Louise Stanger is a speaker, educator, licensed clinician, social worker, certified daring way facilitator and interventionist who uses an invitational intervention approach to work with complicated mental health, substance abuse, chronic pain and process addiction clients.
During the months of September and October, I am reminded of how important gender specific treatment is for women. Two iconic behavioral health care centers in Los Angeles throw their annual fundraisers: Miriam’s House and Peggy Albrecht Friendly House LA. This blog serves to honor them and all the centers across the United States working to help women in recovery.
Miriam’s House was born out of the vision of Richard Rogg, founder of Promises Treatment Centers. The Roggs wanted to contribute to the community and help those who could not afford private treatment. On Jan 2, 2007, Miriam’s House was born on a busy street in a converted convent - a true sign of grace and compassion and the work they do.
This program fills an imperative need in Los Angeles for residential facilities that serve both low-income women and their children. Staying true to the vision of Keeping Families Together, Miriam’s House is a safe haven for children escaping chaos and instability and a recovery home for mothers seeking help.
Miriam’s House year-long recovery process (sometimes longer) nurtures the individual needs of both mother and child while fostering the healing process of fractured families. It is not a temporary shelter, though Miriam’s House does provide food, clothing and safety. Instead, it is about mothers developing lifelong skills, including parenting and occupational therapy, to lead healthy, meaningful lives free from the confines of poverty and addiction.
With these goals in mind, Miriam’s House fundamental mission is to keep mothers and children together and to find a safe and stable environment where they can begin the journey of becoming the women they are meant to be. Mothers and their children come away from Miriam’s House - through assistance with housing, education, employment and auxiliary services - equipped with the life skills essential and critical to happy and healthy long-term lives.
I’ve had the privilege of glimpsing the outstanding work they do through a client’s eyes. They’ve brought stability, healing and hope to so many women. To learn more about Miriam’s House, talk to Patricia Meyers who has lovingly cared for the treatment center since its inception or executive director Brenda Valiente. To donate, visit the Miriam’s House website.
The other treatment center I’d like to honor is the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House LA. The home was founded in 1951 and became the first residential program for women recovering from substance and alcohol abuse. Founded by Bea Jorgensen, she wanted to create a home where women could feel safe, a home where they would be loved unconditionally while they learned to love themselves.
Bea began this journey by going to the Los Angeles County Jail to visit women incarcerated there. At first she met resistance from the sheriff’s department, but gradually through persistence and demonstrated success, she won the department’s support. Bea raised money to support the house from friends in the community. Contributions were raised on a month-to-month basis – even day to day. As such, Friendly House’s continued mission is to provide an environment in which women can recover from the devastation of drug and alcohol addiction and progress toward healthy families and communities. 65 years of service and still going strong!
At the end of her tenure, it was Bea’s constant desire and second dream come true to be able to leave Friendly House in the hands of someone who shared her love and dedication to its continuing efforts. That person would be Peggy Albrecht. Peggy joined the staff of Friendly House in 1983. Under Peggy’s loving guidance, Friendly House has grown in stature, strength, and reputation into two thriving residential homes and today now operates residential treatment as well. Today Monica Phillips is at the helm and Friendly House LA also operates with a board of directors guiding their ship. Their annual fundraiser will be Saturday Oct. 28 in LA (Miriam’s House as well) and will as honor three outstanding people.
Both of these nonprofits stand out as pioneers in the field and join other women leaders who understand the importance of providing a safe haven for women in need of recovery. It was Mrs. Betty Ford who was instrumental in publicly announcing that it was ok to speak about addiction and for women to receive treatment. Women scholars such as Stephanie Brown and Claudia Black, both of whom are social workers, addressed women and families in their work too.
In addition to exemplary centers like Miriam’s House and Friendly House, across the country there are facilities for women including Prototypes, New Directions for Women, Magnolia Landing, Awakenings, Grace’s Way, and Heritage House to name a few.
Moreover, women leaders are being heard across the behavioral health care field such as Rebecca Flood at New Directions for Women, Judith Landau at Arise, Heather Hayes with Unite for Ethics Now, Nanette Zumwalt and Josie Ramirez-Herndon with Admissions & Marketing, Lori Jean Glass focusing on relational attachment, Robyn Cruze specializing in disordered eating, Marsha Lindeham, Deidre Boyd at DB Resources, Marsha Stone CEO of BRC, Denise Klein CEO of Milestones Ranch, and Dana Killinger Taylor CEO of Magnolia Landing. And finally the Women’s Association for Addiction Treatment (WAAT), a group started with six women having lunch together discussing addiction treatment and has grown across state lines into a professional organization that meets monthly.
I invite all of my friends, family and colleagues to take the time and honor Miriam’s House and the Peggy Albrecht Friendly House for their support of women, mothers and their children. Moreover, if you are a female leader, know of one making a difference or a treatment center helping women, please post on this blog stories that honor women in recovery.
Celebrating women in recovery is a beautiful thing!
To learn more about Louise Stanger and her interventions and other resources, visit her website.