Join us in January for MLK Day of Service

MLK Day of Service Save the Date2Save the date for Martin Luther King Day, January 18, 2016 to join The Women’s Home for a day of service. We need volunteers of all levels to help sort incoming donations at The Cottage Shop and particularly volunteers experienced with painting to paint the rooms of our life learning center, our Montrose transitional homes and the doors at our supportive housing facility, Jane Cizik Garden Place. If you or a group you are a part of are interested in learning more and getting involved, contact us at volunteer@thewomenshome.org to be added to the volunteer list.

Don’t Forget Year End Giving

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November is a time to reflect upon all we are grateful for in our lives, big and small. This year begins a period of new growth for The Women’s Home. These expansions of our programs include assistance not only for Houston area women in need, but their families as well, and would not be possible without the immense support from our friends in the community. Likewise, the work we do every day on our Montrose campus, empowering women in need to change their lives, is made possible by the philanthropic and volunteer support of all of our generous contributors.

As the year draws to a close, we hope you will continue to support The Women’s Home and our mission to help Houston area women in crisis leave behind homelessness, addiction, and mental illness and embrace the potential within themselves to achieve healthy and whole lives.

2015 Gala “Landmarks & Legacies” Nov. 13th

The Women’s Home is proud to announce our 2015 Annual Gala “Landmarks & Legacies”

Our Gala will take place on November 13, 2015 at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, and we are honored to have as our co-chairs Tracy and Harry Faulkner and Fran Fawcett Peterson.

This year’s Gala will recognize six honorees for six decades:

Joanne King Herring

Jane Cizik

Adele and Ber Pieper

Bette Stead

Kay and René Joyce

Mandy Kao 

To purchase tables and individual tickets, please contact Marcia Tapp at 713-328-1975.

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JoAnne King Herring

In 1957, a young woman with five small children sought assistance at Houston’s major rescue mission. However at the time, there were no facilities for women. In fact, for women there were no services at all. The woman was instead referred to Mrs. Laura Sampson, JoAnne’s aunt and mentor. Mrs. Sampson took the family into her own home. She then asked Joanne, to help her develop a safe place for Houston area women. JoAnne used her charm and incredible communications skills to raise money and awareness for this new cause. She held the organization’s first fundraiser, a silver tea, in her River Oaks home and moved a local television executive to give her air time to share its needs. As a result, financial support poured in from the community to launch The Women’s Home and a television show was created for JoAnne. Over the last 58 years, JoAnne has used her dazzling spirit to continue to champion the mission of The Women’s Home.

Jane Cizik

Jane Cizik led the stabilization and growth of the The Women’s Home in its infancy. Her prudent and wise leadership attracted important new donors and staff professionalizing the services offered as well as building a stable financial core. Jane so believed in the mission and work, she tirelessly steered the Board of Directors throughout the issues and challenges every small agency faces. Her belief in the mission continued as The Home entered a new phase of service, our permanent supportive housing community named for her family’s lead gift, Jane Cizik Garden Place. No job was too large or too small for Jane to tackle and she did it with a gentle, cheerful spirit. Ever the optimist, Jane always has an encouraging word for all. Her guidance and generosity continue to leave a legacy of excellence.

Adele and Ber Pieper

It was her passion for gardening that first brought Adele Pieper to The Women’s Home. In the late 1980’s, The Post Oak Garden Club supported an outreach project to landscape the grounds on our Montrose campus. As President of the club at that time, Mrs. Pieper hosted several silver teas to raise money for the project while overseeing its design and execution. Along the way, Adele fell in love with the mission of The Women’s Home and encouraged her husband, Ber, to lend his support as well.

Since then, Adele and Ber Pieper have dedicated almost three decades of service to The Women’s Home. Together, they have provided crucial leadership that has helped The Women’s Home grow from a small local agency, into a nationally recognized treatment program. Over the years, the Piepers have taken on some the toughest volunteer positions in our organization; leading our Board of Directors for seven years, chairing two capital campaigns, and serving on our facilities committee, all with grace and enthusiasm. Their calm demeanor and dedication during difficult times are a true inspiration to our staff as well as the volunteers that have come behind them.

