VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: The Smolen Family

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: The Smolen Family

There are many ways you can volunteer for Marian House and the Smolen Family of four has proven that.

John Smolen is a Marian House volunteer and his connection to us dates to 2008, a connection he describes as “hanging out in Katie’s circles.” (Katie Allston, Executive Director). At the time, John was on the board of the Homeless Persons Representation Project (HPRP) and knew about Marian House from running into Katie at Cub Scout meetings. Katie’s son Quinn was in the Cub Scout pack with John’s son, where John was Scout Master. Katie’s husband Paul grew up in Kansas City, about one mile from where John Smolen grew up. Talk about six degrees of separation!

John is a lawyer at the prestigious firm of Ballard Spahr LLP, where they have a very strong “pro bono culture” and where John holds the 2020 Pro Bono Honor Roll Gold recognition. The firm’s belief is that a charity’s money is better spent on their mission than paying for legal services. Marian House was the beneficiary of Ballard Spahr’s generosity when we learned about the acquisition of the Women’s Industrial Exchange (WIE) Building and had a need for legal services.

Marian House had the pleasure of working with a team of five lawyers and paralegals: John Smolen, Teri Guarnaccia, Alyssa Domzal, Marybeth Orsini and Kate McDonald. John stated, “the Ballard Spahr team is super supportive of pro bono work and this was no exception. This was a fairly routine real estate transaction and was a teaching opportunity for some of our younger lawyers and paralegals.”

John’s wife Jenny is the business manager of the Catholic Community of South Baltimore, a combination of three churches in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore.

Jenny was able to direct financial donations to Marian House from the church collections. John and Jenny are also personal donors to Marian House and have participated in our 5K Race for many years.

Felix Smolen, John & Jenny’s son, attends Mt. St. Joe’s High School and recently volunteered at Marian House to meet some of his service hour requirements. John and Jenny’s daughter, Rae, attends The Catholic High School and is planning to do some service hours at Marian House as soon as she is able.

When asked why the Smolen family is so devoted to Marian House John replied, “the Catholic connection was definitely a part of it. I have a deep- rooted Catholic faith and have an aunt who is a Sister of Mercy. The fact that Marian House was founded by the School Sisters of Notre Dame and the Sisters of Mercy made it easy for my family to connect with Marian House.”

We are grateful to the Smolen family and the team from Ballard Spahr for their support of the Marian House mission.

You Can Provide Joy the Holiday Season

This year has been challenging in so many ways and the 2020 holiday season will be quite different from those past. The holidays are, for most of us, a mixture of stress along with joy and celebration.

For the women and children that we serve at Marian House the holidays can be quite challenging, bringing on more severe depression, sadness, and painful memories of the poverty, isolation and trauma they have experienced. Marian House strives to combat this sadness by providing our women with a loving home and the support they need to get to a new year.

You have been a wonderful supporter of Marian House and for that we are truly grateful. With blessings all around us, we invite you to support Marian House at this time, when we need it the most.

Your gift will directly impact women like Tyona Patterson. Tyona Patterson came to Marian House 11 months ago from a residential recovery center. When Tyona contacted Marian House, she was told there was a waiting list and Tyona said she would wait. She waited 3 months and called every day until a space was available for her.

Tyona had been at the treatment center for 8 months on this occasion but had been in recovery multiple times in the past. She is committed to her sobriety today, “I was tired of the revolving door in and out of recovery for so many years”, stated Tyona. “I started using drugs at age 16 and had been in and out of addiction for 19 years. I’ve had enough!”

Tyona lives at our Mercy Residence where she was able to reunite with her 3 children, 14-year-old twins Labria and Labron, and her youngest daughter 9-year-old Aliah. Tyona has three bedrooms for her family and shares the kitchen and other common areas with other Mercy residents.

“It has been wonderful living in the Marian House program”, says Tyona. “I have taken advantage of every opportunity that the staff has suggested, not just because they recommended it but because I honestly believe that is what I needed if I wanted to succeed.” Tyona continued, “the children have adjusted very well, and I work to make them as comfortable as possible because I made them uncomfortable for so many years. I want to be the best mom they deserve.”

