In the fall of 2017, The Women’s Home began offering services at the Mabee WholeLife® Service Center located next door to our housing complex, Jane Cizik Garden Place. This 30,000 square foot service center is a multi-purpose facility that collaborates with community partners offer a variety of services to enhance the wellness and stability of families in our housing programs and the surrounding neighborhood.
The WholeLife® Collaborative
Through the WholeLife Collaborative, The Women’s Home seeks to establish a continuum of care made up of stakeholders from the public and private sector who work collectively to impact the health and well-being of the Spring Branch East community. This effort is centered in Spring Branch at our new, 30,000 sq. ft., Mabee WholeLife® Service Center which opened at the end of 2017. At this unique facility, The Women’s Home and its core partners intend to offer holistic care for the entire family that includes primary and behavioral healthcare, education and enrichment services for elementary aged children, workforce development training, adult basic education, physical wellness, creative arts engagement and other support services.
The Women’s Home is serving as the backbone organization for this collaborative initiative and will oversee management, facilitation and data collection and dissemination for the entire project. To ensure our work is community-based, The Women’s Home will partner with Baker Ripley to implement their Appreciative Community Building model within the collaborative. This tool will engage the neighborhood in future program design and ensure our services are responsive to local needs.
As our service center becomes fully-operational over the next eighteen months, we anticipate it will serve nearly 6,000 individuals annually. We intend to build local families’ capacity to grow and thrive by influencing them at every stage of life cooperatively through our WholeLife® model of care. The following core services will be offered to help achieve this goal:
Integrated Primary and Behavioral Healthcare
In 2017, The Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute (MMHPI) released a comprehensive assessment of Harris County’s health care system evaluating its capacity to provide mental health services to children, youth, and families. MMHPI’s report identified that Harris County currently has six integrated health care programs and multiple systems that include some form of integrated care capacity. However, none of these facilities are located in the Spring Branch area – the closest is 10 miles to the south in the Bellaire area.
To help address this need, The WholeLife® Collaborative will offer comprehensive, integrated care to under- and un-insured households in the area. Primary healthcare services are provided through an on-site Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) operated by our partner Spring Branch Community Health Center (SBCHC). Open five days a week, this 6,345 square foot clinic provides bilingual treatment (English and Spanish) that includes family practice, pediatric care, and women’s wellness services.
In 2018, The Women’s Home will work collectively with SBCHC and other program partners to offer integrated, outpatient behavioral health treatment on a full-time basis. Services offered will include mental health counseling for individuals, families, children and adolescents; prevention and early intervention support; psychoeducation groups; peer services; substance use disorder and co-occurring disorder treatment; recovery support groups; and case management.
Educational Services for Children
Research done by the U.S. Government has shown that afterschool programs have a positive effect on the academic, social, and physical growth of a child.[i] To aid the development of children in the Spring Branch area, The WholeLife® Collaborative will provide after-school, summer and enrichment programming to local at-risk elementary aged children. These programs will support the learning goals of the Spring Branch Independent School District and Treasure Forest Elementary School, a local elementary school that is located across the street from the center.
The service center has over 15,000 square feet of educational space dedicated for children including special areas specifically designed for creative movement and the arts. The facility also features a Certified Outdoor Classroom designed by Nature Explore, a non-profit dedicated to enhancing children’s lives through research-based outdoor classroom design services, educator workshops, and natural products. This space will be available for children in our after-school and summer programs to use in guided learning activities and will provide children who have a history of trauma with a place for guided therapeutic play.
Educational Services for Adults
Research done by the Corporation for Enterprise Development has revealed that 20% of households in Houston live in poverty and 52% are financially vulnerable. These families do not have enough money to live above the poverty level for just three months if they face a minor setback. This situation is worse for households of color in our area – 66% of African-American households and 74% of Hispanic households are liquid asset poor. These families need comprehensive support services to help them overcome obstacles and achieve lasting stability.
To help address these needs, The Women’s Home and its partners will make Adult Basic Education (ABE), General Educational Development (GED), English as a Second Language (ESL), college courses and other specialized workforce development training available to adults of all ages at the service center. Over 6,000 square feet within the center was designed specifically for adult education and workforce development training. This space features a 30-unit computer lab for online and community college coursework, and four distance learning classrooms equipped with smart board and video conferencing technology. Movable, partitioned walls between the classrooms can accommodate small groups for classes or training, but also allow the space to be transformed into one large room that can seat over 100 people.
 Citi Bank, CFED, Center for Public Priorities (2015). Building Financial Resilience in Houston: A Data Profile. Family Assets Count – Building Financial Resilience in Amercia, 1-9.
[i] “Benefits for Youth, Families, & Communities.” Benefits for Youth, Families, & Communities | Youth.Gov, youth.gov/youth-topics/afterschool-programs/benefits-youth-families-and-communities.