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"Nothing will work unless you do." - Maya Angelou
Hard work is at the core of what we teach… not just in the literal sense of employment. At St. John's, we are keenly aware that we can never be working harder for a mother than she is working for herself. When this happens, we ask her to leave.
St. John's is a tough program. While we are teaching mothers how to work, we are also teaching them how to work on themselves… how to change unproductive thoughts and habits that they've often lived with for decades.
Imagine doing this in your own life… as a single mother of three children… while at the same time studying for your GED and participating in our 6 to 12 month "real world" employment training programs, Plates or First Steps. St. John's is clearly no place for the faint of heart.
The mothers who make it through, however, understand that nothing in their lives will work unless they do. Alicia, Lupe and Michelle, whose stories are included in this newsletter, understand this at their core. St. John's gave them the structure and the support they needed to gain control of, and begin to rebuild, their lives. They did the hard work, and they continue to do it.
St. John's believes that each mother who comes through the door is "capable of becoming a productive and contributing member of society" and is a "positive example" in the lives of their children… as long as she is willing to work.
This holiday season, please invest in families who are investing in themselves. You can purchase gifts for our enclosed holiday wish list, supporting us in providing Christmas to the 100 mothers and children residing in our shelter. You can adopt a family who recently graduated from St. John's, helping to provide Christmas for their family. You can make a monetary donation to support us in breaking the multi-generational cycle of poverty and homelessness by helping mothers to model achievement, success and independence to their children.
We cannot do any of this without you! I thank you in advance and wish you and yours a joy-filled holiday season!
Michele Steeb, Executive Director
Download our Holiday Wish List
Alicia P.: "I see this an an investment in me."
Alicia adjusts her sophisticated glasses and holds up a brightly-colored canvas. In the painting, a giant funnel cloud surrounds a series of dates, and a beautiful rose points skyward, reaching upward despite the storm. Alicia explains that the painting shows her "whirlwind downward" and her fight to bloom again, like the rose in the storm.
Married at just 15, Alicia has nine children. She struggled with bad relationships and issues with substance abuse for years until one day, Alicia said she "woke up and it was 30 years later." It was that moment when she realized that she needed to change… and to become self-sufficient. After calling St. John's Shelter off and on for several months, she was able to move in with her two youngest daughters. Alicia calls St. John's her last hope.
While Alicia admits that St. John's program is tough, she has risen to the challenges. She received her GED in the spring and works at Plates two days a week. As a reward for her efforts, Alicia has received new glasses and cosmetic dentistry, helping her to improve her self-esteem. She values the mental health classes and the time she gets to spend with her daughters.
Alicia has big plans for her future. She dreams of taking her little girl to Disneyland and getting her own apartment again. She remains committed to putting the same level of effort that it took to push her to the bottom to take her back to the top once again. "I see all of this as an investment in me," she said. "No matter how far into the hole that you dig yourself, there's always hope."
Lupe S.: "I have to get myself better first, so that I can take care of them."
With her friendly smile and happy demeanor, Lupe looks like any other restaurant employee finishing up her shift. But her outlook wasn't always so sunny. Once a gang member who struggled with alcohol and marijuana use, Lupe eventually met a man who introduced her to heroin, sending her life further into a tailspin. After several attempts at becoming clean, Lupe ended up living with her parents and two young children, continuing to look for a way out. When she heard about St. John's Shelter, she felt that she may have finally found a solution that would work for her.
Lupe volunteered to work at Plates just days after coming to St. John's and said the restaurant is the "best thing that has ever happened to her." Because of poor reading skills, Lupe worried that she couldn't do her job well, but quickly found it to be a place where she can thrive. Even after a setback with alcohol that requires her to attend Mercy rehabilitation sessions several days a week, Lupe fought to keep her position at Plates and credits the job with keeping her motivated. Lupe's parents recently came to see her at work, and they cried tears of joy after seeing her doing so well.
Lupe is currently working to earn her GED with the help of special programs to overcome her roadblocks with reading. She said that St. John's has allowed her to open herself to female friendships again after being hurt by other women in the past, and the classes on parenting have helped her to be a better mom. She's also learned that she can rely on herself, not a man, to support her and her children. Her kids remain her first priority. "I have to get myself better first, so that I can take care of them."
Michelle Scott.: "Don't give up before the miracle happens."
