Welcome to the first edition of our new Newsletter. A new look for sure. A new approach? Maybe. Definitely trying something different.
One of the things that challenges our families the most is change, and in particular uncertain change. That’s the sense of change where you don’t feel like you have any control over the outcome. It causes anxiety. It causes stress. It raises doubts. It questions the future. COVID-19 has certainly brought about uncertain change - for all of us - and we’ve been working hard to create as much normalcy as possible for our families to help them through this crisis.
But uncertain change also provides opportunities to think and try things differently. And that’s what we’ve been doing at GileadHouse over the last several months. Thinking about how we strengthen our program to better ensure each mom that comes into our care is guided along a path that moves from the trauma of the past to a future of hope. Thinking about how we provide services to our kids to assist them with their school work so they don’t fall too far behind their peers. Thinking about how we better reach out to our incredible community of supporters to share the good news of our work and our accomplishments. Thinking about how we go about raising the funds so desperately needed to deliver our mission. In this edition of the Newsletter, we share some of this with you.
Our most exciting news is we have five new families joining us on July 27th - five moms and eight kids. All are coming into the main house. All will be part of our new emphasis on education as the opportunity for a self-reliant future - four of our new moms will start their associate degree program at College of Marin while the fifth will work to complete her Bachelor’s degree. And all will participate with our other six moms in Life Skills and Chasing Hope classes. It will definitely be a thrill to have a full house again.
There is a great Christian hymn, written in 1773 by Englishman William Cowper, that says “God moves in a mysterious way/His wonders to perform/He plants his footsteps in the sea/And rides upon the storm." From the very first days of the pandemic, we have been overwhelmed by the love and support of our community: from those who have long been associated with GileadHouse to those who were complete strangers who found out about us in some fashion and just wanted to help. I know that God continues to guide us and look after us, and through his strength, will safely bring us through these turbulent times.
God bless you and all the best.
Interim Executive Director
Our New Website
We are very excited to announce the launch of our newly designed website. Please visit us at gileadhouse.org. The new website is the result of the very hard work and dedication of our newest Board Member, Debi Nguyen, supported by Carly Hoj, and was launched on July 16th.
Our goal with this new website is to provide those who visit our site an easier way to learn about GileadHouse’s services and browse information on our organization. The new website gives better access to who we are, our program, stories about our moms, our events, and ways to volunteer and donate. The new website is also designed to make it easier to access information on GileadHouse from a cell phone.
We would like to thank Debi, Carly, and all of those who donated their time and energy to make this site what it is - thank you for helping make GileadHouse even better.
Moms & Kids
Have you been living your whole life on Zoom lately? We have too! In an effort to stay connected, keep the kids engaged, and safely engage in fellowship with each other, we too have taken to Zoom to make that happen. Our kids have participated in Zoom tutoring, PE, and ballet classes on a weekly basis. Our moms have been busy too! In addition to their usual weekly LifeSkills and Chasing Hope classes, our moms have engaged in weekly meditation classes to encourage healthy ways to maintain sanity while homeschooling their kids and managing this season of shelter-in-place and the anxiety that ensues.
A key to GileadHouse’s success is a community of supporters who freely share what they have with our families. Throughout the pandemic, people have given gift cards and cash donations and clothing and blankets and stuffed animals and books and games to ensure our families had what they needed to make it through these tough times. They’ve also given that most valuable of commodities: their time. From tutoring to mentoring to helping prepare the house for our new families, our supporters have been there when needed.
In addition, we’ve seen love and support from restaurants and food suppliers in our community who had a little extra to share with us. Chick-fil-A, Tommy’s Salsa, Beso Bistro, Extra Food, Celine’s Sweets to name a few.
While all have been incredible, I wanted to highlight one in particular - not only for their unbridled enthusiasm to share food with our families, but for their efforts to make our mom’s feel special - and normal. On Mother’s Day, Truffle Shuffle provided meal kits for Crepes Suzette with Brown Butter Truffle Honey to each of our families. And then they had each of our moms join them on a Zoom cooking class to learn how to make an incredible breakfast.
To each and every one of you who have donated your time, your gifts, or your treasures, we say a huge thank you.
In response to Marin’s upended classroom structure during Shelter-In-Place, Gilead House’s Program Director, Olivia Benesch, developed a virtual tutoring initiative to support the families residing with us. Volunteers from across the U.S. have tuned in to tutor our 12 Gilead House children on a variety of subjects; from reading storybooks to toddlers to examining Algebraic equations, our tutoring sessions help ameliorate some of the deficits of “distance learning”. Over the past 3 months, our students and volunteers have participated in over 120 hours of tutoring!
Olivia notes that she has seen “incredible academic progress” most notably in reading comprehension and math skills. “Weekly sessions have provided a sense of structure, schedule, and familiarity for Gilead House children. The initiative has provided an opportunity for the students to connect with community members, as well as a chance for their mothers to take a well-deserved break!”, Olivia explains. Thank you to all our volunteer tutors that have made this possible!
Each year, Gilead House celebrates moms at an event we call Mothers Matter. Mothers Matter is about celebrating the progress the moms at Gilead House are making to improve their lives, and the lives of the children. It’s a chance to think about our own moms and the important role they play as teachers, nurturers, confidants, disciplinarians, and emotional anchors. It’s about getting together with friends for an evening of fun. And it’s about supporting the work Gilead House is doing to empower homeless moms on their path to self-sufficiency.
In preparation for a great evening, plans were being made, food was being ordered, floral centerpieces were being designed, music was being rehearsed… And then along came COVID-19.
Benjamin Franklin once said, “out of adversity comes opportunity.” So rather than let the pandemic spoil our fun, we are taking Ben’s advice and re-envisioning Mothers Matter.
And we think our re-envisioned Mothers Matter will be one of our best ever. Why? Because we have the freedom to come up with all kinds of safe and innovative ways to celebrate our moms. For now, many of these will be virtual. Maybe a bit later, some may be in person (socially distanced of course).
Will you consider joining us for our reinvented Mothers Matter events coming up?