Bette Stead

Bette Stead has held almost every position when it comes to growing and building The Women’s Home to what it is today. She has devoted tireless dedication and countless hours for almost 20 years. Bette served on the Board of Directors, presided over the Advisory Board, and she chaired our capital campaign task force that led to the construction of The Home’s first permanent supportive housing community, Jane Cizik Garden Place. Without hesitation, she stepped up again in the same role, but this time to guide our current $27 million capital campaign to build a second apartment community for families and a WholeLife® service center. She cheerfully meshes an amazing team of professionals, often calling for a “dance of joy” whenever we receive particularly great news. Without Bette’s expertise, time and energy, The Women’s Home would not be flourishing as it is today. Our Home has more than doubled in size and revenue since she began her volunteer work here. Bette plays perhaps one of the most influential and pivotal roles for this accomplishment.

Kay and René Joyce

Early in 2003, as a personnel recruiter, Kay Joyce was introduced to The Women’s Home by colleagues who volunteered working with our residents to hone skills for employment. Kay who was drawn to the mission of women who courageously turning their lives around, soon began to lead efforts in our Partnership council to expand our community footprint. She created event after event to attract new supporters, chairing evening mixers, golf tournaments, fashion shows, speaker luncheons and galas. She immediately involved her husband René and with his support and generosity, these events began to not only to break all financial records, but also put The Women’s Home on the map in Houston. The couple has introduced countless individuals and corporations to The Home and has been incredibly generous in both corporate and individual support for all of the major efforts in this formative period. We are proud to have Kay serve on our Board of Directors, continually cheerleading our growth and outreach.

Mandy Kao

Mandy personifies the bright future of The Home. Her gracious “can do” spirit was a welcome addition. As a powerhouse volunteer and advocate, everywhere she goes, Mandy spreads the message of The Women’s Home and brings new supporters to our doors, willing to create the kind of enthusiastic energy that will propel us to great new heights. Her grace, style and passion attract vibrant, diverse and compassionate Houstonians who understand and respect the struggles our residents face. She helped plan the blockbuster reNew and reDo Fashion Event this past August at The Wortham. Mandy’s willingness to build a buzz and set incredibly high expectations for the event went far in promoting our Cottage Resale Shop, a unique treasure in The Home’s past, present and future.

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.

Donate to The Women’s Home and reNew your Wardrobe!

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Tickets for our 6th annual reNew & reDo Fashion Show and Shopping Event are now on sale! With our biggest shopping event of the year on the horizon we are calling all Houston’s most fashionable men and women to clean out their couture closets for the cause.

Months before the show, we begin gathering the high fashion and designer clothing, shoes, handbags, and accessories for men and women from brands including Gucci, Prada, Dior, Chanel, and Michael Kors that will grace the racks and the runway in August. Couture comes from personal closets as well as boutique donations gathered from our friends and neighbors in the community.

If you have gently used designer styles in your closet that are looking for a new life, please contribute to making this year’s reNew & reDo bigger and better than ever by donating them to The Cottage Shop. Have an organization you’re a part of that’s interested in holding a clothing drive? Contact Chau Nguyen at cnguyen@thewomenshome.org or 713-328-1950.

I Have a Place at Jane CIzik Garden Place: Cheryl’s Story

DSC_0506Cheryl had made it. After years of working in Corporate America, she was promoted to an executive position at a Fortune 500 company. She enjoyed her fast-paced career. She managed people and projects. She gave motivating speeches in classrooms and
IMG 3313boardrooms. Her colleagues admired her ability to accomplish huge tasks with confidence and ease.

But on the inside, Cheryl suffered. She grappled with unpredictable low and high moods and could not explain her prolonged sadness. The smallest problems became insurmountable. Work overwhelmed her to the point that she wanted to quit. For a long while, she had mastered disguising her turmoil. Those days were over.

“I’m a person who likes to dress nicely and wear makeup,” Cheryl said. “When I was severely depressed, I would put on more and more make up to cover the pain.”

The white-collar life so familiar to her came to a halt in her 30s when she was hospitalized. Doctors diagnosed Cheryl with bipolar depression disorder, putting a name to the illness that mystified her for a lifetime.