Michelle Scott is the picture of success. As the proud mother of four children and now a professional chef, she has a lot to be proud of… but it was just over a year ago that her life was on a dangerous and chaotic path. The one-time gang member with an addiction to drugs and men recalls the exact moment she made the decision to turn her life around. With her infant son and five-year-old daughter clinging to her arms, she was punched in the face by a boyfriend. This type of violent outburst wasn't new to Michelle, but for some reason it was finally the last straw. Michelle turned to family for refuge. Her mother, a St. John's alumna and sous-chef at Plates, encouraged her daughter to enter St. John's.
Michelle called St. John's every day for a month and a half. When she got word that a space was open, she said to herself, "Today is the day I start over!" Michelle took advantage of every resource and service offered – even the programs that didn't seem immediately relevant, like the Head Start program for her baby boy. At the time, her son was too young to need Head Start, but she listened to the information and put his name on the list anyway. As luck would have it, one year later she got a call asking if she was still interested in Head Start. There was an opening and her son had just turned two. At that time, she had just accepted a job at the Crocker Art Museum café and was worried about finding affordable daycare while she was at work. The timing was perfect, and her son began to thrive in the classes, learning his colors and ABCs while mom excelled in her career.
Today, Michelle is the head chef at St. John's, cooking four meals a day and serving up a lot of good advice for other women. She tells her peers, "Don't give up before the miracle happens. Even when it seems too overwhelming to handle, you just have to be patient and, I promise, good things will come."
Employment Training, All about Results…
St. John's "real world" employment training programs include Plates Café & Catering and First Steps Child Development Center. These businesses play a critical role in providing valuable employment skills that assist mothers in gaining employment and, more importantly, in maintaining employment. Located in Depot Park, Plates and First Steps are fundamental components of our mission to support homeless families in becoming self-sustaining.
Our results are staggering! To date, we have placed 93% of our employment-training graduates in employment. Thank you to our growing list of employment partners, including: Dad's Kitchen, Amber House Bed and Breakfast Inn, Woodmack Products, Formoli's Bistro, KRU Restaurant, Pork Belly Grub Shack, Goodwill Industries, Moorpak Luxury Perfumes, Mulvaney's B & L, Asante Catering, Wittman Enterprises, Sacramento Kings, Supper Club… and last but not least, both Plates and First Steps have also hired graduates!
Please contact Kathleen Foley at email@example.com, or at 916-769-4958, if your organization is interested in becoming one of our valued employment partners.
Career Education and Placement News
Our goal in the Career Education and Placement Center is to inspire, encourage and educate our mothers. Our mission is centered on education, employment and empowerment.
For most, it begins with enrollment in our GED Program. For others, it begins with the development of soft skills that are required to become employable, then the subsequent implementation of those skills at Plates or at First Steps. Recent successes include:
Congratulations to three mothers who have recently attained their GEDs: Angela G., Dana O., and Jasmine P. Over the past two years, with the financial support of State Street Bank, and the dedication of our tireless volunteers, over 30 women have successfully earned their GEDs through our GED Preparation Program. Thus far, six of those graduates have gone on to become graduates of our Plates Vocational Training program and are now employed! The combination of education and employment training is key to these mothers' success.
University of Phoenix
We would like to recognize and thank the University of Phoenix for their $2,500 grant to assist with the development of our curriculum for our Vocational Training Programs. A very special thank you to Jo Hoffmeier, retired Vice President of the University of Phoenix, for her dedication to this program and for the many hours she spent developing our Vocational Training manual!
Creative Ways to Support St. John's
Here's One Way to Celebrate Your 25th Wedding Anniversary…
St. John's appreciates all of our investors. With less than 30% of our funding now coming from government, we can't do this work without you! We wanted to share a story about a couple who were particularly creative in their giving… Ron and Sue Dwyer Voss. Ron and Sue celebrated their 25th Anniversary with a party, asking friends to add to the quarter collection they had accumulated over the past 25 years. Their friends added 567 quarters to the 365 they had already amassed! They sent a check for $214.75 to St. John's! Thank you to Ron and Sue for your continued support and your creativity!
Giving Back while Earning a Black Belt in Karate...
Dean Cwynar, son of Board member Rick Cwynar, selected St. John's as the focus of the community service aspect of getting his black belt. As a result, he presented us with a $100 contribution and a collection of donated items including diapers and baby wipes for our little ones! Dean is only six years old! We are so impressed by, and so grateful for, what he was able to achieve!
