Thank you to all our Winter Holiday Volunteers

volunteer appreciation image2The Winter Holidays can be a daunting time of year where our residents, despite all their hard work and progress feel the pain of their struggles more deeply than usual. Thankfully support from local volunteers helped make the 2015 holiday season a little brighter for our residents.

Every year a number of organizations host drives within their communities to provide needed items for our residents. This year a number of organizations, including Urban Leasing and Realty (ULR), Alpha Chi Omega, Avondale Civic Association, and Elevate all held toiletry drives benefitting The Women’s Home. Full size toiletries are among the most common basic needs of our treatment and transitional residents as well as the tenants of our single bedroom supportive housing facility, Jane Cizik Garden Place. ULR has hosted needs drives for Jane Cizik Garden Place for the last 3 years, helping to stock the complex’s emergency pantries that are on each floor of the three-story community. Alpha Chi Omega has also organized yearly drives supporting The Home for at least a decade every holiday season.
Several organizations this year donated gifts to our residents including American Intercontinental University, Cypress United Methodist Church, West U Rotary Club, and Shany Cosmetics. American Intercontinental University’s Houston campus donated purses they had collected and filled with toiletries for each of our residents. We featured Cypress United Methodist Church last December, for their continued dedication to bringing holiday boot boxes filled to the brim with essentials for our residents for over three decades. These boxes give them everything they need to look and feel their best when they begin their job searches. Each box includes a holiday card, candy can and a hand knit pair of slippers. Shany Cosmetics also helped residents put a little glamour to their look by donating makeup to our treatment and transitional residents. West U Rotary Club ensured our residents’ toes will be warm throughout the winter with their donation of slippers.

Kim Mathes, a member of The Women’s Home Partnership donated her time this New Year’s Eve to our residents. Kim has been one of our regular volunteers supporting our monthly birthday celebrations for our Treatment and Transitional residents. This year she helped them ring in the New Year with a game night at the suggestion of Manager of Residential Services, Nelda Allen. The residents chose Bingo as their game of choice and played for door prize donated to The Home. “Several ladies won bingo more than once and gave their door prize options to the other ladies who had not won. It was great to see the comradery. I admire each one of the women and have seen the wonderful benefits of their hard work and efforts through the program. Everyone affiliated with The Women’s Home is such an inspiration!” Kim said.

Support from these organizations and individuals made an incredible difference in our resident’s winter holiday season. We thank all of you for bringing our residents a little cheer for the end of the year.

The Women’s Home Weekly Brown Bag Lunch

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We’ve talked before about our weekly brown bag lunches for our treatment and transitional housing residents, where different speakers come share their knowledge and stories. Brown Bag provides individuals and organizations opportunities to share their unique skills and insights with our residents, providing education and inspiration in line with our WholeLife® Program. Here’s some of the incredible groups and speakers we’ve had share their time and stories with our residents recently as well as speakers we’re excited will be coming soon.

The Women’s Fund is a local nonprofit dedicated to providing health education for women and adolescent girls through seminars, classes and publications. Volunteers from The Women’s Fund come the second brown bag of each month to present workshops to our residents. Subjects in their classes include, heart health, exercise, building good nutrition, how to advocate for your health, and keeping track of your medical records.

Lola Clay is a licensed counselor who has trained at the Jung Center here in Houston and received her Ph.D in Jungian Studies from Saybrook University. Jungian psychology, also known as analytical psychology, is based on the research of Carl Jung which emphasizes individualized care to help clients achieve wholeness. Lola Clay spoke at Brown Bag for the first time in August of 2015 and will return in February to speak again.

Linda Lewis has been involved with The Women’s Home for nearly 20 years after being introduced by fellow longtime supporter and member of The Women’s Home Advisory Board, Adele Pieper. She always appreciates any opportunity to work directly with our residents and is impacted by “seeing how their life changes as they work their way through their personal difficulties and regain confidence in who they are.  There is little that separates us, and they remind me how grateful I should be for the blessings in my own life.” January 22, 2016 she will be speaking about the importance of creativity and how each of us is creative in our own way. Linda, who has woven unique cloth for clothing and home décor for over 30 years, found a creative outlet that combines her love of texture and color with working with her hands. “Much of my work is influenced by what I see in nature’s colors and textures which are full of wonder.”

