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Fall 2016

Uncovering the Power Within Epiphany Center offers Expressive Arts Therapy as part of our holistic clientcentered approach to recovery from substance use and trauma. Painting, drawing, sculpture, dance, music, drama, poetry and journaling are used to foster healing. This process allows women in recovery to explore, develop insight, and be transformed through the use of non-verbal communication, the artistic process, and embodied creative expression. “The women of Epiphany are amazing, each one has a unique way of expressing herself,“ comments art therapist, Roberta Wentzel-Walter MA ATR-BC. Clients noted their increased sense of inner peace and potential for the future. One said, I feel relaxed, refreshed, peaceful and balanced, like a woman of power! The world is my oyster!" Roberta leads an 8-week grief and loss workshop that consists of meditative practices, childlike drawing that has soothing effects on the brain, journaling, and other creative projects which help the women explore the stages of grief. “Sometimes painful memories are

hard to deal with. Typically people use drugs and alcohol to suppress negative feelings. Now that the women are in recovery, they can explore some of these feelings,” Roberta explains. Epiphany’s dance therapy classes focus particularly on areas of the body that are holding trauma. Through body awareness, the women are able to identify where there are areas of pain or joy. They learn to use the body as a medium of self-expression, and are empowered through movement. Sarah Lannon, MS R-DMT, Epiphany’s dance therapist, says this type of expressive arts helps clients to develop an increased sense of self-resiliency. Recovery Counselor Renae Johnson, MPS, PCCi, ATR, facilitates individual and group therapy with Epiphany Center’s clients. She works to explore their current state of recovery, and to help them heal from past wounds so they can meet their future goals. Renae appreciates Epiphany’s focus on compassion and creativity as an integral part of the recovery process. She emphasizes that, “the creative process

“Sometimes painful memories are hard to deal with. Typically people use drugs and alcohol to suppress negative feelings. Now that the women are in recovery, they can explore some of these feelings.”

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A Message from the Executive Director Dear Friends, The year is winding down and soon we will be in the midst of the holiday excitement. It is a blessing that the holidays begin with a season of change and thoughts of gratitude. This issue of the FOCUS centers around the gift of transformation. Art and dance lift the spirit and bring peace where there has been grief and sadness. The client story speaks of a deep and lasting transformation, and shows that healing from past pain is possible with an open heart and perseverance. At our recent reunion, graduates and former clients shared their stories, and we experienced just how alive and energetic transformed lives can be! We shared laughter and tears as they brought to mind the many ways that God’s healing has been present in their lives. The “healing hands” of Melissa and Dr. Clem is also about the transformation we all experience as we walk alongside the women on their journey to recovery, or with the children who are entrusted to our care and give us boundless joy, or with the families who trust us enough to let us visit them in their homes. There is much to be thankful for as we reflect on all that comes to us at Epiphany Center! Blessings,

Creator God, give us hearts brimming over with gratitude and thankfulness so that darkness cannot be present in our spirits, and there will be only peace and love!

Fall 2016

can serve as a tool for a lot of expression that clients don’t have words for. It provides a safe way for them to explore new territory. It’s a space where they can take ownership through creating, and find acceptance. This is a form of self-advocacy, which in turn builds self-confidence.” Renae knows that recovery is an individualized process for each woman. Her role is to help support self-efficacy through the tools that Epiphany Center provides. “I feel very honored that clients come in, trust me and start to do the work, even when it feels messy, because recovery is not always graceful. Seeing clients taking the reins themselves, digging deep within themselves, and just being a witness to that, it’s a beautiful thing.” Renae’s biggest challenge is helping women to understand just how to love and respect themselves. “It’s hard to get rid of old scripts, it’s hard to help them realize they have the power within, when everything they’ve been taught and shown tells them otherwise.” Epiphany’s clients have found Expressive Arts to be tremendously powerful. We hope that through the integration

“It’s hard to get rid of old scripts, it’s hard to help them realize they have the power within, when everything they’ve been taught and shown tells them otherwise.” of these diverse therapeutic techniques, our clients will experience healing which will then enable them to transcend a life of substance abuse, trauma and homelessness into a life of hope and possibility for a full future.


finding a balance:

