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Hope for the holidays: Building Futures with Women and Children

Submitted by on 1, November 25, 2008 – 11:00 amNo Comment

Vezelda Allen has struggled with drugs and domestic violence and was bouncing from hotel to hotel until about six months ago, when she finally decided she had enough. She called Building Futures with Women & Children’s crisis line, 1-866-A-WAY-OUT. It was the first step toward turning her life back around.

Allen has spent nearly six months at Midway Shelter, which became a home for her and the place where she got help she needed to move her life in a better direction. She said shelter manager Monique Houston and caseworker Mahkayla Henry helped her see a therapist and a debt manager, helped her to graduate from a parenting class and helped her get on Section 8 waiting lists in the Bay Area and beyond.

“They just basically helped me organize my time,” Allen said. She also credits Houston and Henry with helping her maintain a positive relationship with her 6-year-old son.

The pair even held a baby shower for Allen, who is pregnant with twins who are due in January.

Their efforts helped Allen gain the self-esteem she needed to move forward on her own. Largely through her own persistence, she has secured a three-unit place at Alameda Point Collaborative, which she plans to move into in December.

“I’m a little bit excited. I’ve got my own (place),” she said. “I feel really blessed.”

From there, her goals are to take care of her twins and to go back to work, ultimately in the medical field, where she has worked as a medical assistant. Allen also hopes to go back to school to become fluent in Spanish. And she thinks that someday, she’d like to become a staffer at Midway or Building Futures, in order to help other women like herself.

“They’re just a great organization. For those that need it, they’re there,” Allen said. “Hopefully they’ll stay around a long time.”

Building Futures runs Midway Shelter and Bessie Coleman Court, which offers both transitional and permanent housing on the former Alameda Naval Air Station. They also have a crisis line, two additional East Bay shelters, a children’s program, domestic violence counselor training and an array of support services.

In addition to cash donations, their holiday wish list includes:

Women’s Items: Nightgowns/pajamas (from small to 3X; they’re looking mostly for large-2X), slippers, umbrellas, refillable water bottles, flashlights and batteries, scarves, hats, gloves, movie gift cards, Target gift cards

Children’s Items: Action figures, dolls of color, toy cars and trucks, art supplies, balls and outside toys, character nightlights, nightgowns/pajamas (toddler to adolescent sizes), slippers, underwear and socks

Teen Items: Electronic/music devices, umbrellas, flashlights and batteries, scarves, hats, gloves, Target gift cards

The group is also looking for community, business, service or faith groups who can deliver Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner to its shelters.

To make a donation or conduct a gift drive, contact Building Futures’ Denise Kaplan at 357-0205, ext. 114 or at dkaplan@bfwc.org. We’ve also got a link for Building Futures in our Hope for the holidays box, top right.

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