of each of the families they serve. “Generally, there is one child per family identified as the ‘target’ child who is the primary focus of the parenting education work throughout the year,” said Deborah. During the holiday season, every child in the family and each parent in the household receive at least one gift from Epiphany Center. “Because of the generosity of our donors and several local Catholic parishes, we are able to help make these parents and children feel special,” said Deborah. Children’s presents include educational toys and clothing, while moms and dads enjoy gift cards and household items such as blankets, towels, and kitchen items.
IN-HOME SERVICES BRINGS HOLIDAY SPIRIT Thanksgiving can be special for countless struggling families in our community as their lives are touched by Epiphany’s In-Home Services program. In-Home Services provides parenting education and support, and case management services for families with children ages newborn to five years who are at risk for abuse or neglect and for removal from their parents. Thanksgiving is a very special holiday for the parents and children served annually by Epiphany Center In-Home Services. To ensure moms and dads are able to create an enjoyable and memorable celebration for their families, staff from In-Home Services provide all of the fixings for their feasts. “Parents can choose the traditional turkey or chicken, and rice or potatoes to which we add all of the extras that create a traditional Thanksgiving meal: vegetables, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and more,” said Deborah White, Director of Epiphany Center In-Home Services. Distributed on the Thursday and Friday prior to the holiday, festive dinner baskets also include a complimentary children’s book for the little ones. In addition, at Christmastime, In-Home Services staff deliver gifts to every member
The population served includes some of the most vulnerable families in San Francisco. Recently the program has experienced an increase in the number of parents and children living in very small spaces. Eighty-five percent live in the most economically depressed areas of the city, in homeless shelters, rehabilitation facilities or transitional housing. “How could we not make the holiday season especially delightful for our clients?” said Deborah. Families are very grateful for assistance during what can be an especially challenging time. Epiphany Center’s tradition of holiday giving significantly enhances client engagement efforts and often solidifies their commitment to the program. Deborah continued, “Collecting, preparing, and delivering gifts to our families is an extra special time of year for staff. The sincere expressions of gratitude received from so many families in need seem to almost overwhelm our staff.”
“Spread love everywhere you go. Let no one ever come to you without leaving happier.” – Mother Teresa
YOUR HELP IS HIS HOPE A first time father, Chris, with an infant son “Owen” was referred to our In-Home Services SafeCare® program. SafeCare® is an evidencebased training curriculum for parents who are at-risk or have been reported for child maltreatment. Parents receive weekly home visits to improve skills in several areas, including home safety, health care, and parent-child interaction. Father had a history of substance abuse, and he was concerned about his ability to overcome substances and step into his new role as dad. (continued on pg. 2)
A MESSAGE FROM THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Dear Friends, As we move into the season of thanksgiving, this issue of the FOCUS reflects all the wonderful things we have to be grateful for at Epiphany Center. Our staff continue to support, encourage, inspire, and motivate positive changes in the lives of the children, women, and families we serve. There are exciting new directions for the future of the programs that will enable us to better meet the needs of the women who come to us to find their path to recovery. This fall will also mark a significant change at the agency as I leave and Sister Betty Marie Dunkel, D.C. becomes the Executive Director. It is with a heart full of gratitude that I reflect on the past 28 years at the agency. It has been a tremendous honor and privilege to work alongside so many dedicated and compassionate staff and collaborators through the years. The women, children and families we serve have been a great source of strength and inspiration and a special blessing in my life. Sister Betty Marie will bring many gifts and years of leadership experience to Epiphany Center. She has a long history with the agency, working as assistant administrator in the 1970’s and as a member of the Board of Directors. She brings a deep commitment to the mission of the agency and those whom we serve. We look forward to a smooth and seamless transition. Epiphany Center will always have a very special place in my heart. I will pray for God’s blessings on all those who come through our doors and for all our very generous and supportive benefactors who have been so faithful through the years and make all our services possible. With love and gratitude,
“It is not enough to do good, it must be done well.” - St. Vincent de Paul (continued from cover) “Upon meeting Chris, his commitment to his little son was clear,” said Christian Hernandez, In-Home Services Family Support Specialist. An intake that would routinely last 30 minutes ended up lasting one hour because of how lovingly he spoke about his son. Chris shared photos and videos, while talking about future plans. “Everything revolved around his son’s well-being. I even noticed framed images of the ultrasound, mounted in his small room,” said Christian. His biggest concern was giving his son Owen the opportunities that he never had, and Christian assured Dad she would be able to assist him in reaching his goal. When she explained the benefits of SafeCare® and how the program could positively impact him and the future of his child, he was more than eager to begin. During the sessions, when his phone would ring he would turn it off and refocus on the materials. Christian continued, “He gave me his full attention and effort. I started to develop strategies for him to connect the material directly to Owen, which ensured his success.” By creating story plots and scenarios, Chris was able to visualize himself more as a father, when sometimes he felt less able to do so as he did not have custody of Owen. Chris never missed a session and always asked questions. “From the beginning, I could see Chris was going to succeed. When he completed his first module, Health, he was overcome with joy and I could see he was very proud of himself. Chris’ hard work paid off and continues to as he recently learned he will be receiving 50 percent custody of his son. Now I see Dad shining brighter because of his joy in attaining a closer connection to his son. I look forward to walking alongside him on the path of SafeCare® and fatherhood,” said Christian.