Tyona is doing so well that she is ready to move into her own house, having qualified for a re-entry program Section 8 voucher. She has been working at Flagger Force for 5 months and received a promotion to Crew Leader after just 3 months on the job. She also has access to a truck she uses to commute to and from the job. Tyona is very optimistic about the future for her and her children. “If you are patient and work hard to improve your life, good things will happen,” said Tyona.

We can fulfill our mission to provide housing and support services to homeless women and children with your donation. Your gift in any amount can make a difference. You can restore hope and provide joy this holiday season and all year long to the women and children in our care.

Thank you, and may you enjoy the holiday season.
God Bless You.

In Peace,

Katie Allston, LCSW-C Executive Director

Resilience in Action – Annual Report 2020

It is with pride that we share the Marian House Fiscal Year 2020 Annual Report, Resilience in Action.

We are always amazed at what we can accomplish and the impact we make on the women and children that we serve at Marian House. The first six months of the fiscal year were outstanding and we were set to exceed many goals we had established. The early months of 2020 brought us into unfamiliar territory with the arrival of COVID-19 and the impact it could potentially have on congregate housing settings. We are thrilled to say that we have no cases of COVID at Marian House. We have remained diligent in continuing the services and support that we are known to provide, updating our technology with tele-health services and following all CDC recommended procedures.

We can only accomplish the work we do with YOU by our side.

On behalf of the Board, staff, and residents of Marian House, thank you for your continued support.

 

View the Report >

 

Thank You – Race to Embrace Independence 5K Results

During an unprecedented year, we had a truly unprecedented, fully virtual, Race to Embrace Independence 5K.

Thank you for your continued engagement with our annual fundraiser

celebrating the journeys of our women.

We had over 400 registrants and 36 teams participate in the safety of their own homes and communities.

With an eight day race week we worked to pay homage to the history of the race while embracing the unique circumstances of 2020! A new registration and fundraising platform and your hard work helped us to exceed our peer to peer fundraising goal of $35,000.00.

With an amazing array of prizes from our donors, this year’s online raffle was more popular than ever! This event wouldn’t have been possible without our long list of race sponsors, who despite the current economic climate, continued to show their commitment to the cause. 2020 sponsorship pledges exceeded $74,000.00.

We also owe an extra special debt of gratitude to our 2020 5K Planning Committee, whose creativity and ability to adapt to new challenges, made a successful virtual event possible. You all are as a golden as our 2020 race shirt! The one thing that rang true throughout this experience is that the race must go on!

Indeed it did, and our projected net from the 5K is likely to be over $100,000.00 again this year!

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Kate Hutson

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Kate Hutson

Cate Hutson is a 17-year-old senior at Towson High School. She runs track and cross country and also participates in the school’s Model Congress. She’s taking the virtual start to her senior year in stride and is focused on college application essays to mid-Atlantic schools with programs in biology and public health.

Marian House has been lucky to have worked with Cate over the past two years on a final service project as she finishes 11 years in the Girl Scouts. As an active member of her troop, Cate is following in the footsteps of her mother, a former Girl Scout, and her brother, who was once active in Cub Scouts.

After winning the Girl Scout Silver Award for a project focused on animal welfare, and before transitioning to what is sure to be a bright future, Cate decided to strive for the prestigious Gold Award, a feat achieved by only 5% of eligible senior and ambassador scouts, by devoting her time and talents to a capstone project which would build on the skills she’s acquired through her years in the Girl Scouts.

Cate heard about Marian House through her mother and a partner organization as she was exploring opportunities to work with people. After two years of thorough planning, Cate brought 23 volunteers out over 4 days in late July to clean and beautify the small, private playground behind the Notre Dame Residence at our Independence Place Campus in Pen Lucy, and spruced up some adjacent plant beds at the Independence Place campus. She acquired the tools and materials, as well as the people power, to remove trash and weeds, clean playground equipment, trim back vines and trees, replace gravel and rotted landscape timbers, install a drainage system and spread new mulch.

She coordinated with and procured resources from Hollins Market and Home Depot, gleaned input from experts at Mahan Rykiel Associates and those within her personal network, but it was the implementation phase of the project where she felt that she thrived and had the most fun. Despite having to wrap up the project in the midst of a pandemic, she was still able to mobilize friends, family, classmates and members of her faith community at Central Presbyterian Church to make her vision and the needs of our Marian House families come to fruition.

