Magdalene Serenity House is fortunate to have a very active Board of Directors. In addition to raising funds and letting people know about our program, Board Members are involved in many of the day to day operations. At a recent meeting, the Board established the following committees:
- Mission Statement Task Force
- Property Management
- Speakers Bureau
The program at Magdalene Serenity House would not be possible without the generosity and commitment of our dedicated Board Members.
- Lowell Grisham – President
- Jane Gearhart – Vice President
- Anne O’Leary-Kelly – Secretary
- Haley Hixson – Treasurer
- Suzanne Stoner
- Stacey Park
- Rogelio Garcia-Contreras
- Jody Farrell
- Brenda Gullett
- Casey Jones
- Marsha Scott
- Mark Koch
- Amanda Rogers
Each morning at Magdalene Serenity House residents, staff, and volunteers meet for Morning Circle. After lighting the candle, the attending women, staff, and volunteers share a daily reflection and have an opportunity to make comments and discussion emotions. Transition is a frequent topic for reflection. One reference we have used is A Year without Fear (2015) by Tama Kieves. Ms. Kieves’ reflections often focus on transition. One recent reading:
In yoga, the slower you move, the stronger you become. It’s true of major transitions, too. If you don’t rush into things, you build heat and an inner relationship with yourself that can move through anything. The point of transition isn’t to get somewhere else, it’s to become someone else. (Kieves, 2015)
Everyone experiences transitions throughout life. Some transitions are positive: a new job, finishing a degree, or becoming a parent. Other transitions are more difficult: losing a job, losing a friend, losing freedom, or losing an important person. The residents at Magdalene Serenity House are in a constant state of transitioning. Those who were incarcerated are released. Some women have recently transitioned from being on parole or probation, while others are reuniting with children and transitioning to roles as mothers. Transitioning to a sober lifestyle is ever present. Those who have experienced trauma are transitioning from victims/survivors to advocates.
In a few months, some of the residents will be engaged in a major transition. They will have completed the two year program at Magdalene Serenity House and be living independently. For some, this will be a first time experience. Women who were admitted to the program following incarceration may not have had true independence for over three or four years. How does one prepare for this major life change?
Many of the interventions throughout the two years have been aimed at making this transition as stress-free as possible. Residents have had opportunities to learn techniques to reduce/manage stress, develop a budget, pay bills, decision-making, and problem solving. Residents possess strengths that will serve them well in living independently.
The committee that is responsible for examining how Magdalene Serenity House can facilitate community reintegration recognizes that not every resident will have the same needs and require the same level of support when they leave the program. We are in the process of evaluating those needs and determining the resources that program graduates should have available prior to and following completion of the program.
Graduates of Magdalene Serenity House are considered Sisters for Life. There is an expectation that graduates will maintain some form of contact with the program and serve as mentors and role models to residents. While two years seems like forever when residents first come through the doors, most will agree the time flies by.
- Our most recent resident who joined us on Halloween is moving from Phase One to Phase Two. She is submitting job applications and hopes to secure a position soon. Once she is employed, all eight residents will be in the workforce and saving money for when they graduate to independent living.
- Three of our residents have received pay raises at their current jobs due to outstanding work performance. We are so proud of their hard work and dedication to their employers.
- We had more children visit this month! One of our residents has a 10 year old girl and a 6 year old son. They had so much fun on their visit and look forward to coming back again. We received a generous donation of bikes for children to use on their visits. We just need Spring to hurry up and arrive so they can get out and hit the trail!
Resident Success Story
We asked one of our residents: “What is a time you felt accomplished at Magdalene?”
She replied: “Honestly, there’s not been just one time. It’s been the whole time. When you first get out of being incarcerated, there’s a lot of stuff stacked against you. Magdalene has given me an opportunity to not only stay clean and sober, but to get good employment and medical insurance. It has given me a chance to get my life back and to stand on my own two feet.”
For more resident success stories, follow us on Facebook and Instagram!
• Instagram: @magdaleneserenityhouse
• Facebook: @magdaleneserenityhouse
Please join us in congratulating Pam Burton as our February Volunteer Spotlight! She and her husband played a key part in the success of the Magdalene fundraiser earlier this month at the Ozark Mountain Smokehouse. Pam also provides multiple rides each month to our residents and is all around a wonderful support. She has this to say about herself and Magdalene:
“Three of our four children attended the U of A so we had long been fans of Fayetteville and Northwest Arkansas, making it the logical destination when Roger and I decided to relocate and downsize after retiring. Not long after we moved here and began attending St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, I joined a group of parishioners in creating a vision and planning for what became Magdalene Serenity House. It is a great joy to be able to continue my connection to Magdalene through volunteering.”
Giving to Magdalene allows individuals to play an active role in reuniting women with family and children, which aids in community betterment. The lasting imprint of Magdalene resident’s accomplishments combats current statistics of recidivism in Arkansas prison systems where 30% of those released reoffend in one year and 56% in three years, (Recidivism Study, 2013). Most of Magdalene’s current cohort have been with us for over a year, are gainfully employed, and are working toward release from parole or probation. Supporters of Magdalene give women the opportunity to enact change in their lives empowered by the belief in themselves and reinforced by a community of supporters. You can help us reflect the confidence we have in their ability to maintain the positive course of their lives through giving today. Interested in donating? Please email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.