik.

Thank you to everyone who attended our congregational open house, we’re excited to have these passionate organizations interested in The Women’s Home and look forward to developing new relationships in the future.

If your congregation or faith group was unable to attend the open house, but wants to learn more about getting involved with The Home, please contact us at

Appreciating the Importance of Recovery

b2ap3_thumbnail_RM-2015-Logos-343x94September is National Recovery Month, a time to raise awareness of the positive impact support services and treatment can have on those suffering from addiction or mental health disorders. National Recovery Month began in 1989 as Treatment Works! Month, a way to honor the efforts of treatment professionals who support and guide those working through addiction on their journey to recovery. Today National Recovery Month has evolved to include mental illness and encourage us to raise awareness and educate ourselves on the need for strong programs and resources for those in need in our communities.

Here at The Women’s Home, Recovery Month reminds us of the importance of the work we do to ensure we’re always providing programs informed by best practices and the latest research on recovery and wellness. The foundation of all our services, the WholeLife® Program, was developed using the latest research on successful long term recovery and encompasses all aspects of a person’s wellbeing. This complete support of mind, body and spirit would not be possible without the support and collaborations with our friends and partners in the community. Ensuring that our residents are given the best tools to lead a whole life means providing shame resilience training through our Brené Brown certified clinical staff who lead clients through Brown’s The Daring Way™. It means offering residents seeking spiritual growth the support of dedicated trained volunteers in our The Courage to Search and The Search Continues. It means creating partnerships with organizations like The Women’s Fund and Dress for Success for financial and professional trainings.


Providing the best care possible also means studying the needs here in Houston, a path which led to the development of our current construction projects The WholeLife Service Center and a second housing complex for women and families. These new facilities will expand our services to not only providing support and treatment for those in recovery, but also providing resources that can prevent the crisis situations that leave people vulnerable to mental illness and addiction.

The Women’s Home Re:Entry Summit Seeks to Empower and Educate

Re-Entry Summit LogoTexas has the largest prison populations in the United States. In 2014, 12,214 of those incarcerated were women, and of those women, 8,550 served a previous sentence. Ex-offenders face a multitude of legal and social barriers that inhibit them from successfully re-entering society. A study by the Legal Action Center found that Texas has over 32 different laws restricting released prisoners, ranging from employment policies to limitations on public assistance. These barriers increase the likelihood of relapse and recidivism among individuals with criminal records. One in five women released in Harris County will receive insufficient support in overcoming these barriers.

While post-release reintegration is difficult for anyone, women face unique challenges that are often overlooked and lead to unmet needs. Female offenders are more prone to addiction, mental illness, low self-esteem, lack of job skills or experience and homelessness than their male counterparts. Women out of prison also face additional challenges in finding employment: many second-chance jobs are primarily manual labor and involve time commitments that conflict with childcare responsibilities.

The Women’s Home, with funding from the Texas Bar Foundation, will host a summit September 30 addressing the challenges women transitioning from prison to society face.

The summit will take place at United Way Houston and feature panel discussions and breakout sessions with national and local experts addressing the challenges women face before, during and after their experience with the prison system. Subjects covered will include behavioral health, law and policy making, as well as housing and employment barriers.

Keynote speakers include Dr. Mary D. Looman and Dr. John D. Carl, the authors of A Country Called Prison and Dr. Andrea M. Leverentz, author of The Ex-Prisoner’s Dilemma. Drs. Looman and Carl propose that prison is a culture that begins with disadvantaged, abusive and neglected childhoods setting up an entire segment of the population to become duel citizens who struggle between U.S. societal norms and a country called prison. A Country Called Prison offers pragmatic and economical suggestions to reform the prison system and address the incarceration epidemic in America.

Dr. Leverentz offers an in-depth, firsthand look at the former prisoner’s experience reentering American society in The Ex-Prisoner’s Dilemma. Through a series of interviews with forty-nine women, Dr. Andrea Leverentz reveals how the formerly incarcerated attempt to navigate and reconstruct their roles as mothers, daughters, sisters, romantic partners, friends, students and workers. The book depicts the precariousness of reentry for women in light of public policy, a primary focus on male prisoners, and the way society views the formerly incarcerated.

The Houston area has not seen an event of this nature since 2008, making this a great opportunity to bring our community together and advocate on behalf of female ex-offenders.  By educating our community, we hope to create better opportunities for women as they re-enter society, helping to keep them from experiencing homelessness or further incarceration.