With a focus on sustainability, Cate has also provided Marian House with the details needed to maintain the refurbished space for our children and families to use long into the future. During a summer in which Marian House families have been more homebound than ever, this has been an extra special gift to us! We share our appreciation for Cate’s time and hard work. Congratulations on earning the Girl Scout Gold Award!

RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT: SACHE

RESIDENT SPOTLIGHT
Saché grew up in a tight-knit family in the Park Heights neighborhood of Baltimore. She is the oldest of 5 siblings, with 2 brothers and 2 sisters. She had her first drink at the age of fifteen, but it wasn’t until she was twenty-two that she began to abuse alcohol as a means to cope with the abusive relationship she was in. After multiple attempts, Saché was finally able to leave her abusive partner, but the addiction to alcohol had developed into a vicious cycle in her life. Over and over, period s of sobriety and stability would be followed by relapse, loss of job and home. Another attempt at recovery would eventually end in relapse, and the cycle continued.

“When I was just focused on working, I had no time for recovery. That’s been my problem in the past, I forget that I have an addiction so I get back to my regular life and forget that I can’t have a drink, then I’m back to square one: homeless, losing my job, having no money, and burning bridges with my family. The alcoholism makes my life unmanageable, makes me depressed and not care about anything, not even living.”

During her last attempt at sobriety, Saché was working two jobs, had six months sober, but was so busy that she did not prioritize her recovery. She knew she was on the verge of relapse.
As the holiday season came around, Saché was struggling with loneliness and she began to walk to the bar, but her boyfriend found her and stopped her from fully relapsing. “I knew I needed to do more for my recovery or I wasn’t going to make it. When I had my interviews for Marian House, I knew this is where I needed to be. I needed the structure and the accountability. “ When Saché first walked through our doors, just a few weeks later, in January this year, she remembers: “I was greeted by the other residents great, big smiles. I felt like God sent me angels. I relaxed in my shoulders and in my gut. It was a sense of relief and I knew it was going to be a good atmosphere for me.
Everybody welcomed me and was so friendly. Now that I’ve been here for a while, I know, it’s hard NOT to grow here. When a new resident comes, I try to show them the same warmth and comfort that I felt when I first got here.” Since being at Marian House, Saché has appreciated the stability that she has here. She started therapy for the first time in her life and began to address her anxiety and addiction. She is learning about herself and is building healthy coping strategies to maintain her sobriety long-term. “I had been in survival mode for so long. I was scared. I felt like I was just existing and like I was near death.
But God gave me hope, that I’m not too far gone, I still had a little bit of hope left to keep fighting. You don’t always get a lot of chances to start over, but Marian House gave me a stable place where I didn’t have to think about a bed, having heat, a roof over my head, or my next shower. Now that I don’t have to worry about those things, I’m able to keep my recovery first! I have hope again.”
Today, Saché has been rebuilding her career. In the past two month she has completed a phlebotomy course, renewed her First Aid and CPR certification, renewed her Medical Assistant license and is about to start a course for IV Therapy. “I feel like I’m in control of my life again, and if there’s something I can’t control – I know how to step away and let that go. I’m not living my life based on fear anymore. I’m looking forward to my independence, I want it all: my career, a car, my own place, and in the future, I want to be a Nurse Practitioner or Physician’s Assistant.
My dream is to open a free mobile clinic that can go into the communities and give people the care they need, where they don’t have to worry about being judged or having to pay for it. My family is very proud and supportive of me and my process. They’re happy that they have back the Saché they remember.”
We’re so proud of Saché and have no doubt that she’ll be able to reach all that she has dreamed of!

LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

LETTER FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

 

Happy Fall to All,
Although it seemed as if 2020 would last forever, I have to admit that it has gone by quickly and I can’t believe the holidays will soon be upon us. As you may know, at Marian House we celebrate every major and minor holiday with the intention of spreading cheer and lifting the spirits of all the women and children in our care. We expect the 2020 holidays to be very different than in previous years, but we will do everything possible to make them special regardless. Please see the article on “Tis the Season” for details on how you can help. We continue to be blessed with good health, despite the number of COVID-19 cases locally and nationally. Our attention to CDC protocols and guidelines for all staff and residents at Marian House have helped us to avoid any positive cases.
We hope you and your family are also in good health. Since March, all of our events have become virtual. We recently completed a very successful 12th Annual Race to Embrace Independence that was held virtually over an eight-day period. Necessity is the mother of invention for sure! Look for details in the 5K wrap-up article in this newsletter. We also had a fun Trivia Night fundraiser that was so popular, we plan to hold another one in January.
We miss our volunteers coming to visit and have created some virtual volunteer opportunities. We can share these with you by contacting advancement@marianhouse.org. We are excited to share that our volunteer Cate Hutson was able to finish the Girl Scout capstone project that she started pre-COVID. We hope you enjoy reading about her beautification of the playground at our Independence Place campus.
I wish you a healthy fall and the happiest of holidays. Please know how much we appreciate your support of Marian House and we hope we will see you in person very soon.
Wishing You Peace,
Katie Allston, LCSW-C
Executive Director

Tis’ The Season

Tis’ The Season

Marian House invites you to spread some holiday cheer by adopting one or more women and/or families for the holidays. We are seeking individuals, families, churches, organizations, and businesses to participate in our Holiday Giving Program.

 

We will provide you with a wish list of items from our residents and you can schedule a time to drop off the unwrapped items at Marian House any time before December 17. If you want to avoid the stores this holiday season, please consider donating gift cards to Walmart, Target or Amazon and we will do the shopping for you.

Thanks so much for your consideration. Please contact advancement@marianhouse.org and let us know about your adoption or donation interests. With your help, we can make the holidays at Marian house special for all the women and children we serve.

P.S. If you plan on using Amazon for your personal holiday shopping, remember to purchase at smile.amazon.com and select Marian House as the organization to receive a portion of your purchase.

Nothing Trivial About It!

Nothing Trivial About It!

We are thankful to board member Karen Albert for bringing us an idea for a new, pandemic friendly fundraiser this summer. When she said “Let’s do a Trivia Night Fundraiser!”, we jumped on it.

Taking place on Monday, August 31, over 100 people gathered in teams of eight players on Zoom and competed to earn points and bragging rights as winners. Hosted by Walsh Trivia, teams played 4 rounds of 4 games each, earning points along the way.

Congratulations to The Smith Family Scholars for pulling out a last minute win. Although they were not in first place for the final question, they made a creative wager and with the correct answer, won the event!

We had such a good time that we have decided to schedule another Trivia Night on January 20th.

Stay tuned for details.

And the Winner Is…

And the Winner Is…

Congratulations to Sister Joan Minella for winning the 2020 Ravens Season Tickets Raffle. Sister Joan purchased her tickets on July 27th, just in time for the drawing on July 30th. Although Sister Joan is a big Ravens fan, she took the $1,500 cash prize option due to the fact that there will not be fans in the stadium for the 2020 football season. We are hopeful that fans are able to join at some capacity for the 2021 season. Be on the lookout for ticket sales to begin on April 1, 2021. Thanks to all who participated in the 2020 Raffle.

During an unprecedented year, we had a truly unprecedented, fully virtual, Race to Embrace Independence 5K. Thank you for your continued engagement with our annual fundraiser celebrating the journeys of our women. We had over 400 registrants and 36 teams participate in the safety of their own homes and communities.

With an eight day race week we worked to pay homage to the history of the race while embracing the unique circumstances of 2020! A new registration and fundraising platform and your hard work helped us to exceed our peer to peer fundraising goal of $35,000.00. With an amazing array of prizes from our donors, this year’s online raffle was more popular than ever!

This event wouldn’t have been possible without our long list of race sponsors, who despite the current economic climate, continued to show their commitment to the cause. 2020 sponsorship pledges exceeded $74,000.00. We also owe an extra special debt of gratitude to our 2020 5K Planning Committee, whose creativity and ability to adapt to new challenges, made a successful virtual event possible. You all are as a golden as our 2020 race shirt!

The one thing that rang true throughout this experience is that the race must go on! Indeed it did, and our projected net from the 5K is likely to be over $100,000.00 again this year!