HOUSTON - If you’re doing a little spring cleaning, over what may be a rainy weekend, some area non-profits would love to have what you no longer need, because COVID has kept a lot of people from giving.
Due to the pandemic, donations are way down and the need for services is up. So the Houston Women’s Home on Westheimer is happy to accept whatever you can give.
"It really was a huge shock and a huge hit. We’ve had to pivot so drastically. We help women with mental health and substance abuse disorders. We run a long-term treatment facility for them. So the women are able to stay for up to 18 months," explains The Women’s Home Chief Development Officer Julie Comiskey.
"I got in there completely broken. I had no job, no car. I lost my kids. I was heavily addicted to opiates. I had suffered an overdose, a pretty bad one that almost killed me," says Deirdre Sutor who is a successful graduate of The Women’s Home.
Sutor, who’s now in Marketing, was a Microbiologist in graduate school when she became addicted to drugs.
"I had gone to the doctor. I had hurt my jaw and they gave me some medication and I just got hooked on it. I never stopped using. I went to different doctors, started getting arrested for writing my own prescriptions. I remember waking up in the morning and the first thing on my mind was not feeding the baby or getting dressed or paying a bill. It was how can I get high."
After using for ten years and trying four other treatment centers, 16 months at The Women’s Home changed Sutor's life. She’s now reunited with her husband and kids.
"I immediately found a job, which I’m still working here. This was almost three years ago and I’ve maintained four years of sobriety."
So clothing, for instance, donated to The Women’s Home may go to a woman like Deirdre.
"When I got in I had like a pair of jeans and these ugly purple sweat pants and they give you everything to kind of put yourself in a daily routine of getting dressed, getting up, making your bed," Sutor explains.
"People don’t think sometimes about some of the items you might need, such as shampoo and soap and toothbrushes and toothpaste. So we need all of those donations," adds Comiskey.
Money is also welcome and donations that don't go directly to the ladies is sold in their Cottage Shop thrift store.
"The Cottage Shop allows us to take in items such as clothing, home goods, accessories, things of that nature, and we sell them and then all those proceeds go directly back into our programming," explains Comiskey.
"There’s no other place like it. From experience going through so many treatment centers, there’s no place that will provide everything for you for such a long time," says Sutor.
Also because of the pandemic, The Women’s Home is down to accepting donations just two days a week, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
The Women’s Home also teaches things such as job training, financial responsibility, and has two apartment complexes used for long term housing, plus a community center that offers, "Counseling, AA meetings, Art Therapy. We have Zumba there, yoga classes. We have a computer lab. Our mission is to build communities that strengthen and support families as they reclaim their stability. We offer them spiritual health, as well and social health. All of those things are so important for a woman to be able to live the life that she wants and deserves to have," explains Comiskey.
"The woman that I became afterwards was just such a far cry from who I was when I got in. I mean, I had a baby and a month later I walked out the door to go use and overdosed and my husband had to raise him. The overdose left me unable to walk, incontinent. I had no idea who the baby was. My husband would bring the baby to the hospital and I was like who’s baby is that? After the overdose, I entered a drug induced psychosis for two months and was just, I thought I was sitting in an airport waiting for flights to arrive. We laugh about it now, but it wasn’t a laughable matter when it happened, you know, scary. The Women’s Home did change my life," says Sutor.