CL I E NT C O R N E R L e t t e r of T h a n k s We are so grateful for our clients- present and past- whose courage and determination in the face of adversity inspire each of us every day. Enjoy this letter of appreciation from a graduate, Maria who came to the agency broken and lost, and left full of faith, hope and confidence.
Dear Epiphany Center, Thank you for loving me long enough until I could love myself. Thank you for caring for me enough to teach me how to care about myself. Thank you for providing me with a home, food, and healing so that I could learn to be a mother to my children. Thank you for taking good care of the place that will always be my home, Epiphany Center. When things take a turn for the worse in my life and the path of least resistance looks appealing, one of the reasons I have not gone down that road thus far is that I think of Epiphany and I think of how important you are to me. You have provided me with so much, given me so many opportunities to have a better life than I have ever known and the only way to show my gratitude is to do my best to live my life in a way that doesnâ€™t disappoint you. I do not know the person who spent day and night doing things that she never thought she would do so that she could shoot drugs in her veins so that the pain of her existence could go away, even for just a little while. That person who wanted to hurry up and die, who felt like she was unworthy of love, unworthy of the children she loved because she learned to love a needle in her arm more. The shame and disgust for herself made it easy to do things that only made it worse. What could be worth so much that losing your freedom is inconsequential? This person is only a part of my story, not the end of my story, thanks to you. And, the more that time passes, this person becomes an even smaller part of my story, go figure? Thank you for being instrumental in the direction of my sails. There are so many of us whose lives would not be the same without you! With love,
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Purposeful Peace Subsequent to receiving a federal grant approximately two years ago, the Epiphany Center Wellness Project, funded by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), has evolved to encompass the entire Epiphany culture. An unexpected outcome has been an expansion of a ‘spirit of wellness’ into not only the Epiphany Center clientele but also the staff! “There has been a remarkable change in the culture at Epiphany Center for both clients and staff,” said Suzi Desmond, Director of Adult Services. The consistent effort by everyone to adopt daily healthy habits, such as drinking water rather than soda, practicing deep breathing, and squeezing in 10,000 steps, has imbued the center with an elevated sense of purposeful peace and health. “Our clients continue to enjoy various holistic modalities including swimming, yoga, expressive arts therapy, vegetable gardening, drum therapy, morning boot camps and healthy cooking classes. Additionally, each client also receives a tailored Wellness Plan to assist her in achieving her unique goals. The Wellness Project has been a transformative initiative and I am confident of its permanency as we have now truly become a culture of wellness!” said Suzi.
Last year, Epiphany Center responded to a (RFP) Request for Proposal from the San Francisco Department of Public Health. “We excitedly submitted our vision of a comprehensive recovery campus, providing a full continuum of care thereby allowing clients to access a vast array of services throughout their recovery journey. We recently learned that our vision will come to fruition! We have been awarded our contract to expand and will soon offer a full range of services for women suffering from co-occurring addiction and mental health disorders.” said Suzi Desmond, Director of Adult Services at Epiphany Center.
