We are excited to welcome Baylor College of Medicine addiction psychiatry fellows to Santa Maria. The fellows will be assisting with our detoxification and medication assisted treatment programs as well as providing additional integrated psychiatric services. The program provides an opportunity for fellows to provide integrated mental health and substance use disorder treatment while at the same time building their capacity to meet the specialized needs of women and diverse populations and understand and address the larger social context, social determinants of health, and health disparities affecting our population.
Family and Community Literacy Workshops and Resources
Read and Rise program is back, at SMH, and our residents are enjoying every word of it.
The Read and Rise program provides families with hands-on strategies for building literacy at home, reinforces the fact that parents are their child’s first and most important teacher, and builds text-rich environments by providing take-home books, and other parent resources for families who participate in the program.
Special shout out to our very own SMH volunteer, Pattie Holacek, for her efforts to lead this class.
“When I grew up, no one read to me, we did not have books in the home and so I did not know how important reading to a child was. I am excited to know this because I am a stay-at-home mom and I can read all the time during the day. My kids love it. They are learning to recognize the animals in their books and the sounds they make, it is so cute!”
~Read & Rise, Program Participant
On the last day of class, each mom makes a book using the letters in their child’s name, add other objects that start with the letter of their names, and then draws an illustration to go along. Making it a personalized gift that is fun and can be read over and over to their child.
Santa Maria Hostel (SMH) is honored to have been awarded the Houston Methodists’ Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) program grant award.
Houston Methodist has designed the award to continue a keen focus on addressing social determinants of health which impact social minority groups such as women, people experiencing homelessness, older adults, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and more. By directing funding to programs designed for these groups, the resources can identify and uncover the unique challenges faced by the various social minority groups. Once uncovered, especially designed programming can address the root causes of these health inequities which can lead to poor outcomes. Santa Maria’s awarded funding focuses on women who are struggling with substance use disorder and have criminal justice involvement.
Amelia Murphy, Senior Director of Recovery Support Services will direct the DEI program. It will be staffed with capable peer recovery support specialists equipped to dismantle the unique barriers their participants face. For many years, SMH has worked closely with reintegration of women after incarceration, on our campus, directly in the jails and prisons and in the courts.
We thank Houston Methodist for their forethought and leadership in the area of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion. We are proud to be selected as one of their partners in this effort.
We would like to thank Swatantra and Bimla Jain and the group of young professionals at Katy Rotaract for their generous donation and Joi and Angel from Joiful Entertainment that made this event possible. It was a magical and inspirational afternoon.
Rev. Tammy Heinrich, Pastor at Terrace United Methodist
In April, Santa Maria was selected as one of 10 sites to participate in the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities’ Texas Change in Mind Learning Collaborative. With generous funding from the Episcopal Health Foundation and the Powell Foundation, the collaboration will begin this spring and run through June 2023.
The selection announcement included the overarching goal that “the group will infuse, accelerate and align brain science research throughout the human-serving sector in an effort to create lasting systems change and influence policy that will ultimately improve the lives of children and families in Texas”.
“We would like to develop initiatives for sharing our learning with the larger community, including parents, as well as educating our partners in targeted systems such as child welfare, criminal justice, healthcare and housing”.
NAS refers to the symptoms a newborn baby experiences from in utero exposure to substances or medication, typically an opioid.
Every 25 minutes a baby is born with NAS. Texas’ NAS Medicaid birth rates have increased every year since 2013.
- increase awareness about NAS to pregnant women concerning the dangers of using opioids during pregnancy
- increase education and reduce stigma in seeking help for pregnant women using opioids that they should not discontinue opioid use due to the risk of maternal relapse, overdose, withdrawals and fetal demise
- provide community resources available to pregnant women in Texas
The awareness initiative is promoted by Texas Health and Human Services with the aim to spotlight the rising number of babies born in Texas with NAS and the substantially increased risk of maternal mortality due to opioid overdose just after birth.
Each year SMH supports many expectant mothers through residential treatment and community-based intervention and care for affected individuals. Through our programming, we support the health of the mother and the ability for healthy babies to be born and thrive.
If you are interested in more information, please consider registering for the NAS public symposium, here.
Cary White, our new Chief Development and Communications Officer is a native of Florida but no stranger to the needs of underserved communities and families struggling to make ends meet in Texas, that is why for the past 25 years she has dedicated her life to enhancing life transforming services through programming, fundraising and local likeminded partnerships.
Our original award of CARF (Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities) recognition was March 3, 2018. Our recent renewal survey awarded us three additional years of recognition. This distinguished award was earned by Santa Maria after a process of intense inspection which recognized the focus of our leadership to continually improving services, gathering pertinent feedback from participants and to meeting internationally recognized standards in care.