Recovery & Motherhood Almost 10 years ago Gwen* entered Epiphany’s doors with the dream of getting her young daughter back in her life. Today, Gwen lives a life that she never realized was possible. She manages a leading pain management corporation and is able to watch her daughter grow into a talented, beautiful young woman. Gwen is still giving back to the community by sharing her experience, strength and hope with you: It was 2007. My life was a mess. I was just swallowed up in depression, medicating and keeping myself numb. I remember my last day on the streets I was watching people walking to work, with their suits and briefcases. I couldn’t stop wondering, “Why can’t I just be normal? Where did I go wrong?” I was lost, depressed, sad and stuck. Finally I had enough, I was done. I walked into a treatment program crying, “please help me, I can’t do this anymore, I need help”. I transferred to Epiphany’s recovery program because I needed to start the reunification process with my child, who was then living with my sister. I needed a program that was more family-oriented. The difference between recovery programs is drastic.

The things that are offered here at Epiphany Center, you can’t find anywhere else, period. A lot of recovery programs are workbased, and that’s fine, but Epiphany’s program is structured around recovery, and that’s what I needed. They had me in group four days a week, we attended eight 12 step meetings a week, I worked the steps with a

sponsor, and received individual and family therapy. Because I was a victim of domestic violence, they helped me get specialized therapy. The trauma I experienced from domestic violence created a lot of fear and anger. I can remember waking up in a hospital with my eyes swollen shut. A cop who was there told me that he didn’t know how I was still alive. So many things were going on inside me that had never been addressed before Epiphany Center. I took advantage of all the services offered, and they also helped me get outside services. Eighteen months later, I went back to school, got an internship and then a career.

I truly love Epiphany Center. I purposely drive by the Broderick St. residence where I lived every day on my way to work. It’s a reminder of where I came from, and how grateful I am to be where I am today. I always wonder, would I have made it without Epiphany? Today, my life is good. Now I have that “normal life” I always wanted. But I still go to meetings, I share my story with other women, and I strive to be of service. I have a stable job with a good salary. I’m still a single mom but I don’t need child support, section 8 or welfare—I used to need those things, but not anymore. I’m totally self-sufficient.

My life couldn’t appear to be more normal, but I still have challenges. I don’t have to take medicine to manage my depression anymore. Instead I’ve learned to pay attention to my emotions, to do regular self-check-ins and reflect and practice self-care. I’m safe, I’m secure. I’ve mended my relationship with my sister, and we are now best friends. And most of all, my daughter is okay, and she’s not mad at me. She was afraid I was going to die, and now she knows I’m okay. Now my focus is finding that balance between motherhood and my recovery. My daughter is a juvenile diabetic and requires a lot of care. It’s challenging with my work schedule and overtime hours, but I make it work. My daughter is thriving, she’s been accepted into a prodigious arts school for vocal performance.

Recovery means life. Epiphany Center gave me my life back. I didn’t think I’d live past 50 years old. Now I am 50 years old and I’m about to buy my own house. I never expected my life to be this good, and it still keeps getting better. I can’t ever throw that away. If there’s a woman out there struggling like I was, I wouldn’t just recommend Epiphany Center--I’d offer her a ride there.

*not her real name

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FOCUS feature

epiphany ' s

Healing Hands The walls of Epiphany Center’s Pediatric Clinic are covered in photos of smiling faces. Children of all ages, happy families, and life-long patients--these photos are a testament to the compassionate care that Dr. Clem Donahue, MD and Melissa Belbahri, NP have provided since 1995. In 1997, Dr. Clem was invited to join Epiphany’s clinic, a satellite of San Francisco General. Melissa joined in 1999 when she was looking for a weekend job during her Bachelor’s studies, and has since become the Nurse Coordinator. Together the pair form a dynamic duo, keeping more than 50 children healthy each year. Since their partnership began, they have conducted over 4,250 clinic visits. Many kids grow from infancy to adulthood under the care of Dr. Clem and Melissa. It’s not long before they are both whipping out their phones to proudly show off photos of their own kids—these two are champions for children! “Believe it or not I’m from Mississippi, but I moved to Berkeley when I was five years old”, says Dr. Clem, from a family of medical professionals. Melissa is from northern California, though her family has East Coast roots. Both share a fiercely proud Irish heritage, and get their families together for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. They cook an Irish feast of corned beef, cabbage, and potatoes each year for Epiphany staff and clients, and they include an Irish history lesson! Dr. Clem’s sense of humor and Melissa’s patience go hand in hand to create a humble partnership that has stood the test of time. We had the chance to hear from them both on their longevity of service and the quality of connection they are able to establish with patients and their families. Fall 2016

Why pediatrics at Epiphany?

