In Kind Donations for Our New Building

We have been blessed with many generous donations and we are enjoying all of these wonderful items in our new space,  but we are still seeking a few specific items. In order to best serve our clients, our team has compiled a list of everything that’s needed to make all types of programming possible in our new building.

Amazon Wishlist

Want to help outfit the new space?  We’ve created an Amazon Wish List so you can provide the finishing touches on the building!  Shop today and your gifts will be sent right to the Center.  Please be sure to use Amazon Smile on any of your Amazon purchases and select CMC as your charity.  A portion of sales will help make Eastern Iowa a welcoming place!

Amazon Smile

Did you know that Amazon will donate 0.5% of your purchase to your favorite nonprofit organization?  Anytime you shop on Amazon, follow these instructions to help your purchase go further:

If you’ve never registered with AmazonSmile:
1. Visit smile.amazon.com
2. Click Get Started
3. Search for “Catherine McAuley Center”
4. Please be sure to select the one in Cedar Rapids, IA!

To change your charity:
1. Visit smile.amazon.com
2. Under the search bar is where you can see what charity you are supporting.  Click the down arrow to change.

3. Search for “Catherine McAuley Center”
4. Please be sure to select the one in Cedar Rapids, IA!

Make sure you place orders through smile.amazon.com so that purchases are credited towards your selected charity!

Menards Rebates

Do you have Menards rebates laying around?  You can donate those as well to provide more necessities for our new Center!  Rebates can be mailed to 1220 5th Ave SE.

Thank you for anything that you feel compelled to give, and for your continued support of the Catherine McAuley Center. We look forward to sharing our new space with you!

Additional COVID-19 Resources for Refugees and Immigrants

As we continue to adapt to the COVID-19 situation, the Catherine McAuley Center is working to expand communication and resources to our clients and community. Immigrants and refugees are often disproportionately affected in times of crisis, which is why we have been taking additional measures within our food pantry and Refugee and Immigrant Services program. 

Food Boxes

In an effort to encourage our clients to stay at home and continue social distancing, our food pantry is currently delivering supplementary food boxes. Local food pantries do great work in our community, but are not always able to provide culturally appropriate foods to immigrants and refugees. These supplemental boxes supply familiar and culturally-appropriate foods, decreasing the need for clients to leave their homes to shop.

This delivery service is entirely contactless in order to ensure the safety and comfort of both our clients and volunteers.  Volunteering takes place from 10 am – 12 pm on weekdays.  Please contact Katie at volunteer@cmc-cr.org if you are interested in volunteering with this service.

Call Center 

Our Refugee and Immigrant Services department is also expanding their Resource Navigation and Support services in order to serve individuals who speak limited English in Cedar Rapids and Linn County. For many refugees and immigrants, especially those who have settled in the United States recently, unemployment and stimulus benefits are not always readily available. 

Anyone needing assistance can call the Center at 319-731-0445 to be connected with a case manager and an interpreter who can address questions and concerns in their native language. CMC is also able to support community organizations who need assistance to help limited English speakers access their services. We are committed to meeting the needs of our clients and community, and we will continue to provide updates as we adapt our services.

Volunteer Appreciation: Susan

In honor of National Volunteer Week – and to shed a little light in the midst of all the uncertainty – we’re excited to share our April volunteer spotlight, Susan! Susan has been a volunteering at CMC for several years, and has also been one of the first to start teaching remotely while the Center is closed. 

After moving from the Quad Cities to Cedar Rapids, Susan was looking to get involved and find new places to serve her community. 

“Some good friends invited me to go to a training session with them as they knew, like them, I was trying to find some places to plug in and serve after my move.”

There were several things that drew Susan to the Catherine McAuley Center after her initial introduction, including her faith, background in education, and the free time that comes along with having an empty house. 

“The things that drew me here are the opportunity to use my education background, and my heart for and interest in immigrants. Things that make it easy to do now are that I no longer have kids at home to care for and no longer “have” to work for pay to help provide braces, or help with college tuition and books. It’s a joy to help others and give back!”

As a long term tutor, Susan has established many relationships and reasons to keep coming back to the Center, even beyond what initially caught her attention. In regards to what has kept her invested over the years, Susan said “The satisfaction and joy of developing relationships with my students and seeing them progress, and the supportive and encouraging people involved with tutoring through CMC and St. Jude’s.”

