Nonprofits Hearts of Enpowerment and The Oasis Alliance has helped to makeover the homes for some local survivors of trauma and for Alexandria-based recovery program Friends of Guest House — an Alexandria reentry program for women leaving prison.
“Hearts of Empowerment contributed its fundraising capacity to raise over $4,500, supply furniture and building materials, as well as provide discounts at local hardware stores,” the organization said in a press release. “The group promoted the program to shelters and community centers to help identify individuals and families that could benefit from the service.”
The organizations help makeover two homes in addition to Friends of Guest House.
“As a result, not only were two women with young children selected for space makeovers, but Alexandria-based Friends of Guest House, which helps women transition back into the community after incarceration, also received a facility makeover,”
Teams worked on a new reading room, computer area, kitchen and living room while women in the facility were out on a field trip to surprise them when they returned. The Oasis Alliance also offered time with a therapist for residents of the program.
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For many women at Friends of Guest House, self-quarantining bears an uncomfortable familiarity to the jails and prisons they just left.
The Alexandria shelter helps women emerging from incarceration reenter their communities. But coronavirus has put a new wrench into those plans and spokesperson Marisa Tordella says there’s some extra frustrations and tensions for women who once again feel like they are in lockdown.
“There are peaks and valleys,” Tordella said. “I think one of the things that is really hard for our clients — even though their movement is restricted and locked in their home — it’s familiar to incarceration so there’s a lot of anxiety with that. We’re trying to bring as much to them as they can to make them feel better, to encourage them that it’s not just them. Everyone is feeling this.”
There are two homes for clients at Friends of Guest House, both of which are still open. While other non-profits have had to curtail their operations or close entirely, Tordella said their organization’s clients have become even more reliant on the services their nonprofit provides.
“We’re taking it one day at a time,” Tordella said. “It’s obviously stressful. It’s very difficult and challenging. It feels like our world is upside down but I don’t think we’re alone in that.”