“I had symptoms of depression as a child,” Cheryl said. “But my family and I never knew what it was.”

After moving in with her aging parents and becoming their primary caregiver, Cheryl’s condition deteriorated. Stress at home compounded her disease, yet she feared she could never live on her own again. She wanted peace but had no place to go.

Cheryl found help at the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance and the Fort Bend Center for Independent Living. Both programs empowered her to trust in herself and the recovery process to reclaim the life of independence she desired. An employee at the Fort Bend Center for Independent Living encouraged her to visit Jane Cizik Garden Place, a safe-haven for single women with modest incomes or those who are chronically homeless due to mental illness. She went to an open house and knew that she would call it home one day.

“Everything here — from the seemingly minor details — is so beautiful,” Cheryl said. “The place speaks for itself.”

Since last November, Cheryl is living happily and self-sufficiently at Jane Cizik Garden Place and plans to use her public speaking skills to
inspire residents in transitional housing at The Women’s Home. Cheryl’s experience testifies that a worthwhile life of interdependence within a community of courageous women is attainable. She feels grateful coming home to a secure, comfortable apartment she can proudly call her own. Each morning as she drinks a cup of coffee and looks across her balcony to the meditation garden, she takes it all in, realizing she has arrived.

Moving Out to Moving Up: Laura’s Story

_DSC0069Laura came to The Women’s Home after escaping an incredibly abusive eight year relationship.

She left, when she could not take it anymore, leaving with a tiny overnight bag and no money.

Laura found refuge at a small community hospital when her “angel”, a receptionist at the entry desk, saw her outward wounds and found a shelter for her to find safety. On the first day at her temporary residence, another client told her of The Women’s Home. She knew then, she had found a way to mend her broken life.

Her abuser had virtually controlled her every decision:  isolated her, stripped her dignity – because, you see, she was vulnerable. For her entire life, Laura had never had someone care for her and make her home a safe place to live. She dealt with homelessness and the foster care system as a child. She watched both of her brothers die, often the caretaker for their needs. Laura saw addiction and alcoholism take their toll on her parents and step-parents. She was the victim of sexual violence.

As a teen, Laura rebelled. She ran away from home and was truant from school. In her twenties, she grew quiet and accepted what she thought was her fate.

During her time at The Women’s Home, Laura found hope again. She set goals. When asked what made the difference, she was quick to say: “It was the counseling. They asked me to write letters to release all the pain inflicted on me. I learned to forgive, and I forgave myself.”

While at The Women’s Home, Laura’s vocational counselors assisted her with the confidence to interview and begin a job as an early morning baker at Einstein’s Bagel. Two years later, she is the preferred candidate for their general manager position.

A Guiding Light to the Lost: Tina’s Story

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For 10 years Tina sought shelter at a bus stop, living a life consumed by addiction and a struggle to stay alive, by any means necessary. We may have all passed her by, a woman marginalized and out of touch with basic needs.

It wasn’t always this way. Tina grew up in Abbeville, Louisiana the daughter of a very young mother. She graduated from high school, became a nurse and started a family. Her marriage was violent and emotionally abusive, not too different from her childhood.

When her husband left her to raise the children alone, her economic struggles began. She turned to alcohol as a means of escape. She quickly lost control. She lost her job, her family, and she began to suffer from debilitating chronic depression. Tina attempted suicide twice. Her family rejected her and put her on a bus to Houston, broken and dejected.

Upon her arrival in a new city, Tina found work and an apartment; but her addiction again interfered. She was evicted and with no place to go, she turned to life on the streets making her home at a bus stop.

After a severe brain stoke in 2007, Tina began to pray that something would change. An arrest saved her life.

Tina was placed in the STAR Court, an alternative of treatment and support for repeat offenders. Rather than incarceration, she was guided through a continuum of care that led her to sobriety.

After cursory drug treatment, Tina found The Women’s Home Treatment and Transitional Housing Program. There she was immersed in the WholeLife Model of care. Mental health counseling was offered to her for the first time. She developed a spiritual life with the guidance of a volunteer spiritual companion.

