Author: Catholic Charities Published:
More families are being helped out of generational poverty as the result of a program expansion at Catholic Charities one year ago.
Last September, Harbor House at Catholic Charities was unable to serve 121 people seeking shelter from domestic violence because the shelter was full. Today, the number of people turned away each month is down to 52 because of additional accommodations resulting from the October, 2015 opening of The Mount – Extended Stay Shelter and Family Enrichment Complex, located at 3700 E. Lincoln. In addition, Harbor House has increased its operational capacity by 42 percent. By year’s end, 100 clients will have spent time at both Harbor House and The Mount.
At St. Anthony Family Shelter a different, but just as impactful picture has emerged. Two-thirds of families staying at the crisis family shelter move onto The Mount. Seventy-seven percent of these families move into permanent housing upon exit, and seventy-two percent leave with sufficient savings.
This past June, The Mount introduced Life Enrichment Activities for domestic violence survivors and homeless families there. The family strengthening and interpersonal skill development strategies are designed to break cycles of poverty and move people to economic stability.
One group session focuses on relationships for both adults and children. The five-part workshop for adults was developed by Catholic Charities Educational Services Coordinator, Brian S. Mills, Ph.D., and walks individuals through a series of steps culminating in a clear path to improving relationships, stabilizing emotional health and achieving life goals. The program, entitled “Stepping Stones to Success,” helps clients learn to recognize strengths and weaknesses in their personalities, gain tips to short-circuit stress, find ways to maintain healthy boundaries, identify conflict and prepare to move forward as a family.
While adults meet in session, children gather for structured instruction and play. They learn age-appropriate anti-bullying techniques, healthy self-esteem and ways to make new friends and get along with teachers and others.
“The two-generation approach is a life changing, long-term strategy for families moving forward together,” said Jenny Foster-Farquhar, department director of Family Strengthening Services for the agency. “Families also eat together before beginning their sessions, adding a true sense of unity and common purpose.”
Additional sessions focus on parenting skills for adults and behavior and character development methods for younger participants. Based on Dr. Thomas Phelan’s bestselling “1-2-3 Magic,” both groups discover ways to control obnoxious behavior while encouraging good alternatives. Financial skills education is also included in the rotating schedule.
“This is a model that intuitively works with our established residential community and is one that takes a community to support for maximum impact,” said Foster-Farquhar.
Along with these positive trends, Catholic Charities has witnessed another pattern. More children in need are coming to its shelter doors. There are bigger, blended families. The agency addresses this need with a full-time child therapist at Harbor House, children’s programming in shelter Life Enrichment Activities, mentoring from Foster Grandparents and donor and volunteer support.
The Mount at Catholic Charities is a collaboration with the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
WANT TO HELP?
Those who wish to help monetarily, by volunteering for children’s activities, or by donating items such as sheets and towels, small appliances, children’s crafts, and educational toys, may contact Amy Tully at giving@CatholicCharitiesWichita.org.