Dr. Clem: Because kids are fun and cute! And it’s empowering to help these women learn to take care of their kids. Melissa: It is really the family setting that I love. If we can make a difference for just one mom and her child who come through our doors, then that difference carries over into the next generation. More often than not a mom in recovery will bring her child back to Epiphany’s Pediatric Clinic even after they’ve moved on from Epiphany’s Recovery program. Dr. Clem: Sometimes the babies we see grow up and bring their own babies to us. Melissa: It’s wonderful, it’s old fashioned-Dr. Clem: It’s multigenerational! Melissa: It’s community care that we often don’t see in big cities anymore.

Why do families keep coming back?

Melissa: I think one reason is because we don’t judge them. We are just happy they are bringing their children to us. I always have hope for them. It’s my belief that these moms love their kids and want to do a good job, but just need a little help doing it. Dr. Clem: They know they will be taken care of here. Melissa: I love working with this population. I have great admiration for the moms and dads I work with, and for women in recovery.

Biggest Reward?

Dr. Clem: It’s easy to be inspired by their stories of wanting to better their lives for their children. I get really inspired when parents are doing well, and can recognize their addiction for what it is and learn to behave differently for their kids. It’s a blessing for us. Melissa: Definitely. Seeing the families grow and remain together as a family unit is my biggest reward. Stable families create stable communities, and that’s what we all want.

Dr. Clem: Seeing the women doing service for others is also a great reward. We had a client go on to graduate from college with her B.A. in social work. Her family is still together and she’s giving back to her community. Melissa: I remember one client who was very poor, but she came in one day and wanted to send money overseas to mothers in Afghanistan after hearing their plight. I was amazed at her ability to see beyond her own struggles. Dr. Clem: You wouldn’t believe some of the horror stories our clients have lived through, and the trauma, but somehow they are able to rise above it.

Biggest Challenges?

Melissa: I love these families, I really do. But I don’t always love the paperwork. Dr. Clem: Missed appointments are frustrating, but it’s just part of the job. A good sense of humor helps.

What motivates you?

Dr. Clem: I’m inspired by the energy of my peers who are enthusiastic about helping people, it’s cathartic and sets off a chain reaction of motivation for our mission. I also love how real our families are at Epiphany. Melissa: Epiphany families! Seeing them getting out of poverty, getting an education, and bettering their lives.

What changes have you seen over the years?

Dr. Clem: There’s been a change in the demographics of clients, we are much more diverse racially and ethnically now. Melissa: There’s also a change in the substances used over the years. Right now we see a lot of variety in usage, and a combination of different substances.

What’s the best part of working together all these years?

Melissa: Clem is non-judgmental, and he’s got a great sense of humor. We have fun with the families and the kids love him! Dr. Clem: We’re like brother and sister. It’s awesome. We share the same morals and similar energy towards society. We also have similar parenting styles, I ask for advice about my own kids. We have that sort of dynamic.

Fun fact?

Dr. Clem: I like old cars, I started racing again. Melissa: I’m a country music fan. I love Merle Haggard, shhhhh!!

Celebrating a Century of Giving California pioneer John Kelly was a shrewd investor. This once friend and gardener to United States Senator Leland Stanford accumulated a small fortune through speculation in bonds, stocks and swampland certificates. Having no heirs, he left his entire estate to orphanages in San Francisco. His will established the John Kelly Orphan Fund, enabling his assets to be managed in perpetuity for the sole purpose of providing continuous, annual gifts to several charities, Epiphany Center (Mt. St. Joseph-St. Elizabeth), among them. December 1st marks the centennial of Mr. Kelly’s death, and the beginning of his legacy of hope and healing for children and families we celebrate to this day. His spirt of personal giving furthered a tradition that has been the hallmark of the Epiphany Center since the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul arrived here in 1852. Such planned gifts are among the most cherished. Whether through trusts, life insurance policies or qualified fund balances, these bequests help guarantee a future for Epiphany Center’s mission to break generational patterns of addiction, homelessness, and domestic violence. As you ponder your own estate planning choices, will you kindly consider following in Mr. Kelly’s footsteps? Epiphany Center honors those who choose to remember our work in their estate plans as members of the St. Louise Legacy Society—named in recognition of Louise de Marillac who, along with St. Vincent de Paul, founded the Daughters of Charity in 1633. So please join the St. Louise Legacy Society and make an ever-lasting impact on the children and families of tomorrow.