If you are interested in hosting a collection drive to benefit St. John's, please contact Sara Amin, our Volunteer Coordinator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 916-453-1482 ext. 15. We especially need: diapers, baby wipes, baby bottles, gently used clothing for women and children / teens and, of course, holiday wish list gifts!
Donate Your Car to Support a Newly-Employed Mother
If you have a vehicle that you are thinking of trading in or selling, please consider donating it to a St. John's graduate who is on her way to self-sufficiency. Your donation is tax deductible, and the process is easy. Please contact Eanad Lott at 916-453-1482 or at email@example.com.
'Tis the Season for Families, Help Santa bring a special joy for all!
St. John's offers a variety of opportunities to support homeless families this holiday season! Our enclosed holiday wish list is a guide to providing Christmas for the 100 mothers and children currently residing in the shelter. You can also adopt-a-family who has moved into our housing program while she completes her employment training. And/or, you can volunteer to wrap presents, assist Santa, and help prepare a meal!
We will be providing Christmas to more than 250 mothers and children this season! If you would like to participate, or would like to discuss other ideas, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Sara Amin, at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 916-453-1482 ext. 15.
PIA Golf Tournament
Proceeds from the annual golf tournament of the Prison Industry Authority of California benefited St. John's for the 2nd year in a row... only this year, they netted more than double what they raised last year -- $6,689! Thank you very much to PIA and its sponsors for helping us continue our mission to help homeless families move from dependence to independence!
The Gift of Agnes…
We are honored to have the presence of Agnes Kwenda, a Community Solutions Leader from IREX, an international nonprofit organization providing thought leadership and innovative programs to promote positive lasting change globally. Agnes arrived in September to support St. John's in its mission and, at the same time, to learn from what we are doing.
Agnes is the Founder and current Executive Director of Precious Life Foundation, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe. With two locations, including a drop-in center in the city and a farm located 25 km outside of Bulawayo, Precious Life Foundation provides vocational training, community integration and housing for vulnerable women and teenage mothers. Their mission is to help them become self-sufficient.
Agnes has been a member of the Rotary Club of Bulawayo since 2006, heading the youth and community services committees for four years, prior to being nominated President-elect for 2013.
Agnes' perspective and presence has been a gift to our staff, and especially to our clients. We will miss her when she returns home in December.
For more information on the Precious Life Foundation, please visit www.preciouslifefoundation.com or her Facebook page "Precious Life Foundation."
A big thank you to the following companies and organizations for their generous grants received to date this year:
Blue Diamond $5,000
Evangelical Lutheran Church of America $2,500
Fair Oaks Bocci Boys $6,000
Kaiser Permanente Community Benefit Grant $20,000
Kelly Foundation $10,000
Lillian Mendez-Soto Philanthropy Fund $1,000
May & Stanley Smith Charitable Trust $30,000
Nationwide Insurance Foundation $15,000
Optimist Club $7,000
Pepsi Bottling Group $1,000
Pfund Family Foundation $5,000
PG&E - submitted by Cynthia McDonal, PG&E Employee $1,000
Rotary Club of South Sacramento $500
Sacramento Region Community Foundation $5,895
Sacramento Kings Community Foundation $5,000
Sierra Health Foundation $25,000
Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society Alliance $5,000
Silicon Valley Community Foundation $500
Soroptimist Int'l $500
State Street $9,000
Teichert Foundation $7,500
The McClatchy Company $15,000
Union Pacific $7,000
Wal-mart Foundation State Giving Program $25,000
Yocha Dehe Community Fund $110,000
St. John's Shelter for Women and Children
2443 Fair Oaks Blvd. #369
Sacramento, CA 95825-7684
Ph. 916-453-1482 Fax 916-453-1425
Board of Directors
Chet Hewitt, President, Sierra Health Foundation
John Crisan, Treasurer, Consultant
Andrea Anderson, Surewest Communications
David Cloninger, Merill Lynch
Glenda Corcoran, Attorney
Rick Cywyar, Wells Fargo Bank
Connie Sanders Emerson, Fundraiser
Pete Halimi, Fite Development Corporation
Wendy Lauchland, Fundraiser
Kathy McKim, AT&T