“The biggest highlight is getting to know my students and hear their stories. It has often been amazing to hear what they have been through and what they still face now.  It’s also increased my appreciation of my own Norwegian immigrant relatives and what they went through coming to a brand new land, language and culture not that many generations ago.”

Susan has also been one of the first tutors to start volunteering online since the Center has been closed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Despite being self described as “not techy”, she has met with both of her usual students, with one of them logging on for up to three lessons a week. 

“Other than the harsh reality check of seeing myself on ‘camera’, it’s worked really well! I picked up books at the office by coordinating with Claire. For tests, she’s sent me links that I’ve sent to my student while I ‘proctored’ on video at the same time for test integrity. The more frequent lessons seem to be really helping and she’s on the brink of starting the next book, which I dropped off for her just today!  Even though different, I think it’s been a good experience for both of us.”

When asked about whether or not she plans to keep tutoring remotely for the extent of social distancing, Susan had no doubts. 

“Absolutely!  I left the door open with one student to just let me know a day and time that works for her when she’s ready again. My other student has been very eager and hard working. Inspired by her example, her fiance requested help finding someone to tutor via technology, so he’s off and running, too! I’m thankful for the accelerated learning the current system provides for her and happy to be part of her journey.”

 

Q & A with Peggy Rubero

Back in the fall of 2019, we welcomed Peggy Rubero to the Catherine McAuley Center team as our Community Partnerships and Grants Manager. Peggy had previously worked for Pearson, a global education company, for 11 years prior to accepting a job with us. Here are a few questions to get to know Peggy and what this brand new position means for CMC.

Can you briefly discuss your background and how you ended up at CMC?

“I worked for Pearson, and their mission is focused on helping people improve their lives through learning. They do lots of textbook publishing, but also have programs in schools to help children learn. They do this around the world, so even though North America was probably our biggest revenue driver, there was such a need for learning and education in countries that are outside of what we do. They had a really big heart, centered around the question of ‘How do we help people who really need learning and education?’ I loved their mission, but I was also volunteering here at Catherine McAuley. Due to their work with education and helping people make their lives better, especially with the immigrant and refugee community, I saw them as very similar. It was really cool because when I had the opportunity to come here I told my boss ‘I can do what Pearson tries to do on a global level but I can do it locally’, with the addition of knowing that we also had education, immigrants and refugees, and women who were homeless that we were supporting and helping them regain their lives. So when this opportunity came up I said yes to it because I felt like it was not leaving the mission of Pearson in a way, but it was doing something locally. I felt like I was doing something that was closer to helping the community.”

What exactly does this position involve?

“The grants side is easier (to explain) because it’s something that all nonprofits have to do – you do grant writing, and you look for funding sources and companies that are aligned to our mission. Grant writing is a really critical piece because it helps us with a lot of the funding that we need, and some of the grants that are less restrictive allow us to help in ways that some grants and some sources won’t help you. It involves working with the existing granting agencies that we’ve had in the past and trying to grow our relationships there, but also connecting what we’re trying to do strategically and looking for grants and funding sources that will allow us to grow in support and the way that we see. There are things that we may have been doing five years ago that we don’t do in the same way today, so we need other funding sources to help us grow the programs beyond what they looked like a few years ago. Sometimes it’s making sure that sources are still aligned to what we’re doing, and then looking at new opportunities and new granting agencies that we haven’t used before. There’s a fair amount of prospecting that you do as well.”

Which community partnerships have gotten off the ground, and are there any organizations that you hope to get involved with?

“Community partnerships is really working with other agencies that are also working with our clients, and figuring out how we work together to streamline services and get them the support they need – how we coordinate so we’re not stepping on each other, how we make sure we’re clear on how we are helping them together. We work with many agencies through United Way, Eastern Iowa Healthcare, the Abbe Center, and all sorts of places that are trying to do the same thing for our collective clients. 

At Raining Rose, for example, some of our clients that are coming to us through immigration and refugee services, or through our adult education services, are employed there. We bring ESL classes onsite for them, and that’s really cool because it’s helping the employee – who is an immigrant that we’re working with in different capacities here – have a secure job that they can grow in. At the same time it does something for the employee base, because now they’re working with more diversity. Having access to people from other parts of the world changes the way we think, it changes what we do sometimes – in a really good way. People may not have an opportunity to work with somebody from Tanzania, or someone from El Salvador, and you can learn from them and they’re learning from us. That partnership started before I came on board so I can’t say ‘Guess what I started!’ but there was a need, and there was a realization that having classes on site there would be good. We’ve been doing that since last fall. 

