Donate your Holiday Styles to Shop. Taste. Empower.

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Have you been wearing that same little something every holiday party for the last three years? If you’re looking for a change in your holiday style, and a way to give your old clothes new life, donate your gently worn clothing, shoes, and home goods to The Cottage Shop. We are looking for men’s and women’s evening wear, shoes, and handbags to help us stock up for Shop. Taste. Empower. in November! Not looking to retire your special holiday outfit, but gotten the last mile out of that festive light-up sweater? Bring it down to The Cottage Shop to liven up someone else’s holiday festivities. Or if you have that unusual gift from last year’s white elephant exchange that you’ve never found a place for? Re-gift it to us and make someone else’s holiday gift hunt!

Our very first Shop. Taste. Empower. was Sunday, May 3, 2015 at The Cottage Shop and 200 shoppers came to sample delicious eats from Hungry’s, BB’s Roadhouse, and Phoenicia’s, bid on amazing silent auction items and catch great deals on all merchandise at the shop.

The event was such a great hit, we’re doing it again on Sunday, November 15 just in time for holiday shopping, and we need your help to make sure it will be even bigger and better than before! Tres Chic Boutique, owned by mother and daughter team Susan and Elizabeth Hancock, has generously donated over 100 pieces of stunning high fashion clothing which we’ll have on sale that Sunday and we’re looking for other donors to join them in stocking our shelves.

This holiday edition of Shop. Taste. Empower we’ll have sweet bites and warm drinks from Whole Foods, Jody Cakes, Paulie’s, and Greenway Coffee Company.  DJ Gracie Chavez will be back again to mix tunes to help shoppers get in the spirit of the season as fashion stylist Dawn Bell and Make-Up Artists and hair stylist Justin Hernandez, and Lydia Lutz offer style and beauty tips to interested attendees. Our Media Sponsor, Houstonia will have special promotional goodies and copies of Houstonia Magazine the day of the event. In addition to holiday styles for men and women in our vintage and evening sections, and our ugly holiday sweaters, we’ll have gift sections to help you find stocking stuffers, white elephant presents, and gifts big and small for all the people in your life.
If you’ve got potential merchandise for Shop. Taste. Empower. collecting dust in your closet or home, shake it off and donate it to The Cottage Shop by Friday November 6, 2015 and help us make this event fabulous and festive!

Then on the day of the event, bring your gently used winter wear for women including coats, hats, gloves, scarves and sweaters as a donation and get a free goody bag full of swag as our gift to you for helping our residents stay warm for winter!

Click here to reserve your ticket for Shop. Taste. Empower.

Join Our Leadership Circle

b2ap3_thumbnail_Leadership-Circle-LogoWhat we’d like to say first and foremost is thank you. Thank you for your continued support of The Women’s Home. Thank you for understanding how important it is to provide resources and a real second chance to women in crisis. Because of you and people like you, many local women are longer on the streets. They are no longer afraid for their life. They are sober and employed and looking at their first real chance at a bright future. Because of you, they are now a productive member of this city.

This year, we ask that you consider becoming a part of our Leadership Circle. This special group of donors provides an annual contribution to The Home, ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 and allows our organization to continue providing the vital programs necessary to help rebuild the lives of the Houston area women in our care. This group of major donors assure The Women’s Home of a well-balanced and robust charitable base that will strengthen our ability to serve more women in need. There are few people on this earth who are not touched, in some way, by addiction, mental illness, or abuse. Present or past, immediate family or a friend, a coworker, or spouse. You know someone. Without intervention and support these traumas can lead to homelessness. These issues are multi-layered and they require individualized, multi-layered solutions.

That’s where The Women’s Home comes in. In the 60 years since its founding, The Home has established itself in Houston as a leader in solutions to the problem of homelessness. We have utilized innovative, evolving and proven intervention to provide the lost women of our city a fighting chance. Our WholeLife® program has received accolades nationally for its efficacy.

Because of your unwavering support, there are now two doors for the journey of recovery. Jane Cizik Garden Place apartment community provides housing that is safe and affordable for graduates of our program and others who desire to live in a sober, supportive environment. In addition, our treatment and transitional residential facility in Montrose continues to be a place of acceptance for those weary women who commit to begin anew.

Talk to Julie Comiskey, Chief Development Officer to make your year end, tax deductible pledge. It is vital to our work, vital to hope in the lives of so many women who need to envision and be able to achieve transformation.

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 volunteer@thewomenshome.org.

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 mtapp@thewomenshome.org.

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 volunteer@thewomenshome.org.

 

Help us Help Houston Women and Families

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As friends and supporters of The Women’s Home, you already know of our successes in changing the lives of Houston women. Many of you have heard about our newest project, an 84 unit apartment complex for families as well as a WholeLife® Service Center in Spring Branch down the street from our first housing complex, Jane Cizik Garden Place, this exciting development will enable us to transform the lives of hundreds of families in the Spring Branch community. We’ve raised over $21 million for these two projects’ capital campaign, but we still have $5 million to raise to meet our goal.

This will be a dynamic year of growth for The Women’s Home as we break ground on these two new projects and expand our operations. We need your support now more than ever. In addition to preparing for the operational needs of our new facilities, we will be adding a couple of key positions to ensure the continued quality of our programs. The new positions include a dedicated volunteer manager and a part time professional committed to continuous quality improvement of all programs. In addition, our administrative staff is hard at work developing programs, procedures and strategic focus for the future. Throughout planning for these new developments, we continue to focus on smooth operations for both our treatment and transitional program and our permanent supportive housing community.
Most importantly, we are changing the future for the women we serve!
We could not achieve this exciting new growth or the lifelong changes it enables for our clients without your help. Every gift supports our work providing our residents with the assistance and training they need to live independent fulfilling lives. With each gift, you make a meaningful contribution essential to rebuilding the lives of desperate Houston women.
Every donation, big and small, helps change the lives of the women we serve, please click the donate button at the top right of our website to make your contribution today.

Girls on the Run Support our Residents

Girls on the Run Group

Some of the Women’s Home’s pint sized friends recently paid a warm and friendly visit to our residents at Jane Cizik Garden Place, our spring branch supportive housing community.

Dozens of girls ranging from the third to fifth grades from the nearby Treasure Forest Elementary School, delivered hygiene care packages after school one sunny afternoon day. It was a happy visit, and one that came after weeks of hard work and fundraising. The students are part of the Girls on the Run program, an after school program for girls ages 8 to 13. Their goal is to complete a 5k at the end of their school year. But part of the fun for these girls involves giving back. So the girls chose Jane Cizik Garden Place as their community outreach project.

Their effort began in early Spring, when the girls sold lemonade at the school. Their hard work paid off, earning more than 200 dollars. Then came deciding how to use the funds. After meeting with our staff, the group collectively decided to make dental hygiene kits, including toothbrushes, floss and toothpastes for the residents of all 84 of our units.

The girls were received by hugs and gratitude, with a handful of our residents in attendance for these donations. Our staff later distributed the rest of the kits to Jane Cizik residents. The girls shared the valuable lessons they learned like teamwork, charity and how they too can shape the communities around them.

We thank you Girls on the Run, and we look forward to many more neighborly visits ahead!