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Many women served by Magdalene Serenity House have endured adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) as well as intimate partner violence. The impact of these events results in lasting adverse health outcomes: suicide, substance use, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).  Because the impact of trauma is so wide spread, providers are being trained to assess and screen for trauma as part of routine care. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association (SAMHSA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, describes trauma-informed care as “the adoption of principles and practices, as well as organizational culture change, that promotes a culture of safety, empowerment, and healing.”

Too often, people who have experienced trauma may present with behavioral health issues that result in service providers (and others) asking, “What is wrong with this person?” Professionals in trauma suggest a more appropriate question would be to ask, “What has happened to this person?”

MSH recognizes the need to provide trauma-informed care by creating an environment to assure safety, acceptance, and healing for women who have experienced trauma. In order to promote a feeling of security the residence has an alarm system and residents have to sign in and out every time they leave indicating where they are going and when they will return. A staff person is on call twenty four hours a day. Volunteers and staff accompany residents for appointments. While male volunteers are welcomed at MSH, they are not involved in transporting residents. New residents are provided a phone for emergency use and internal communication. Once residents begin working, they can purchase a phone.

Additional precautions to maintain safety include not identifying the residence when answering the phone and women are instructed to not share the address of the residence with others. Many of the residents have anxiety as a result of trauma. Some residents have difficulty going to large stores and attending crowded places of worship. Staff are mindful of the size of recovery meetings and shopping  so that residents are not overwhelmed by large numbers of people. All visitors meet with staff before they are allowed unsupervised visitation.

Residents who are healing from trauma have access to individual and group counseling through several resources: Community Clinic, Ozark Guidance Center, and NWA Center for Sexual Assault.  Other providers (dental and medical) are sensitive to the needs of residents who have experienced trauma in an attempt to avoid re-traumatization. The Western Massachusetts Training Consortium developed a pamphlet for medical and dental providers describing that people who have experienced trauma may have intense anxiety and fear about visiting providers. While many people may feel anxious about these visits, people who have been traumatized may have flashbacks to memories of pain by authority figures.

Sisters for Life

We have a lot to celebrate this month. Our first resident is getting ready to graduate from our program. We are incredibly proud of everything she has accomplished during her time at MSH. She works full-time at Lifestyles teaching art and life skills to adults with disabilities. She is also active and holds a leadership role in the 12-Step community. She has been a mentor and inspiration to new MSH residents and co-facilitates groups with our Program Team. We are thrilled that she will remain in the Fayetteville community and parent her 11-year-old son full-time.

Did you know that when residents graduate they become a Sister for Life? Sisters for Life are Magdalene graduates who remain actively involved in the MSH community and intentionally seek out ways to further the mission of MSH by giving back to other residents. Sisters for Life can continue to reach out to staff for guidance and support as they reintegrate into the community.

We are always on the lookout for safe and affordable housing for our residents to transition into when they graduate from MSH. Please reach out to Liz@lovehealsnwa.org if you have any housing ideas or know of any landlords willing to work with us!

Intern Graduation

This year we have had the pleasure of having four outstanding interns at MSH. We had two masters of social work interns (Jessica & Ashley), one marketing intern (Madeline), and one PhD counseling intern (Julia). We truly could not do this work without our interns and all of the creativity and talent they bring to MSH. Jessica, Ashley, and Madeline will graduate this May with their respective degrees!

Jessica will be moving to Houston to pursue a social work position. We know she will be such an asset to the agency that is lucky enough to hire her! Ashley will be staying at MSH and start full-time as our Development Coordinator. Ashley has been with MSH since we opened and we are thrilled that she will be able to stay on and help us grow in development and fundraising. Madeline has accepted a position at General Mills. She has been instrumental in helping us with our social media and marketing materials. Julia will continue to pursue her PhD and hopes to run group for us as long as she can. She has been a wonderful addition to our team and has provided countless hours of individual and group therapy to our residents. It truly takes a dedicated community to help our residents rebuild their lives and we are grateful to continue to have such bright and compassionate interns at MSH.

Resident Accomplishments

  • One our newer residents has accepted a full-time job. She plans to pursue additional training to move up in her company.
  • One of our residents was accepted in college! She plans to attend college in the fall and pursue a degree in Social Work.
  • One of our residents spoke at a community forum on Civil Rights and Mass Incarceration in Arkansas.
  • One of our residents got off probation and has the opportunity to get her record sealed.

Volunteer Spotlight

Many of our volunteers graciously offer their artistry, knowledge, and skills to Magdalene Serenity House. We place heavy emphasis on our volunteers because without them, our program would not See the success it has thus far. This month our Volunteer Spotlight is Garth West!  Garth shares a bit about himself and his motivation for volunteering with MSH:

After working and living in Colorado for several years,  Garth moved back to Arkansas to continue his education at the U of A with the goal of getting his doctorate in physical therapy. He hopes to help people recover from disease and life-altering accidents after his education is complete. Garth is the son of one of the founders of Magdalene Serenity House and has always felt the deepest respect for the women working to rediscover themselves and take their lives back after being dealt such hardships. He started volunteering at MSH in the Fall of 2018 and has greatly appreciated the sense of acceptance that he has felt. This has allowed him to offer his help with maintenance and grounds-keeping in the hopes of alleviating the financial stress of the organization and the women living there. In doing so he has gained a sense of community. Garth has also found a new and profound sense of pride in his hometown of Fayetteville, Arkansas for its making a place like MSH possible.

“It has been extremely rewarding to me to know that I can be called on to help out while these courageous women are working on rebuilding their lives. Magdalene Serenity House is a testament to the power of love and to the city of Fayetteville’s capacity to take care of her own. My heart swells with pride and I am honored to be connected in any way to such an amazing program.”

New Donor Management System

We formed a new partnership with Pure Charity to mange fundraising, giving accounts, receipting, grant distribution, and all donor related tasks. They are an incredible organization and we will use their technology to help us save time and money and streamline our donor management process. New and existing donors can create an account here. Questions about our new donor system? Email ashley@lovehealsnwa.org.

Current Needs

We are always in need of toilet paper, laundry detergent, and Clorox wipes. We provide all of these items to our residents at no charge. If you are interested in donating these items or coordinating a donation drive please contact our Development Coordinator at ashley@lovehealsnwa.org.

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