I’ve also met with Mercy Medical Center. Sarah Blakeney (CMC’s Employment Services Coordinator) works on employment support, and Mercy Hospital is one place that we’re trying to help. They need employees to help them with some of their services, and we have people that are qualified and looking for jobs. That’s really exciting, because you’re helping immigrants, you’re helping the hospital or the business, and you’re helping the employees. You’re helping them understand how we’re trying to be welcoming to people from anywhere, and now they develop relationships with people that they possibly wouldn’t otherwise. I think it is a lot of mutual benefit. I also think there are barriers – we have to acknowledge that there are language barriers, there are cultural barriers, and a way that you break down some of those barriers is by working together. We still have a lot of work to do but it’s the right thing, and it aligns also with what the city of Cedar Rapids is trying to do with this Gateways for Growth project that they took on a year and a half ago. It’s all around ‘How do we make this a more welcoming place?’ Immigrants contribute an extensive amount to the community. Some of it’s very tangible, some of it’s intangible, but it’s all really important. 

I think it’s important to say ‘Let me tell you about the people that are coming here, let me tell you about these barriers,’ but let me statistically tell you a few things that you wouldn’t know. You can tell a compelling story through a narrative, and have numbers that are embedded in that narrative. It all leads to ‘This is why we like having this diverse community.’”

Learning Together: Books & Movies for Social Distancing

Some of our staff and community members have provided recommendations for books, movies, documentaries, podcasts, and learning resources for our community members to learn from and enjoy while we’re away from the Center. Many of these resources provide insight into topics related to the Catherine McAuley Center mission, including (but not limited to): the refugee/immigrant experience, women’s equality and empowerment, language, and diversity.

Even though we’re social distancing, we can still be social! Share photos of yourself taking advantage of these resources (think cozy book nooks, family movie nights, etc.) and insights into what you learn using #LearningTogetherCMC! Be sure to tag the Catherine McAuley Center on Facebook and Twitter.

Please note: These were submitted by members of the CMC community. CMC does not endorse any particular point of view shared in these resources. Viewer discretion is advised in some cases- please view synopsis at links provided before viewing/reading.

Books (non-fiction)

  • We, the Interwoven: An Anthology of Bicultural Iowa – Vol. 1 and 2 Goodreads 
  • The Vagina Monologues by Eve Ensler – Goodreads
  • The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down by Anne Fadiman – Goodreads
  • A Hope More Powerful Than the Sea: One Refugee’s Incredible Story of Love, Loss, and Survival by Melissa Fleming – Goodreads
  • Essential Linguistics: What Teachers Need to Know to Teach ESL, Reading, Spelling, and Grammar by David and Yvonne FreemanGoodreads
  • Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism by Bell Hooks – Goodreads
  • Asylum Denied: A Refugee’s Struggle for Safety in America by David Ngaruri Kenney, Philip G. Schrag – Goodreads
  • The Genius of Language: Fifteen Writers Reflect on Their Mother Tongue by Wendy Lesser Goodreads
  • Enrique’s Journey by Sonia Nazario – Goodreads 
  • The Middle of Everywhere: Helping Refugees Enter the American Community by Mary Pipher, Susan Cohen – Goodreads
  • Tender Courage: A Reflection on the Life and Spirit of Catherine McAuley, First Sister of Mercy by M. Joana Regan – Goodreads
  • Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions by Gloria Steinem – Goodreads
  • Love Thy Neighbor by Ayaz Verji – Goodreads
  • A Century of Votes for Women: American Elections Since Suffrage by Christina Wolbrecht – Goodreads
  • Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain by Maryanne Wolf – Goodreads
  • The Late Homecomer by Kao Kalia Yang – Goodreads
  • A People’s History of the United States by Howard Zinn – Goodreads, https://www.zinnedproject.org/

Books (fiction)

  • A Land of Permanent Goodbyes by Atia Abawi – Goodreads
  • Sea Prayer by Khalid Hosseini – Goodreads
  • Esa Khattak and Rachel Getty series (The Unquiet Dead, The Language of Secrets, A Death in Sarajevo, Among the Ruins, A Dangerous Crossing, A Deadly Divide) by Ausma Zehanat Khan – Goodreads
  • The Yellow Wall-Paper by Charlotte Perkins-Gilman – Goodreads
  • Season of Migration to the North, by Al-Tayyib Salih – Goodreads

Books for kids

  • My Name is Not Refugee by Kate Milner – Goodreads
  • Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers, and Rebels by Linda Skeers and Livi Gosling – Goodreads (a Hiawatha author!)