NEW ONLINE TRAINING = At Epiphany Center, one of our Vincentian values is “compassionate care” which entails striving for excellence in both treatment planning and client outcomes. To manifest this value, staff need to be extremely well versed in the latest issues pertaining to our co-occurring clientele. In our ever changing landscape, we need to stay atop the best practices in substance use treatment, and we need to continually aim to incorporate evidence-based practices into our treatment of trauma and substance use disorders. Further, we need to stay apprised of the best screens for mental health disorders and the latest in therapeutic approaches.
“Through the generosity of our dedicated donors, we recently partnered with Relias Learning, an online resource which will allow Epiphany Center staff to access the latest in cutting edge information, literally at our fingertips,” said Suzi Desmond. Relias Learning provides an online training and compliance solution for human services and health care markets. Relias offers unrivaled content, while providing the ability to create a unique curriculum, including live training, and allowing for the demonstration of skill and performance, all in a singular, powerful learning management system. Relias has strong
RAM TO EXPAND “We are deeply grateful to have had our contract approved! We will now be able to not only provide a greater array of services, but we will also be able to serve an enhanced number of our city’s most vulnerable population of women and children.” said Suzi. Currently offering residential recovery for women suffering with co-occurring disorders, in the near future, the center will grow to include residential detox, outpatient services, and a residential step down track. Critical to establishing a sustainable recovery, these additional components will allow the agency to offer a multi-pronged approach to treatment.
EPIPHANY CENTER PARTNERS WITH STANFORD NEUROSCIENCES INSTITUTE Epiphany Center recently teamed up with nearby Stanford University to assist with research on the brain activity of individuals seeking treatment for stimulant (i.e. methamphetamines) drug use. The goal of the study is to understand the neural circuitry underlying the disease of addiction. The hope is that this new information will be able to aid in developing improved treatment methods for individuals seeking assistance with their addictions. Participants in the study will travel to Stanford University in Palo Alto and undergo a non-invasive MRI scan. During the scan, participants will view images of drugs, alcohol, food, and other objects, responding to questions regarding these images. University researchers will then observe participants’ brain activity during their time in the scanner and attempt to correlate it with behavioral measures to determine factors (interventions) that may assist in maintaining sobriety.
BETTER OUTCOMES partnerships with leading advocacy and professional organizations enabling them to create engaging, relevant, and timely learning experiences. Epiphany envisioned a learning management system that could improve compliance by streamlining training, increasing ease of access (online versus only in-person), and reminding staff of upcoming courses due. This includes increasing access to training, automatically tracking training, and making reporting a breeze. We also saw a need for expanded course topic content and more opportunities to fulfill licensure
requirements for licensed staff. Epiphany Center’s future Recovery Campus expansion creates the exciting possibility of adding 16 additional staff members. “Staff or, ‘talent development’ is a key component to outstanding client outcomes. We are able to ensure that our staff develop the required skills and competencies necessary to accomplish positive outcomes for the clients we serve. On behalf of our entire Adult Services team, I extend enormous gratitude to our donors for their generosity in bringing Relias Learning to Epiphany Center!” said Suzi
This research is funded internally through the Stanford Neurosciences Institute. The data and eventual findings will be published in academic journals for researchers and clinicians across the world. “It is exciting to contemplate that Epiphany Center clients will have a significant role to play in the creation of potential future treatment strategies for individuals struggling with addiction,” said Suzi Desmond, Director of Epiphany Center Adult Services.
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CHILD’S FIRST BOOK BROADENS HORIZONS Three Cheers for Volunteer Cheryl Who Shares Her Passion for Reading to Little Ones at Epiphany Center “In between dispensing advice on breastfeeding and immunizations, doctors will tell parents to read aloud to their infants from birth, under a new policy (from the) American Academy of Pediatrics. — New York Times You have been volunteering on behalf of the infants and children of Epiphany Center for a few years now. What inspires you about the agency? What initially drew me to Epiphany Center is the hope that the building and people represent. When I tell folks unfamiliar with the agency that I volunteer helping children at a women’s recovery center, they often initially remark how sad that could be, but I tell them it’s the opposite. The staff and moms are all striving for something better which makes it a very positive, special place. A place like Epiphany keeps children out of the foster care system. There are not many safety net programs for low-income women, let alone low-income mothers with substance abuse and mental health issues. A safe, uplifting space like Epiphany offers a much-needed haven where women can rebuild their lives for themselves and their children. I am inspired to be a part of a place where people are rebuilding, creating, and trying new things.