Click here to register online for the summit

For more information about the summit, contact Marcia Tapp at 713.328.1975 or at

Scouts at Jane Cizik Garden Place


On Saturday July 25, 2015, our supportive housing facility Jane Cizik Garden Place’s (JCGP) food pantries benefitted from of months of hard work by dedicated Boy Scout, Michael Sobin. In order to earn his Eagle Scout status, Michael needed to develop and execute a service project that exemplified the skills he has honed in his years as a scout. While researching potential ideas, Michael was connected to The Women’s Home’s former Community Involvement ManagerChau Nguyenby Sobin family friend and The Home’s board member, Julie Mahler. Through Chau, Michael learned that JCGP emergency food pantry, which provides residents in need with nonperishable food items, was urgently in need of restocking and found the basis for his Eagle Scout project.

Michael’s project provided 10 new wire shelving units for the first floor pantry, and five new shelving units each for the second and third floor pantries. He stocked each of these pantries with food items he began collecting through a school food drive in April. Michael’s outspokenness about his project and the impact it would have on the lives of our residents at JCGP, helped him raise roughly $1,300 from family members as well as members of his family’s temple, Congregation Jewish Community North in Spring Texas. Michael also gained an additional $50 in products when purchasing items at a local Dollar Tree after explaining his work to the branch manager.

With the help of fellow scouts he recruited for the cause, Michael brought his project to fruition on Saturday as the group came in to set up the shelving units and loaded them to the brim with the collected food items. His hard work will have months of positive impact on the residents at Jane Cizik Garden place, where having our pantry well stocked can make the difference between struggling between bills and groceries for that month. Michael “found the most rewarding part of this project was looking at the finished pantries. It was months of planning coming together. It was nice to see that before we even left that day someone had come for items to help them out.”

Faith Open House at Jane Cizik Garden Place

Open House 15

On Wednesday September 17, from 3 to 5 pm The Women’s Home is hosting an open house for congregations and faith communities at our supportive housing community, Jane Cizik Garden Place. The open house will educate congregations and faith communities about the programs and services The Home provides women in the Houston area, as well as introducing our new projects that will enable us to serve women and their families in the Spring Branch community.  The support of faith communities in the Houston area has been an integral part of The Women Home’s success since our founding in 1957, and we want to continue growing our relationships with Houston’s places of worship. Our Volunteer Service Manager Chris Hammond will give a presentation on the volunteer needs of The Home and opportunities for collaborative projects to fill these areas.

If your congregation or faith community is interested in learning more about The Women’s Home and ways to help us empower women to change their lives, please contact us at


Leaning In and Taking Names September 2015

lean in

The Women’s Home Young Professionals will host Leaning In & Taking Names on Thursday September 24, 2015, a panel discussion on career path insights with renowned community leaders. The panel will run from 6 to 8pm at United Way of Greater Houston and feature Reliant’s Vice President of Customer Care Operations, Bill Clayton; United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit, Honorable Judge Jennifer Walker Elrod; CEO of Pink Petro, Katie Mehnert; and Methodist Hospital Breast Cancer Center Medical Director, Luz A. Venta, M.D.

These professionals are leaders in their fields, with long and varied careers. They will speak on their experiences and offer attendees the opportunity to ask questions and glean important insights on how to develop and negotiate their own professional opportunities.

William Clayton oversees Reliant’s call center and mid-office operations and is responsible for leading the company’s customer care and service operations for their mass market customers. With a background in political science and nearly two decades of experience in utility and retail electric industries, William has held roles in residential load management, field operation, retail marketing, program development and retail operations.

Jennifer Walker Elrod, was appointed and twice elected Judge of the 190th District Court of Harris County, Texas, before taking her current position. A Baylor and Harvard Graduate, Judge Elrod was in private practice before serving as a judge. She has also taught as an adjunct professor for University of Houston Law Center and served as the M.D. Anderson Visiting Public Service Professor at the Texas Tech University School of Law. She is a member of the Baylor University Board of Regents, an elected member of the American Law Institute, a member of the board of the Houston Urban Debate League, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Federal Judges Association.

Katie Walthall Mehnert is the Founder and Chief executive Officer of Pink Petro™, a social media channel designed to connect and support the professional development of women working throughout the energy industry and help close the field’s gender gap. Katie is also the president of Cognovi Communications, a consulting business that helps companies in the energy industry transform culture, improve safety and identify operational risk. Her consultation work is informed by her previous leadership roles with companies like BP and Shell.

Dr. Venta received her first faculty appointment in 1988 as a Clinical Assistant Professor of Radiology at the Loyola University Stritch School of Medicine in Maywood, Illinois. She became an Associate Professor there in 1994. She served as the Medical Director of Section Breast Imaging at the Lynn Sage Comprehensive Breast Center of Northwestern Memorial Hospital while at Layola. In 2000, Dr. Venta was recruited to Houston Methodist Hospital to lead the breast imaging group and joined the faculty of the Baylor College of Medicine as a Professor of Radiology. In 2005, she received her faculty appointment at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University.