Podcasts and TED Talks

Things to watch

  • Amelia – IMDB
  • First They Killed My Father IMDB
  • The Good Lie IMDB
  • God Grew Tired of Us IMDB
  • The Gods Must Be Crazy IMDB
  • HarrietIMDB
  • Hidden FiguresIMDB
  • In The Land of Blood and Honey – IMDB
  • Iron Jawed AngelsIMDB
  • On the Basis of SexIMDB
  • The Visitor IMDB

Online learning resources

  • News for You Online is an online newspaper for English learners. You can read and listen to many different articles to build your English vocabulary and reading skills.

https://www.newreaderspress.com/news-for-you-online 

password: 18B018

  • NewsELA is another news website for English learners. Log in and click “Your Assignments” for articles you can study if you are preparing to be a U.S. citizen!

https://newsela.com/ 

username: education@cmc-cr.org
password: abc#0444

  • Side by Side eText is an online version of your Side by Side textbook.  There are some extra games in the Fun Zone after each chapter.  You can make your own account (follow the directions inside the cover of your textbook) or use CMC’s login information.

https://sso.rumba.pearsoncmg.com/sso/login?&k12int=true&service=http://rumba.bookshelf.ebookplus.pearsoncmg.com/ebook/linktoebook16.do

username: cmc-cr
password: abc#0444


We’re all looking for connection in this time of social distancing. To help the adult learners, women healing from trauma, immigrants, and refugees who find hope at the Catherine McAuley Center, please consider setting up a monthly gift. Your support helps us find innovative ways to keep our neighbors connected today and into the future.

Give button

Giving supports refugee resettlement and support

Dear Friends,

As a friend of the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC), you know that our refugee and immigrant neighbors are finding valuable connections at CMC. But did you know that last year, 260 refugees made Eastern Iowa their home with the Center’s help? These neighbors who have experienced untold violence in their lives now have housing, medical care, education, and employment right here in our community.

While this is something to celebrate, recent federal changes and executive orders threaten the ability of some of our newest neighbors to reunite with family members who are still living abroad in refugee camps.

  • A recent executive order allowing states and municipalities to opt out of resettlement continues to create a culture of mistrust and can send a message that refugees are not welcome in our communities.
  • No more than 18,000 refugees will be admitted to the U.S. this year, down from 110,000 in 2017. This is an all-time low in the history of refugee resettlement in the U.S.
  • A week-by-week moratorium on all refugee resettlement in late 2019 meant CMC went without resettlement revenue for nearly three months.
  • The recent expansion of the 2017 travel ban restricts immigrant visas for individuals from six additional countries, preventing some clients at CMC from reuniting with their families.

Mother and child reunited

In the face of this unpredictability and uncertainty, individual giving is more important than ever. Will you take a stand for the dignity of our neighbors, here and abroad, and give?

While changes to the U.S. Refugee Resettlement Program are out of our control, you can bolster the educational and supportive services available to all CMC clients—refugees, immigrants, adult learners, and women experiencing crisis. Together, we can work together for an inclusive community in these volatile times.

With hope,

Give button

Paula Land signature

Paula Land
Executive Director

P.S.  Setting up a monthly gift offers hope and opportunity to our neighbors all year long.

Coronavirus Preparedness: Keeping CMC Healthy

CoronavirusAs the coronavirus continues to spread, CMC asks all clients, volunteers, and staff to take reasonable precaution to prevent further spread of the virus. By taking the following proactive steps, we ensure that volunteers, staff, adult learners, women healing from crisis, immigrants, and refugees can stay healthy and continue working together for an inclusive community!

March 23, 2020 update: All volunteers are encouraged to stay home to remain safe and healthy. Clients wishing to meet with staff are asked to call ahead and schedule an appointment. In-kind donations are limited to non-perishable food items and sanitizing supplies until further notice.

