Giving Houston a Reason to Run

RunforaReasonCollage Web Res

Sunday, January 18, 2015, thousands of runners gathered at the starting line downtown before the morning light even crested over the buildings. These runners had all trained for months to participate in the Chevron Houston Marathon, and all had their own motivations driving them to the finish line.

Every year as a part of the Chevron Houston Marathon, the Run for a Reason Program helps runners directly raise money for charities. Run for a Reason provides an avenue for race participants, individuals and organizations to collect donations on behalf of an official charity of their choice. It also provides a platform for charities to raise awareness and educate others about their cause. In 2015, Run for a Reason linked 30,000 runners with 60 charities, and this year 29 athletes ran on behalf of The Women’s Home, helping raise nearly $16,000 for our program this marathon season. We’d like especially to thank the who had 16 runners supporting The Women’s Home.

The Home has been one of Run for a Reason’s benefitting charities since 2011, and the 2014-2015 Marathon season marks the fifth year in a row that the Run for a Reason program has raised over $2 million dollars for the participating charities. Since Run for a Reason began in 1995, runners have raised over $21 billion for various charities. Over $61,729 has been raised for The Women’s Home in the four years since we became a beneficiary of the program.

In addition to having runners on the streets, The Home had volunteers at one of the refueling stations the day of the race. Volunteers from The Home helped runners rehydrate and stay motivated, passing out Gatorade and water while cheering them on as the marathoners went past on mile 9 of the half marathon.

Congratulations and thank you to all the runners who made The Women’s Home their reason to run this marathon season!

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!

Dress for Success & Paradigm2Women Empower our Residents to be Professional

Dress for Success

Dress for Success Houston has been helping Houston women attain economic independence by providing professional attire, a network of support and career development tools to women in need since 1988. Saturday April 25th, a group of volunteers from Dress for Success Houston, led by Dorothy Prejean, a Project Manager for 2015’s Community Action Project: Paradigm2Women, helped residents from our treatment and transitional program find their style for success. “It was my honor and privilege to be a part of the planning and execution for the 2015 Community Action Project: ‘Paradigm2Women.’ The pleasure to work with the staff and women at The Women’s Home was very rewarding. I walked away with an overwhelming feeling of joy and happiness for the success of the project.” Dorothy said.

The day began bright and early with residents coming in their professional best in outfits donated by Dress for Success the day before. A volunteer provided make-up and hair guidance before residents took professional photos suitable for job applications and business profiles. After photos, the residents were each given a personal introduction and the chance to walk the meeting room runway while volunteers read the residents’ bios to the group. After a brief overview and introduction of the day’s agenda, the residents participated in three educational panels on different subjects including how to re-enter the workforce with confidence, how to present your skills in an interview, and diversity in the workplace.

“The presentations were very informative and I took quite a bit of information from that entire day. Thank you so much for that wonderful opportunity it was greatly appreciated!” Sarah* one of our residents said about CAP day. After the workshops, residents were able to ask questions in a Q & A session. One of the event speakers, Mustafaa Carroll stated, “I was quite impressed by their focus on helping women to become employable, employed, and in effect rebuild their lives. Everything I witnessed from beginning to end was positive, and upbeat.”

The group broke for lunch along with an impromptu dance party before the day closed with a gift raffle and certificates for the days’ participants. The residents enjoyed the dedication of the volunteers and appreciated the information and consideration they received. “They served us and it just felt amazing that they wanted to do it for us. I appreciate each and every one of the volunteers.” Laura*, a resident said of her CAP day experience.

*In order to protect our residents from stigma, names have been changed.

La Maison Apartments Clean House for The Cottage Shop

Interior garage sale, housewares, clothing, slorting goods and toys.

Spring is a season of renewal, a time to take stock and clear away the clutter of the past year, making it perfect timing for La Maison Apartment’s monthly giving event to partner with The Women’s Home’s Cottage Shop. The beginning of spring marks the time when many of its 400-plus residents clean house, getting rid of everything from clothing to small household items. So what better charity to donate to than The Women’s Home’s Cottage Shop?

When the staff sent the announcement for tenants to clean out their closets and bring donations to the downstairs office, La Maison wasn’t sure what they would receive. But on the day of the Spring Donation Drive, the response was positive. La Maison’s Sunday afternoon Spring Cleaning Drive proved to be a huge success. Bags and bags of clothing filled a room, stuffed with clothes, purses, coats and much much more. There were even small items like lamps and frames collected.

La Maison is a luxury apartment community nestled in River Oaks, with many of its tenants are urban professionals. We are so grateful for Apartment communities like La Maison for donation drives like these.

If you live in an apartment community, we would love to hear from you on how we can help set up a similar drive for your apartment neighbors. Please contact Chau Nguyen, Manager of Community Involvement at cnguyen@thewomenshome.org or at 713-328-1950.

Brownie Scout Troop 24053 visits The Cottage Shop

Brownies Outside 1

The Brownie Scouts outside The Cottage Shop

Getting an early start in giving back to the wider community is an important opportunity for growing girls and recently The Cottage Shop was able to give that experience to Brownie Scout Troop 24053. The troop, led by Desire Witherspoon a 2010 graduate of our treatment program and Troop 24053’s leader, spent the day volunteering to earn the Philanthropist badges. Desire, who lives in our supportive housing apartment complex, Jane Cizik Garden Place and works as one of the select staff members of Alcoholics Anonymous, immediately thought of The Home after explaining the meaning of philanthropy to her scouts. “I defined philanthropy to them as the practice of giving your time, talent, or treasure for benefit of the common good.” She contacted our Shop Manager, Cheri Barton, to schedule a volunteer and tour time for her daughter’s troop.

The Brownie Scouts toured our facilities at 811 Westheimer, where Desire’s photo proudly hangs among our graduate pictures. They assisted other volunteers in sorting and hanging clothing, their own donations among the items. “I asked each girl to bring a small donation and they got to witness the transition from an item being dropped off to being processed in to being put on the floor for retail. Cheri was extremely patient and very informative.” Desire said.

The girls were curious to learn the ins and outs of The Cottage Shop as well as The Home. “Those litter girls were full of questions. They wanted to start volunteering now!” Cheri said.

Thank you to Desire for introducing Brownie Scout Troop 24053 to The Women’s Home and reminding us that giving back has no age limit!