Tickets are on sale for $10 in advance and $15 at the door. Space is limited so purchase yours before they run out by clicking here.  Don’t miss this opportunity to ask these accomplished professionals for insights into their success and advice on building experience.

reNew & reDo 2015

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On Wednesday August 19, 2015 The Women’s Home’s 6th annual reNew and reDo fashion show took the Wortham in style despite the stormy weather. Over the course of the evening, the 500 guests shopped all night, fueled by sweet and savory bites from Lady Lavender Confections and Hungry’s Café and Bistro. Among the crowd were Deborah Duncan, Marie and Nancy Dang, Susanne Glasscock, Yasmine Haddad, Janice Hall, Harriet Hart, Ajay Khurana, Mary Axelrad, and Julie Mahler.

Guests watched as volunteer models including Nancy Almodovar, Nick Anderson, Katy Boatman, Cindy Castañeda, Will Chang, Donae Chromosta, Ianne Fastoff, Tracy Faulkner, Varda Dror Fields, Rita Garcia, Nina Gutierrez-Garcia, Sanaz Harirchian, Quang Henderson, Staci Henderson, Euan Holden, Kenya Hunt, Sippi Khurana, Peta-Gay Ledbetter, Laith Mahmood, Naureen Malik, Kristen McDaniel, Nick Merchant, Shawntell McWilliams, Michael Pearce, Bharat Pothuri, and Rachel Suliburt walked the runway in ensembles styled once again by Lenny Matuszewski and Tamara Bonar from the designer donations to The Cottage Shop.  All menswear was custom made by LUCHO. LUCHO donated a portion of the custom suits’ sales to The Women’s Home and after the show, the runway styles were wheeled onto the floor to join the rest of the designer clothing, shoes and accessories in the pop up Cottage Shop Boutique where the shopping excitement was in full swing as guests purchased top shelf brands like Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Prada, Dior and many others for bargain prices.

The event featured a silent auction stocked with clothing, accessory, travel and event packages donated from a number of local and national businesses as well as five dresses donated from the closets of this year’s Fashion Icons Carrie Colbert, Joanne King Herring, Tatiana Masse, Theresa Roemer and Elaine Turner. The icons were acknowledged with applause and their own walk on the runway during the show’s opening. The event raised $130,000 for The Women’s Home.

Couldn’t come to the big event? Head over to The Cottage Shop for a chance to shop all the remaining merchandise from reNew!

A Woman of Substance 2015

Barbara & Joanne Small

From Left to Right: Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanne King Herring

On Wednesday April 8, 2015, literary enthusiasts gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel Downtown for afternoon tea with Barbara Taylor Bradford and Joanne King Herring. Among the audience was former first lady and longtime friend of Barbara Taylor Bradford, Barbara Bush. The Women’s Home Board President Brenda White and Joanne King Herring, who is an accomplished diplomat and the granddaughter of The Women’s Home founder, Mrs. Laura Sampson, opened the tea with a few words about The Home’s mission for an audience of familiar and new faces. Ernie Manouse, host of PBS’s InnerVIEWS served as the MC, moving throughout the room taking questions from the audience. Joanne and Barbara entertained guests with anecdotes of their early careers, including Barbara’s recounting of when she first met Mrs. Bush and how a spill down the stairs landed her at the feet of the former first lady. Joanne recounting her time as a news anchor, a position she achieved while promoting The Home to news networks, said it felt like always running quarterback to be heard in a male dominated field.

Among the guests were both long time readers of Bradford’s work as well as new followers, including mothers who had passed the books along to their daughters. Bradford when asked on her writing process, explained she keeps track of her characters using notecards for reference, pinning her main cast to a corkboard in her work space and keeping the rest at hand in a Manolo shoebox. On being asked about how she dealt with the increasingly tricky issue of protecting her intellectual property in the age of the internet, Bradford recounted an extended legal battle she and her husband, Robert Bradford undertook upon learning one of Robert’s film adaptations of her novels was being reproduced without their knowledge in India.

Questions drew to a close on the subject of childhood literacy, when discussion turned to Bradford’s The Write Stuff short story competition for young girls in the UK and the Barbara Bush Foundation for Family Literacy which provides literacy programs for adults and children across the U.S. Herring brought the tea to a neat finish thanking Bradford and inviting guests to purchase Bradford’s latest novel, The Cavendon Women at the back where Bradford would sign.