March 16, 2020 update: The Catherine McAuley Center Education Program has suspended all classes. Classes will resume Monday, April 13.

Symptoms of COVID-19

May be characterized by mild or severe fever, cough, shortness of breath, sore throat, or runny nose. Symptoms may appear 2-14 days after exposure.

Guidelines for volunteers, clients and visitors

  • If you have symptoms of acute respiratory illness, please do not come to CMC until you are free of fever (100.4° F [37.8° C] or greater using an oral thermometer), signs of a fever, and any other symptoms for at least 24 hours, without the use of fever-reducing or other symptom-altering medicines like cough suppressants.
  • Volunteers and clients who are ill will be sent home.
  • CMC advises all who are sick to stay home, avoid public areas, limit contact from others (and pets), and seek medical advice.
  • If you have a sick family member at home or have been in contact with someone with COVID-19, please do not come to CMC until consulting your physician for advice on precautionary measures.
  • Those at higher risk for adverse health complications should use their best judgement about staying home until the threat of COVID-19 passes.
  • Please contact CMC staff if you are unsure about what to do or if you will not be coming in during your scheduled time.

Recommended Hygiene Practices

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover nose and mouth with a tissue when coughing or sneezing (or an elbow or shoulder if no tissue is available). Throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a disinfecting spray or wipe.
    • Avoid sharing personal household items
    • Shaking hands is discouraged and can easily be replaced with a smile (but smiles are also contagious!)
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks are recommended if you are sick and MUST be around others.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.

Additional Preventative Measures at CMC

  • A sign will be posted at the CMC entrance asking those who are sick not to enter.
  • Off-site classes will continue. Staff will equip these locations with sanitation products.
  • Treats will no longer be served in the lobby.
  • Staff will be disinfecting tables, door knobs, and other surfaces several times daily.

Thank you for helping us keep all clients, volunteers, staff, and visitors at CMC safe and healthy!

Volunteer Appreciation: Rose Mary

Through all stages of life, the conventional wisdom is to make a plan and follow it carefully. Whether it be college, a career, a big move, even a vacation – take calculated steps to get there. While this is usually very sound advice, in some cases not having a plan can end up leading you to the right place. This was the case for Rose Mary, a long time CMC volunteer that has been involved at the Center since 2008. 

“They always said ‘Before you’re retired you should be sure you know what you want to do,’” Rose Mary said, “Well I retired and I didn’t know what I wanted to do!” 

After retiring from Rockwell Collins and trying to find a way to fill her days, Rose Mary took a chance on a program that pointed retirees towards volunteer opportunities, and she eventually decided on the Catherine McAuley Center. Rose Mary has volunteered all over the Center since she first started, helping out with things such as filing, stuffing letters, preparing our event invitations for mailing, and managing CMC’s scrapbooks that are viewed at our Annual Celebration. Some of her jobs, like preparing tea bags, are a testament to how long she’s been helping out. 

“I started as a tea lady, did you know they used to sell a lot of tea?” she asked, before discussing some of the highlights from her first years at CMC.

“It was a whole group of us around the table in the sunroom. We had to tear these little bags apart and put a teaspoon of tea in there and iron them shut. I did that for a couple years, and that was fun because we always said ‘Whatever’s said in the tea room stays in the tea room!’”

Rose Mary has seen plenty of change during her years at the Center, most notably the increasing amount of people and the decreasing amount of free space as we approach the long-awaited move into a larger building. 

“We just keep getting more and more people!” she said as we discussed the move this summer, “The basement used to just be the basement, but they had to fix that up to make room for more people, so it just keeps growing.”

Besides the ever-growing need for space, one of the most common talking points about the Catherine McAuley Center is the feeling of welcome when you step inside. There are friendly faces around every corner, which plays a large role in keeping volunteers like Rose Mary coming back for so many years. 

“Everyone always says thank you. I feel like I put smiles on people’s faces. That’s what’s kept me coming back– the people. I don’t remember ever leaving in a bad mood, I’ve always felt better.”

English Classes with Raining Rose

Raining Rose facilityIn October 2019, CMC was offered a unique opportunity to partner with Raining Rose and expand our education services outside of the Center. Raining Rose is a manufacturer of personal care products based in Cedar Rapids, as well as a consistent employer of immigrants and refugees, some of whom have settled in the area through CMC’s services. Due to language barriers in the workplace, Raining Rose reached out about a partnership that would involve on-site English classes for their employees – a need CMC is uniquely equipped to meet! 

