Celebrating 60 Years of Service to Houston Women
Throughout its long history, The Women’s Home has provided women in crisis the opportunity to rebuild their lives through our supportive programs and housing services. The Home began with one woman, Mrs. Laura Sampson who was a leader in her community helping another in need. Since The Home’s inception in 1957, we have expanded from being able to serve a few women each year, to serving hundreds annually.
Landmarks and Legacies
After seeking aid from a Houston-area rescue mission for men, in a city where no such facilities exist for women, a young woman named Mary Brown is referred to local church and community leader Mrs. Laura Sampson. Struck by Mary’s need and the lack of available resources for other women like her, Mrs. Sampson welcomes Mary into her own home and begins planning with her friends to create a place where women like Mary can heal and rebuild their lives. Property is rented at 2914 LaBranch and the Women’s Christian Mission, as The Home is then called, opens its doors to women in need.
Prominent Houstonian JoAnn King Herring began working in earnest to raise needed funding for The Mission’s first expansion, the purchase of a residence in a nearby neighborhood. The Women’s Home Auxiliary, the predecessor to our Partnership and Young Professionals group, is formed in 1963 to provide volunteer and financial support to The Home. The group’s annual Style Show and Luncheon becomes a long-standing tradition which is still an important fundraiser today.
Reaching out and Moving Forward
Beloved Barbara Woodard becomes Executive Director in 1974 and serves in that position for 17 years. Barbara, who has a master’s degree in Social Work, researches the impact The Mission has on the women it serves and builds a more structured program. She begins to define three core areas; residential, counseling and vocational by developing programs and strengthens services in each area. She also moves the agency away from overnight shelter services to transitional rehabilitation and housing.
Work is completed on the current dormitory—a comfortable, home-like facility accommodating 26 women.
A vocational workshop is established to aid clients in gaining employment after graduating
from the program. The Women’s Home purchases a commercial building at 607 Westheimer. The first floor accommodates The Cottage Shop, with administrative offices and daytime client services located on the second floor.
Serving Body, Mind and Spirit, the beginnings of WholeLife®
Paula Paust becomes Executive Director. Paust, who has a Master’s Degree in Social Work, develops a model of care for the agency expanding the focus of The Home’s rehabilitation program to include Emotional/Mental Wellness, Physical wellness, Spiritual wellness, Social wellness, and Fiscal wellness. This treatment, informed by contemporary best practices is our WholeLife Program. In addition, she strengthens the financial and collaborative position of The Home to prepare for growth.
Barbara’s House, named to honor former Executive Director Barbara Woodard, is built to provide a home for six additional women.
The Women’s Home begins a capital expansion project aimed at providing the facilities necessary to become a nationally-recognized model for residential rehabilitation. The expansion allows The Home to purchase the last remaining lot on the residential block and complete its campus, which now includes the dormitory, Barbara’s House and three additional new transitional homes, all centered around The Home’s chapel.
The capital expansion also allows The Home to expand and improve our clinical, vocational and administrative facilities. The Home now owns two commercial buildings on Westheimer Road. The building at 607 Westheimer houses administration, admissions and volunteer services. The second building, at 811 Westheimer, is known as the Life Learning Center and accommodates the clinical and vocational programs, as well as The Cottage Thrift Shop.
In November 2010, The Women’s Home completes construction on our most ambitious residential program at the time, Jane Cizik Garden Place, named after long-time volunteer and benefactor, Jane Cizik. This apartment complex consists of 87 one-bedroom apartments dedicated to providing a permanent safe, sober living environment for those with limited income. Also on campus are community spaces including a computer lab, fitness and meditation rooms as well as a large multi-purpose room with views into the garden courtyard, labyrinth and administrative offices. Case management provided by two fulltime case managers and enrichment programming is available to residents.
In December 2010, The Women’s Home purchases an acre of land adjacent to Jane Cizik Garden Place. On another adjacent acre, The Home owns a small commercial building and large warehouse. These properties offer many possibilities to build on the strengths of The Women’s Home and in March 2012, the development of a strategic and community needs assessment took place that ultimately led to the capital campaign that began in 2013 .
In 2011, our treatment and transitional housing program at our Montrose campus gained national recognition for our quality of service and commitment to providing research informed care. The Women’s Home is one of 15 agencies across the nation and the only one in Texas invited by SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) to participate in an elite national workgroup charged with identifying best practices in providing sober housing and treatment for women who are homeless. Together we are advocates for social justice issues including homelessness, poverty, prison re-entry, mental illness, substance abuse, and health.
Reaching out and Moving Forward 2013-2017
The Women’s Home launched a $27 million capital campaign for our latest expansion project to develop a unique, affordable community in which women and their families can thrive. This exciting new project will expand our existing site in Spring Branch to include an 84-unit apartment complex with two and three bedroom units that will provide affordable housing and support services to women and their families. In addition, the venture will also develop a WholeLife® Service Center that will house a Federally Qualified Health Clinic (FQHC) -operated by our partner, Spring Branch Community Health Center – afterschool and summer enrichment for children, behavioral health services for families and workforce development training for adults.
The Women’s Home broke ground and began constructing affordable housing for families on June 4, 2015. With a $3.5 million investment from the City of Houston, we have raised 80% of our campaign goal and plan to begin construction this spring.
100% of the $27 million dollar capital campaign was successfully raised. Groundbreaking and construction on our new Mabee WholeLife® Service Center began in October 2016. The Women’s Home opened the doors to our new apartment community, Adele and Ber Pieper Family Place on October 17, 2016. All 84 families moved in within a few months following the opening.
Our Mabee WholeLife® Service Center dedication will be October 26, 2017.