Sahar Pazirandeh, founder of Free Your Star Foundation and author of Find Your Voice, the life you crave is a conversation away, is dedicated to helping others realize their strength and potential. An Iran native, Sahar shared her personal story “of being born in a war, surviving abuse, fighting addictions, and finally finding my voice. I highlighted the reflection of her [the residents’] journey in mine. How our histories don’t need to be anything alike of us to hold each other up as women, as Shero’s (she-roes).”  About The Home and our residents, Sahar said, “It’s a place filled with Shero’s. Almost every woman in The Women’s Home could label herself a victim, instead she has chosen to become the Shero of her story. She has made the choice to be brutally honest with herself on one hand, and completely compassionate on the other. You can’t help but support a woman on this journey. It’s often said, help a woman heal, and she will help an entire community.”

Brown Bag is a fantastic opportunity for anyone seeking to get involved with The Women’s Home who may not have the time to volunteer on a regular basis. We are always looking for more speakers who can share insights and resources relevant to the since tenants of our WholeLife Program: spiritual, mental and emotional, physical, financial, vocational, and social wellness.

If you’re interested in speaking at brown bag, contact Volunteer & Collaborations Coordinator Jenna Jackson at jjackson@thewomenshome.org or 713-568-1356.

The Women’s Home on Elaine Turner’s Big Ideas

Houston’s handbag queen and owner of Elaine Turner Designs, Elaine Turner featured The Women’s Home in the latest episode of her online reality show, Elaine’s Big Ideas.

Elaine and her stylist team, with the help of SoK Owner and The Women’s Home Board Member, Alden Clark helped one of our residents, Mary, boost her confidence as she prepared to start on her job search.

Thank you to Mary for having the courage to share her story and to Alden, Elaine, and all of her team for their heartfelt work.

Watch the episode right now:

Premiering the episode on her website, Elaine wrote to viewers:

I’m so excited to share with you this inspiring, New Year EBI episode, A New Year, A New You: A Transformation of heart, mind and soul.

 I feel so blessed to have worked with The Women’s Home over the past year.  I was inspired to get even more involved and engage in a firsthand experience of working with one of their incredible clients, Mary Burgess. Mary is a 42 year old, beautiful woman who has been struggling with abuse, mental illness and addiction for most of her adult life. She was on the brink of going to prison and an opportunity to enter into a comprehensive, whole life recovery program presented itself to her by The Women’s home. Well, the rest is history and Mary is a living testament to the power of transformation. Mary discovered the strength to change her self-destructive path through the support of The Women’s Home and in her belief that there was a better future for herself. Ultimately, Mary made a conscious choice to change the trajectory of her life. She discovered that eternal, perfect self that is so often buried beneath years of shame, guilt and hardship- inspiring!

 My intent on creating this episode was to engage in an intimate one on one interaction with Mary, and to educate and inspire her on the role fashion can play on her self-improvement journey. My belief is when you boil it all down, fashion is simply a vehicle toward self-care, self-discovery and self-expression. Fashion is an enhancer. It has the power to enhance what’s already there. My passion is empowering women. I want to free them from the confines of what an industry (fashion/beauty) might perceive as beautiful and to destroy the barriers fashion so often creates-  fear-induced, never good enough language, shame driven body imagery etc… These are just a couple of themes we must redefine. Ultimately, my hope is to redefine fashion one woman at a time. 

 I am a firm believer that the work The Women’s Home provides is an essential part of not only our local community’s success, but ultimately the work we do right here in Houston impacts women across the world. To the say the least, it’s in all of our best interest to protect, encourage and support women. Liya Kebede said it so perfectly, “To invest in one woman’s recovery, is investing in human rights, future generations and our own long term national interests”  

So please join me on this journey of transformation, compassion, hope and understanding.

XO,

Elaine

Connecting with Spiritual Companions

Search COntinues FinalWe’ve talked before about how The Women’s Home’s impactful spiritual program The Courage to Search’s rousing success led to the development of a follow up program, The Search Continues. The Courage to Search is our 10 week program where interested members of our treatment and transitional program explore and reflect on their spiritual beliefs, solidify their spiritual practices and find a faith home with the guidance of trained volunteers. Development of The Search Continues began after residents who participated in The Courage to Search expressed interest in continuing their spiritual growth in a structured environment.

The goal of The Search Continues is to provide those clients with individual spiritual companions. These are volunteers who have training or extensive background in some faith tradition, and who will meet regularly with clients to discuss their spirituality. Among this first group of spiritual companions are newly involved volunteers as well as returning friends of The Home who have supported our residents’ spiritual growth before. In addition to spiritual companions, The Search Continues will provide clients with ongoing spiritual activities or opportunities in the Houston area, building on The Courage to Search’s field trips to local faith destinations.

Our Search Continues Spiritual companions will undergo orientation at the beginning of January, with the program slated to debut later that month.