For more information: (415) 351-4055 or info@TheEpiphanyCenter.org epiphany center | 5


8 th A nnual

Celebrating Mothers Luncheon An Afternoon To Remember On May 4th, 2016, friends, family, and community members joined co-chairs Terry Keyes and Brenda MacLean and the Epiphany League, as we gathered at the St. Francis Yacht Club to honor the amazing women in our lives. We braved chilly winds for a fabulous courtyard silent auction, featuring a vast array of items donated by community supporters including the Bay Club SF, Nob Hill Spa, SoulCycle, Aquarium of the Bay, Harris’ Restaurants, The Laurel Inn, U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein and many more. We enjoyed a delicious lunch on the water with stunning views of the Golden Gate Bridge over the Bay, a spectacular orchid sale, and Epiphany's very own first-ever boutique of specialty items. Guests delighted in perusing items for sale while greeting friends both new and old. The highlight of the afternoon, as always, was the profound speech given by a former Epiphany graduate in recovery. As she told her story of ups and downs, not a single person in the audience could doubt her extraordinary transformation. We were reminded of the many reasons why we give our service and support to Epiphany Center's families. Spring is a powerful time of growth and renewal--what a perfect Spring day to remind us just how much change is possible, together. This year’s Fund A Need was in support of Epiphany’s plans to remodel the children’s play yard with a new play structure, trike path and softer ground material.

Because of your generosity we were able to raise an additional $14,000 towards making our new play yard dreams come true! It was certainly an afternoon to remember, as we celebrated exceptional women everywhere. We give our most sincere gratitude to the women of the Epiphany League for their hard work and enthusiasm in orchestrating such a memorable event. We also thank our silent auction contributors, sponsors, donors, volunteers, supporters, and our friends and family.

Special thanks to Pamela Lucas for the stunning photographs!

Fall 2016

We couldn’t do it without Y-O-U. Thank you! We look forward to seeing you next year!




Epiphany Center strengthens family life through programs faithful to the beliefs of the Catholic Church, rooted in JudeoChristian values and the tradition of service of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul. Epiphany Center provides client-centered 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, social-emotional, 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

Dancing is for Fun

is created by God, is endowed with

‌so think Valerie and Carolyn shown posing with their instructor, Adrienne Elaine

Photo: The Monitor, December 16, 1965

unique gifts, and is worthy of respect. We believe that our care for individuals enriches their present and future lives, the lives of their families and, through

Save the Dates DEC 6


them, the community in which we live.

MAY 11



Benefit Show & Party

Sister Carol Padilla, D.C. VICE CHAIR

Mrs. Brenda MacLean

O’ Christmas Tea

Celebrating Mothers Luncheon


Sister Frances Vista, D.C. MEMBERS

Ms. Tina M. Ahn Sister Betty Marie Dunkel, D.C.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Epiphany Center 1pm

The Family 6pm

St. Francis Yacht Club 11:30am

Sister Margaret Ann Gainey, D.C. Sister Trinitas Hernandez, D.C. Ms. Victoria Jones Deacon Eugene Smith EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Sister Estela Morales, D.C.

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no n p rof i t o r gan i z at i on U.S. POSTAGE PAID SAN FRANCISCO, CA PERMIT NO. 7744

m o u n t s t. jos eph – st. eliz abeth 100 Masonic Avenue, San Francisco, California 94118


O’ Christmas Tea Tuesday, December 6 1 PM to 5 PM

Holiday Boutique, Afternoon Tea & Guest Speaker

Tea hats and pearls are encouraged but not required!

Tickets may be purchased online at TheEpiphanyCenter.org or 415.351.4055 rsvp by november 30

For more information, visit TheEpiphanyCenter.org or call (415) 351-4055

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Epiphany Center Fall 2016 FOCUS Newsletter  

Epiphany Center Fall 2016 FOCUS Newsletter  

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