Bank of Marin
|East Bay Community Recovery Project
$1 million AHP grant
$50,000 AHEAD grant
Project Pride, a division of East Bay Community Recovery Project (EBCRP), is a residential treatment center in West Oakland where pregnant and parenting women can begin to repair the damage that drug abuse, mental illness, trauma, domestic violence, homelessness, chronic medical conditions such as HIV/AIDS, or other issues have done to them and their families. Some women walk in off the street asking for help, but most are referred by the criminal justice system or child welfare agencies. It is one of the few programs in Oakland that specialize in providing low-income women with housing and wraparound services that facilitate recovery and promote family reunification.
“Nothing but good has happened since I walked in.”
Loretta Lovett, Program Graduate
Loretta Lovett was just 15 years old when her father introduced her to methamphetamine and cocaine. “Drugs have really just been the downfall of my life, the worst decision I could have made,” Loretta says. She was a mother of two sons, ages 5 and 15, and hooked on meth when she arrived at Project Pride on July 13, 2011. “I had pretty much lost it all, all the material stuff. But when my youngest got taken away, wow, just wow. He was five, and I was using so much and not being a responsible parent.” Over that first Labor Day weekend, she relapsed. “I lost visits with both my kids the next day,” she says. “I was mortified that I had disappointed them once again.” So she recommitted to the program and celebrates September 14, 2011, as her “clean date.”
After living at Project Pride for over two years, Loretta is clean and sober and working as a receptionist at EBCRP, where she is thrilled to be the first point of contact for others seeking help with substance abuse issues. “I love my job, I get to help people,” she says. “Sometimes I make someone’s day just by smiling at them.” She is reunited with her two sons now and is looking forward to a furniture delivery for the three-bedroom apartment that, she says, fell into her lap after a long search for a place for the three of them to live together.
“We provide the services, but they have to use those services to create a clean and stable life for themselves.”
Tammy Webster, Operations Manager
Project Pride has been serving women and children since 1994. With its lease set to expire, it became clear that operating this award-winning program out of a deteriorating building that was rented from a private landlord, was not handicapped-accessible, and had poor air circulation was not sustainable. It was time to find a permanent home.
With help from an AHP grant awarded through FHLBank San Francisco member Bank of Marin, EBCRP was able to purchase a vacant single-room occupancy hotel near its other recovery facilities in West Oakland. Satellite Affordable Housing Associates (SAHA), the second largest nonprofit developer in the Bay Area, rehabilitated and renovated the rundown building, creating 20 new units of safe, stable housing where women in treatment can live with their children, up to 7 years old. The duration depends on the woman’s needs and individual treatment plan, but 12 months is the recommended minimum stay for most women.
SAHA’s top-to-bottom renovation also created multiple private offices where clinicians and counselors engage residents in creating and following an individualized treatment plan, three comfortable meeting rooms where the women gather several times a day for group sessions, a fully equipped commercial kitchen where residents help prepare all meals, and a large communal dining room designed to foster family interaction. Says Clinical Supervisor Yael Moses, “For the women staying here, everything is treatment: cleaning in the kitchen, cooking, anything to do with maintaining this house the way they would do it if they were living by themselves.”
Tammy Webster, referred to with great respect as Miss Tammy by Loretta and the other women, is Project Pride’s Operations Manager. “We tell the women that Project Pride is the frame, and they are here to do the work, and that’s how we build a solid framework,” she says. “We provide the services, but they have to use those services to create a clean and stable life for themselves.”
Residents start each day with breakfast in the bright and welcoming dining room, followed by some upbeat mommy-and-me time: finger plays, patty-cake, and nursery rhymes that even women who don’t have their children with them can enjoy. “It gets everyone in a happy mood,” says Tammy, before a busy day full of recovery-related activities, including one-on-one counseling, AA and NA meetings, relapse prevention and anger management groups, and practical learning opportunities, which range from cooking to computers.
“Many of the women who come here have not had good parenting for themselves, so there is no starting point.”
Yael Moses, Clinical Supervisor
But with family reunification a primary goal at Project Pride, which was named by early program participants in honor of how a pride of lions cares for its young together, a great deal of time and many resources go toward helping the women develop parenting skills. “Many of the women who come here have not had good parenting for themselves, so there is no starting point,” Yael Moses explains. She supervises a full-time Child Enrichment coordinator, who manages the children’s piece of the program, and the women have an opportunity to care for their own and other women’s children, always with staff monitoring and training, coaching, and modeling good parenting skills.
Repairing her relationship with her younger son was a slow process for Loretta, starting with day visits, then sleepovers, before he finally moved in with her at Project Pride after her first year there. “He was so insecure and afraid, when I’d take a shower he’d wait outside the door for me,” she says. “Because that was my M.O. when I was using. I’d go in the shower and then I’d cut out, go get high.” Project Pride has helped her look at things from the child’s point of view, to understand what she put her sons through and what to expect from them. “There are lots of reasons they don’t want to believe me,” she continues. “My son needed to rebuild trust in me and learn that mom is not going anywhere.”
EBCRP programs for women and children are recognized for best practices at the local, state, and national level. Last year, the Bank awarded Project Pride a $50,000 AHEAD grant to add a vocational rehabilitation component to its services. This grant, also awarded through member Bank of Marin, will be used to adapt an innovative, evidence-based Supported Employment (SE) model that was developed at Dartmouth College for individuals with psychiatric disabilities. The SE approach features outreach to potential employers, job readiness training, placement, and follow-up services, and Project Pride will offer it to all residents.
Loretta Lovett is clear as can be that her time at Project Pride was transformational. “Nothing but good has happened since I walked in,” she says. “I can’t go back and change what happened before, but I can definitely start a new chapter, and that’s what I’m doing right now.”