“Caring for the Caretaker”

The MSH staff serve as guides on our residents’ journey, helping each woman navigate through the obstacles they face. Working with women who have experienced trauma, addiction, and incarceration is no easy task. We bear witness to painful stories of trauma, violence, and abuse. We comfort and support each resident as they overcome the many challenges women face post-incarceration. Engaging in this type of daily work takes a significant toll on our staff as we remain ready to handle any challenge or crisis thrown our way. Through it all, we are dedicated to our residents and committed to providing the holistic care and support they need to heal and recover. We are a small staff and it is important for us to be aware of how interfacing with trauma and oppression on a daily basis can impact our lives. With this in mind, one of our Board Members, Mark Koch, a Clinical Assistant Professor in Occupational Therapy at the University of Arkansas, offered to facilitate a bi-weekly book group with our staff on trauma stewardship.

Lauren van Dernoot Lipsky, the author of “Trauma Stewardship, An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others”, defines trauma stewardship as “a daily practice through which individuals, organizations, societies tend to the hardship, pain, or trauma experienced by humans, other living beings, or our planet itself”. Trauma stewardship calls on us as helping professionals to tackle suffering and oppression in an intentional way by caring for ourselves AND caring for others. “We honor the work by honoring ourselves”. As providers we must slow down in our work and stay curious about what is happening within ourselves when faced with difficult situations. Maintaining compassion for ourselves in this process is paramount and we must remain both open-hearted and open-minded as we navigate the work. At MSH, we continue to work toward implementing practices based on the book to support our staff including weekly team meetings to debrief and process the work, scheduled self-care hours for exercise, mental health/rest days as needed, and creating a culture that is supportive to each staff member as they navigate the difficulties of this work. We are a powerful staff and passionate about the work we do. Thus, it is essential for each of us to create daily practices to sustain us in the work. We are grateful to Mark for providing this group for our staff and know that as we implement these practices we will greatly enhance our capability to do the work needed to make a lasting difference in the lives of our residents.

Resident Achievements

  • We remain at full-capacity and our residents are doing well!
  • We have 6 residents in Phase Two of our program. This means they have been in our program at least 90 days and passed their portfolio review. They have worked hard in their recovery and are preparing to reenter the workforce.
  • Three of our residents started employment this month. We are thankful for local businesses for giving our residents a second chance. Any leads on employment opportunities for our residents? Email april@lovehealsnwa.org.
  • One of our residents became a grandma for the first time to a beautiful baby girl!
  • Heather, our second graduate, is settling in nicely in her home. Her 8-year old twins were able to visit and loved their new beds and rooms. Thank you to all of our donors and volunteers who helped Heather and her family get into their new home!

Are you following us on Instagram and Facebook? We post daily pictures and updates on what we are up to at Magdalene Serenity House. Give us a follow and share widely with your friends. We appreciate your support!

Resident Success Story

Community Partner Spotlight

Magdalene Serenity House relies heavily on support from our volunteers who help us meet the daily needs of our residents. In addition to individual volunteers, we also receive generous support from social and civic groups, businesses, and even a local theater. The Smokehouse Players have provided support to Magdalene in an innovative way by donating all proceeds from the opening night of their incredible productions! The Smoke House is owned by Frank Sharp and The Smoke House Players was formed by Tim Gilster and Terry Vaughn in 2017. The idea was to create an intimate theatrical experience performed in the Chillin’ Room of the old smokehouse.

We asked Tim and Terry why they chose to get involved with MSH:
“Frank did something kind for us by offering the opportunity to work at the Smokehouse so we wanted to do something kind in return. We knew we wanted to provide free theatre to the NWA community while benefiting a worthy organization – and something that helped women was our goal. I had worked with Amy Giezentanner (former ED at MSH) on a Prison Stories project and asked if she would like to meet and discuss our desire to help. We wanted to raise awareness by providing information about MSH in each program and having all donations received on the opening night of each new production go to Magdalene.”

Tim holds a BFA and Terry a BA and MA in Theater. They spent nearly 3 decades in New York City and were heavily involved in many Off Broadway productions before returning to Fayetteville in 2011. Magdalene Serenity House would like to thank Tim, Terry, and Frank for using their passion of theater and giving back to the community by supporting MSH

Mark your calendars! The next Smokehouse Players production will be “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” (performances May 7-9 2020) and will mark the 6th production at the Smokehouse.

T-Shirts are In!

  • A huge thank you to Custom Tees for helping us design a new t-shirt!
  • The t-shirts are $15.00 each.
  • The t-shirts are crew neck and unisex.
  • The fabric is a spandex and cotton blend.
  • The shirts have more cling than normal cotton.
  • We have sizes S-2XL.
  • Email ashley@lovehealsnwa.org to place an order today!

Current Needs

We are in need of several household cleaning, laundry, and feminine products. Check out our Amazon Wish List to purchase one of our high priority items. Questions? Contact ashley@lovehealsnwa.org.

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