How long have you been volunteering at Epiphany and what initially brought you to the agency? I have been volunteering for nearly two years now. I first connected with Epiphany when I cochaired a holiday Head Start program where gifts were given to Epiphany Center. I thought it was interesting that the agency asked for jackets. So I checked out their website and was inspired reading about their mission to end the cycle of homelessness, poverty and substance abuse. Epiphany Center provides children and moms a palpably safe place where they can bond. Walking in the door, whether or not you are religious, you feel connected to spirituality here. It’s very peaceful and that’s what life is about. Although it is just one morning a week volunteering, I get so much out of it. It’s really wonderful to be able to have such tender relationships with the little ones.
I grew up around books. My mom was an avid reader. I felt a lot of comfort reading. I still love books and often head to Books Inc. in my neighborhood when looking for a tranquil, yet engaging environment. Reading has supported me in my life, and I want to share that love for books with the children. Reading books creates the ability to use their imagination as well as increases vocabulary. It’s an accessible way to expand their horizons. Not only do I read to the toddlers but also to the newborns. It is never too early to develop a love of reading. Additionally, it’s a great habit for the moms to establish early on in their relationship. Consistently reading for 15 minutes per day will go a long way toward familiarizing kids with words and numbers. What are your favorite books that draw in your little listeners? I really enjoy the series of Olivia books because she’s so sassy and a great role model. I also like Goodnight Gorilla; Happy Hippo Angry Duck; A Fish out of Water; and Have You Seen My Cat?
You are a strong advocate for both reading to the infants and encouraging our efforts to teach the moms to develop the habit of reading books to their babies and children. Why do you think this is so critical?
“Reading, as well as talking and singing, is viewed as important in increasing the number of words that children hear in the earliest years of their lives. Nearly two decades ago, an oft-cited study found that by age 3, the children of wealthier professionals have heard words millions more times than those of less educated, low-income parents, giving the children who have heard more words a distinct advantage in school.” – New York Times
M I S S I O N S TAT E M E N T Epiphany Center strengthens family life through programs faithful to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, rooted in Judeo-Christian values and the tradition of service of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Epiphany Center provides clientcentered care to a diverse population of women, children, and families, who are most vulnerable in our society. Our purpose is to strengthen family life and to enhance the physical, socialemotional, intellectual and spiritual growth of each person in our care. Our vision is to create a safe environment that reflects the belief that each person is created by God, is endowed with unique gifts, and is worthy of respect. We believe that
Pumpkin spice and everything nice, thatâ€™s what fall is made of!
our care for individuals enriches their present and future lives, the lives of their families and, through them, the community in which we live.
Chair Sister Marjory Ann Baez, D.C. Vice Chair Mrs. Brenda MacLean Secretary/Treasurer Sister Frances Vista, D.C. Members Ms. Tina M. Ahn Sister Margaret Louise Brown, D.C. Sister Trinitas Hernandez, D.C. Ms. Victoria Jones Sister Estela Morales, D.C. Deacon Eugene Smith Executive Director Sister Betty Marie Dunkel, D.C.
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no np rof i t o rga ni zat i o n U.S. POSTAGE PAID SAN FRANCISCO, CA PERMIT NO. 7744
mo un t s t . jo s eph â€“ st. elizabeth 100 Masonic Avenue, San Francisco, California 94118
Season of Gratitude Because of YOU, Epiphany Center is able to provide women and children a safe shelter, nutritious food, essential clothing, proper medical care - life necessities all of us need to survive. We are so grateful for partners like YOU, who, in so many ways make it possible for more women and children to walk the path from trauma to wholeness. Your gifts give hope to struggling families - HOPE for a brighter future, one filled with possibilities.
Wishing you and your loved ones a Happy Thanksgiving