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Mission to Burundi: hope in the midst of poverty

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Elizabeth House
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Black Catholic
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Three who are called
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Report looks
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placeholder October 27, 2014   •   VOL. 52, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Elizabeth House helps women on their journey
 
Fashion show & party

McMullen Fashion Show and Cocktail Party

What: Benefits Elizabeth House Oakland

When: Nov. 13, 7-9 p.m.

Where: Vessel Art Gallery, 471 25th St., Oakland

Cost: Runway VIP tickets $100; general admission $75

Raffle tickets: $10 or 3 for $25

RSVP: rsvp@shopmullen.com

Information:oakehouse.org
 

Over the past 23 years, Elizabeth House has helped more than 500 women with children transition out of a downward spiral — homelessness, poverty, addiction, domestic violence — into safe, permanent housing.

Along the way, during their stays of about 18 months each, the women have gone to school, moving from GED, to community college and, for some, into university life.

Jamillah Talton, one of the newest residents of the house in North Oakland, has her sights set on becoming one of the success stories.

Her call to 211 — the social services information line — resulted in a referral to Elizabeth House for the mother of two preschool children.

"My goal right now is to remain a positive attribute," she said. At Elizabeth House, that means working with a case manager, attending therapy either onsite or elsewhere, and participating in house activities, including cooking for the family-style dinner that is prepared and served daily.

She had been attending classes at City College of San Francisco, and now plans to begin studies in January at Berkeley City College.

Her educational goal is to earn a master's degree in criminal justice or social work and become a probation officer. Her ultimate goal is "to motivate the youth and empower young women." She said she is especially interested in helping them be "healthy parents for their children."

"I'm just now able to identify the bad choices," she said, adding she plans to "break the cycle and be a role model for my children."

The better life she envisions for her children begins at Elizabeth House, where there's a playroom with toys to inspire curiosity, volunteers who come for reading hours, a volunteer who plays the piano for the children and field trips to performances they would otherwise not see.

It inspires the children, she said, "to keep an open imagination."

The security of a roof over their heads is also valued. They're not worrying about somewhere to go, or who's going to take care of us?" she said.

"Living here has given me a peace of mind, a foundation, sense of security," she said.

Real change takes time. She plans to make the most of it, and transition, like mothers before her, to permanent housing.

The most successful Elizabeth House use the entire 18 months, said Tina Humphrey, executive director.

The mother's physical and mental health needs are addressed. The path to continued education and employment can take a lot of a mother's energy.

"It really helps her to have stability," Humphrey said, "a place to lay her head."

 
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