Angie Miller, our Tutor Student Liaison, has been teaching at Raining Rose since the beginning of the program in October. She teaches classes on site on Mondays and Wednesdays at 2 and 3 p.m. to accommodate both first and second shift workers. This is one of the many advantages of this partnership – it offers even more flexibility for students to coordinate classes around their busy work schedules.

Angie Miller

Tutor Student Liaison, Angie Miller, shares a sample of one of her lessons for students

There are plenty of familiar faces, between employees who have previously used CMC’s Refugee & Immigrant Services and others who have sought out additional English lessons at the Center or one of our satellite locations. Angie says that building relationships with her students and other employees has been one of the most notable highlights, along with the opportunity to get consistent teaching experience.

Unlike the one-on-one tutoring sessions offered at the Center, Angie’s classes can include up to ten students at a time. The results have been just as noticeable, however, even though classes have only been taking place for a few months. Angie says that she has been approached by multiple Raining Rose employees who have noticed an increase in clear, confident communication from her students. 

Raining Rose has been the Center’s first partnership like this, and will hopefully be the first of many. Language barriers can be a common obstacle for immigrants and refugees as they look for employment, but there are always solutions to be found. CMC will be looking for more partnership and outreach opportunities, as well as looking forward to continuing our work with Raining Rose.

Safety and Security in Women’s Services

Women’s Services at the Catherine McAuley Center (CMC) provide shelter, intensive case management, and skill-building opportunities to help women who have experienced trauma achieve and maintain stable housing, relationships, and finances.

When a woman begins participating in Women’s Services at CMC, she is welcomed into a room of her own. She’ll see her bed made with a handmade quilt handcrafted by a caring volunteer, and a basket of toiletries and food waiting for her. Perhaps most importantly, she’s given a key. 

“Having my own space with a locked door makes me feel safe. I came from a shelter where I shared a room with five people and anyone could go through your things,” explained one resident. “On my first day in the program, I remember the smiles from the staff. They showed me my room, the locked windows, locked doors, security cameras, and the phone to get a hold of on-call staff. I feel safe because of the things we can control.”

That sense of security is no small thing to the women who are healing from trauma. However, security alone is not the end goal. Survivors of domestic violence and trauma deserve to thrive, and a sense of safety is just the start.

“Having a safe place to live is a big stress reliever. I don’t have to worry about where I have to lay my head at night, with all the other things going on in my life. If you’re not in a safe place, how will you have a job? Take care of yourself? Your mental health? Relationships? You can’t take care of anything if you don’t have a safe place to live. It’s so much more than a bed.”

The Catherine McAuley Center is much more than just a roof. Freed from concerns about where to stay, their next meal, and other basic needs, residents are able to dive into their next chapter. Each woman meets weekly with a case manager to set and work toward individualized goals. Residents also attend other therapeutic and skill-building group learning opportunities throughout the week like cooking classes, sessions on self-esteem and codependency, and workshops on scheduling positive activities for the weekend.

Residential kitchen

Volunteers gather in the Women’s Services kitchen

As a female-responsive program, the opportunity to build strong relationships with other residents is a key component of life at the Center. Even the facilities have been updated to better promote relationship-building; a community-supported renovation in 2014 expanded the program’s small, enclosed, galley kitchen into an open gathering space where residents cook together and share meals on Friday evenings.

“I feel safer and more at home here than I ever have. We’re like a family. If anything happens, there’s someone right next to you. We’re not alone.”

Those relationships with other women only strengthen the sense of safety, helping residents see their own resilience and strengths. The Center also maintains positive relationships between residents and staff by offering trauma-informed care.

These are things that set the Catherine McAuley Center apart – there is structure, but both clients and staff remain cognizant of choice. Beyond regular meetings with case managers and in group learning opportunities, the women here are equipped to make choices about everything in their lives. They are held to their own expectations and goals that they set upon arrival, and given the tools to better understand the challenges they face.

“My understanding of safety has changed. It used to mean not getting beat up. Now it means being able to express my thoughts, feelings, and opinions as a human being, as a woman. To be able to make my own decisions, get input on those decisions, and to have choices. It’s the safest I ever felt in my life.”