Anna Christina Peterpaul, CRFW Volunteer
I recently became a volunteer at Crossroads for Women. Due to my writing experience I opted to become a contributor to the newsletter. My background includes writing on the women in prison in Grants, and volunteering at organizations that help immigrant women.
Maya’s Place is a six month transitional living program for homeless women who are struggling with addiction and mental health disorders. The building is shaped in the form of a U with apartments and main office space on either side of the U. At the very end you can see a spacious, pleasant looking garden. Not too long ago, I had the opportunity to interview the four staff members at Maya’s Place: Rebecca, Cory, Tracy and Patty.
Rebecca Lillywhite, Program Coordinator of Maya’s Place, is a soft spoken woman with a gentle demeanor. She has worked at Maya’s Place for nearly 2 years. Rebecca explained that the program at Maya’s Place is the only one of its kind in Albuquerque. There is a long waiting list of women wanting to be part of the program. Rebecca makes weekly visits to the Metropolitan Detention Center to provide a life skills group, program orientation, and to interview candidates who want to be part of Maya’s Place. Currently Maya’s Place has 15 residents.
During our interview, Rebecca explained that a common challenge the women face consists of trusting themselves and feeling safe in the world. Maya’s Place provides a safe, supportive and structured environment for its residents. The women have opportunities to learn constructive coping skills from role models, to be accountable, and are offered choices to do the right thing. The discovery of new roles for the women is an essential part of the process of recovery. Limit setting, consistency, patience, collaboration, integrity and trust are also part of this process. “Some of the most wounded women are very resilient,” according to Rebecca.
Cory Lee is a case manager who has worked at Maya’s Place for nearly 1 ½ years. She meets once a week with clients to ensure that they are meeting the basic program requirements.
Self-esteem, family reunification, housing, goal setting and time management all form part of the challenges that the women face, according to Cory. Cory supports them in addressing these goals not only in her role as a case manager, but also in the life skills group she leads.
When talking about the keys to a woman’s success Cory believes motivation is the key. “It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, what matters is your drive to get back up.” Cory believes that another key to a woman’s success is her ability to understand who she was in the past in order shape who she wants to be now and in the future. This idea forms the foundation for the writing group she mentors.
Patty is a Community Support Worker at Maya’s Place. In her calm and friendly manner Patty told me that the women at Maya’s Place are working on rebuilding relationships with their families. According to Patty a positive support system and willingness to grow are keys to a woman’s success. Patty often uses the medium of art to work with the residents, who according to her, are creative and have a lot of love to give. They are resilient and often good judges of character.
Tracy Bland has been a Resident Manager at Maya’s Place for two years. She, herself, struggled with addiction for fifteen years, and has been in recovery for the past five years. In discussing her work Tracy says that her position at Maya’s Place has made her more active with her colleagues. She’s learned different styles of communication and how to be a better listener. When asked about the uniqueness of the Maya’s Place team she summed it up in the following words, “Everybody brings their diverse perspective, instinct and informed perspective to the table. Collaboration, communication and compassion make this team work.”
Maya’s Place is a transitional home for its residents on their journey toward health and self-sufficiency. Permanent, however, are the gifts each will take with them – compassion, lessons in life skills, support and trust.