Vocational counselors helped Tina formulate a plan and secure needed income through the social security disability program and food stamps. She learned to believe in herself and dream of a better future.

After her stay at The Women’s Home, Tina continued her journey through part-time work and study. She was able to have her own time and space to discover the God of her understanding. She spent months healing her body through access to public healthcare.

Today, Tina has created a new life. She has her own home, a beautiful apartment at Jane Cizik Garden Place. She is sharing her experience, strength and hope as an outreach employee for a local mental health association. She is a state certified recovery coach continuing her training as a peer counselor. She is a beacon of hope to brothers and sisters who find themselves lost and alone in shelters, on the street and in treatment centers.

Tina pays her own way for all her needs, having turned back the government assistance she once relied upon. Her journey from crisis to self-sufficiency is truly inspirational and nothing short of a miracle.

Coming in September: The Women’s Home Re:Entry Summit

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.

Women reentering society face additional challenges that are often overlooked including a lack of job skills, need for family housing, and difficulty finding employers offering positions conducive to childcare responsibilities. These challenges combined with a lack of resources and support put women with criminal records at higher risk of homelessness, mental illness, and addiction than their male counterparts.

This obvious need is why The Women’s Home will be hosting an all day summit to show community leaders the faces of those struggling with reentry. The Re:Entry summit, funded in part by Houston Bar Foundation, will take place September 30th United Way Houston. Partnering with local organizations, the summit will address issues including housing, job skills, the children our incarceration system leaves behind and research supported alternatives to the traditional prison system.

The summit will have education panels featuring local experts and policy makers who are advocating for fair and accessible resources for those with criminal histories. This portion of the summit will focus on educating service providers, community leaders, and local businesses about the challenges women previously incarcerated face when reentering society.

“We see these struggles everyday with many of the clients we serve, and we hope this summit serves as a way to address the problems, while directly helping the women who will be attending,” Marcia Tapp, Director of Resource Development for The Women’s Home said.

Spirituality: The Search Continues

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Residents continue their spiritual journey with The Search Continues

Readers may remember we began our spiritual program The Courage To Search in the summer of 2014. The Courage to Search, which was featured in our Fall 2014 newsletter, is a seven week program residents of our Treatment and Transitional program can participate in after their first 90 days at The Women’s Home. The program begins with a Meaning System Interview (MSI), developed by The Women’s Home collaborator and Vice President of the Institute for Spirituality and Health, Stuart Nelson, and his mentor, Dr. Ann Taves, which helps residents map their spiritual belief system at the start of the course and is done again midway through to mark their progress. The MSI is designed to allow open exploration for all belief systems, whether an individual is a devout member of a particular religion, a nondenominational theist, or a strict atheist. The course engages participants in exploring what spirituality is for them, how they see not only themselves but others on a deeper level.

The Courage to Search program has received such positive feedback from residents that The Home is developing a continuation of the program called The Search Continues. The Search Continues will pair residents who’ve completed The Courage to Search with their own trained spiritual companion to help them further their individual journey. Stuart Nelson is working with staff to develop The Search Continues with the help of community volunteer Mary Gracely, an ordained interfaith minister who first heard about The Women’s Home when she was invited to deliver the invocation at our Women of Substance afternoon tea. Exploring opportunities to become involved Mary was invited to become a part of the trained volunteer team that organizes and develops our spiritual program.

When Mary sat in on one of the Courage to Search sessions she was “absolutely blown away by everyone in attendance.” Mary who became an interfaith minister through the One Spirit Interfaith Seminary spent two years studying the practices of many faiths including Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, and Christianity. She enjoys working with people who are seeking spiritual growth and helping them reconnect with the divine part of themselves. “We trip up in our humanness, but I think when we return to that divine remembrance we live life in a more joyful way…The payoff is absolutely grand.”

Staff members along with Mary and Stuart will meet with residents who’ve completed The Courage to Search to hear their feedback and what they are seeking from The Search Continues in order to develop the best program for their needs. For more information contact The Women’s Home Development Manager, Debra Richmond at drichmond@thewomenshome.org or 713-328-1950.