With a Little Help from Our Friends

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The work we do here at The Women’s Home would not be possible without the amazing support of dedicated volunteers in the Houston Community. Volunteers provide support through all aspects of our operations, from helping our special events run smoothly and keeping merchandise moving at The Cottage Shop, to providing job training classes and hosting events for our residents.

On Saturday November 7th the Omega Gamma Zeta (OGZ) Chapter of Zeta Phi Beta, Inc. Sorority volunteered at The Cottage Shop helping process incoming donations and prepare merchandise for the shop floor. Back in May, OGZ asked a member of our staff to speak at their annual Parade of Salads Luncheon, which focused on the importance of mental health awareness in the community. OGZ has been supporting the Houston community through volunteer work since their founding in August 1990. The Women’s Home is grateful to have OGZ volunteer with us and their help is always welcome.

On Tuesday October 27th our residents’ final awards banquet of the year was hosted by a group of volunteers from the National Charity League-Heart of Texas Chapter—a mother-daughter volunteer organization that first helped out The Home back in March. Organizer Jenny Finch and other representatives from NCL decorated the room with beautiful fresh pumpkins carved into flower vases and warm fall centerpieces for the ceremony. NCL also stocked the dessert table with delicious cakes and cookies, and provided door prizes for the evening along with gifts for our graduating residents. Our quarterly awards banquets are important occasions where residents’ hard efforts are acknowledged and celebrated, and we thank NCL for making this impactful evening all the more beautiful. We’re excited to have NCL return in December to decorate our residential facilities and life learning center for the season.

Interested in volunteering? Contact us at volunteer@thewomenshome.org.

 

ExxonMobil Makes an Impact

Impact Day COllage smallExxon Mobil Impact day was Tuesday October 20, 2015 and 40 volunteers from ExxonMobil’s Fuels, Lubes, Corporate Global Services Company (FLCG) Procurement Team took over The Cottage Shop to give the store a boost inside and out! The Shop was closed for the day as volunteers rolled up their sleeves and gave the walls a fresh coat of paint, including our fitting rooms and their doors, installed 31 new shelves for our shoe displays, and laid gravel beside our bushes along Westheimer.

Volunteers were also busy down in the basement, helping us sort through the major treasure trove of clothing, shoes, jewelry and other accessories generously donated by a boutique. Their help processing all this merchandise was integral to getting the new goods out on the floor for our shoppers to enjoy!

This day of giving back is a part of Exxon Mobil’s Impact Day, formerly called Day of Caring, with United Way. With over 10,500 volunteers this year, Impact Day projects through United Way give corporations the opportunity to give back and support the needs of local nonprofits. ExxonMobil’s FLCG Team Procurement Associate Spencer Hutchings said they selected The Women’s Home as beneficiaries “based on the upstanding work The Home does and the values that it holds.”

The Women’s Home is grateful to ExxonMobil’s FLCG Procurement Team for their hard work and enthusiasm!

Looking for Shop Support

b2ap3_thumbnail_DSC05767The Cottage Shop has racks of exciting new merchandise–with more needing sorting!

Frequent shoppers at The Cottage Shop will notice that we’ve been receiving lots of new merchandise, and we always appreciate support in getting things sorted from inside the door to go out on the floor! We’ve had an influx of donations from generous boutiques and need help getting donated items processed and ready for our customers.

Recent volunteer groups have been doing their part to get things moving. On September 24, the Women’s Team Member Network at Wells Fargo visited The Women’s Home to learn more about the work we do and to volunteer. Manager of Volunteer Service Chris Hammond spoke to the group about volunteer opportunities before giving the floor to Board Member Mary Arnold. Finally, Wells Fargo Volunteers heard from one of our residents, who shared the impact The Women’s Home has had on her life. They then headed over to The Cottage Shop to help process and sort incoming merchandise and help prepare materials for the Re:Entry Summit The Home held on Wednesday, September 30.

Aetna, who volunteered in the Cottage Shop on  September 19, came back October 3. Groups like Wells Fargo and Aetna aren’t alone. In the past month, we’ve had volunteers from:

 Episcopal High School

Five Stars

Methodist Hospital

Exxon Mobil

In the coming weeks, we’re excited to already have several groups scheduled including:

Double Tree Hotel

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Southern Methodist University

University of Houston Social Work Club

University of Houston’s Metropolitan Volunteer Program

If you or your office, social group, or faith community are looking for opportunities to get involved with The Home and would like to learn more about volunteering, please contact us at volunteer@thewomenshome.org.

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.

Scouts at Jane Cizik Garden Place

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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

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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.