Led by Mary Buchner, Chief Clinical Officer and De’Audra Whiting, Senior Director of Quality Improvement and expertly coordinated by Valencia Jack, Executive Assistant.
Santa Maria (SMH) was recently the beneficiary of an award from the Texas Bar Foundation for our Court Liaisons Services program, led by Tommy Austin. This program is the only one of its kind in the state and strives to advocate for timely access to care, treatment and services for women involved in criminal justice or Child Protective Services systems in Greater Houston.
As a professional responsible for coordinating logistics for people involved in legal cases,Tommy Austin has been serving the residents of Santa Maria for over 15 years. He works as a go-between for various agencies and individuals helping the legal process run smoothly. The goal of his services is to assist in family reunification. His overall objective is to increase communication and sharing of information between the resident, SMH and the court or Department of Family Services.
In an average year, 5,400 women are served in the program annually. That number has been reduced due to COVID-19, but it is expected that the number will increase once the courts are running normally again. Says Holly, a former resident and beneficiary of Tommy’s expertise, “There was never a time that he did not have time for me. He understood that everything was on the line and helped me keep hope.”
“We are honored to have been chosen by the Texas Bar Foundation for this grant award to support our Court Liaison program. Through this program, Santa Maria advocates for timely access to care, treatment and services for women involved in the criminal justice, or child welfare systems in Greater Houston. Support from the Texas Bar Foundation is so important as the women have no other means to access these services and is especially important now given the impacts of COVID during the last year.” says Nadine Scamp, CEO of SMH.
Since its inception in 1965, the Texas Bar Foundation has awarded more than $22 million in grants to law-related programs. Supported by members of the State Bar of Texas, the Texas Bar Foundation is the nation’s largest charitably-funded bar foundation.
We are grateful to the Texas Bar Foundation for their recognition and support of this vital service.
TRUSTING SANTA MARIA CHANGES A FAMILY
On the edges of her life, Courtney had always used drugs recreationally. It wasn’t until her infant son Jacob died in his sleep, co-sleeping with his father that her use spiraled out of control. She could not stand the feelings of anger and despair caused by her grief. She felt she needed to numb her racing mind. And so, she did for two and a half years. She no longer cared for her daughter, Kylie in the loving way she had before. She compromised her own safety, and that of her daughter, as her dependence progressed. Courtney lost her moral compass, her determination and her soul.
It took an arrest for public intoxication and possession in 2014 that landed her in the Harris County jail to get her attention. It was there, as she detoxed without medical assistance from “whatever she could shoot into her veins” that she discovered she was pregnant. It was through that arrest, involvement with CPS and the introduction of a restorative option of treatment, that she came to Santa Maria. She arrived at her new residence depressed, angry with God and in denial about her real situation. She mistrusted the staff and could not believe they were on her side. She was often non-compliant with assignments, policies and procedures and prescribed routines. Early on, she was not making progress.
Eventually, new thinking started to surface. There was her family to consider. There was another baby on the way. Following the path of recovery, this baby could be born healthy and thrive. Also, with a clear head, she began to see how her decisions had affected Kylie’s life. Although Kylie was in the safe care of her grandparents, this vulnerable child, who had suffered so much from her mother’s absence, began to have serious emotional issues. It was in the loving and compassionate support that the SMH staff showed her daughter that Courtney finally realized she was in a place of help and hope not just for herself, but also for her children. She opened her mind and her heart and began to fully participate in everything that was offered. She continued with outpatient treatment for three months.
Today, on reflection, she feels like the unity with the other residents, the parenting classes, the 12 -step groups and the tenacity of her treatment team are the major contributors to her successful discharge. With the unbelievable care she received during her difficult pregnancy and the early birth of her baby girl, Courtney began to structure her life around her own health and her children’s development. With the extended time available through the safe housing program, she was able to become a better parent and integrate her recovery skills into their lives.
Even now, she still structures her day with the simple discipline she learned while she lived at Bonita House. She still wakes up every day and vows that just for today, she will not use drugs. She calls her sponsor, she attends women’s support meetings, prepares meals, runs the carpool for school and helps with her children’s activities. “Some might say I live a boring life, Courtney says, but I know that I am focused on the good things, the things that matter.” Courtney celebrated 5 years in recovery this past November.
Kylie, now 18 and a senior at Humble High, shares her family’s story with her friends. She has just been awarded a $60,000 scholarship to attend Howard Payne University and plans to study business and psychology. She feels that the individual counseling and family therapy she received made her worry less about her mom and understand her better. “These things have made me stronger. I share my experiences with no shame. I am proud of my mom.” Courtney adds, “Santa Maria literally changed our lives. It saved us – our whole family.”
SHE IS THE FACE OF RECOVHERY.