story & photo
by Maren Schober
It is a fight. It is a struggle, but it is a program they believe in, that is changing them and giving them hope. That alone is enough to spur them on. Who are these strivers? The heart and soul of Bethsaida Community, the staff and the residents who live in the Katie Blair House.
Angela George, secretary, Board of Directors, opens the press conference at the Katie Blair House, Monday morning March 29th at 8:30am.
“We all know that we are in a recession and that Governor Rell is proposing stiff budget cuts out of necessity,” Angela tell us.
“Gov. Rell is proposing a $6,000,000 cut out of the Department of Social Services (DSS). Bethsaida annually receives over $55,000 from DSS and the loss of this state funding to us would be disastrous to our very existence.”
The Katie Blair House offers a supportive home environment for homeless women. On-site staff provides assistance with personal goal development and links the women to community services while the residents prepare for independent living. A structured program addresses physical and emotional health, relationship skills, mutual support, budgeting, time management, cooking and shopping skills, education and employment.
State Representatives Melissa Olson, Diana Urban, Christopher Coutu, Kevin Ryan and Betsy Ritter are all on hand and take their turns at the mic.
Cathy Zeiner, executive director, Women’s Center of Southeastern Connecticut, and Kathy Allen, executive director, Thames River Family Program, are also present. Similar programs at these agencies are in jeopardy.
Rep. Diana Urban sums up all their thoughts when she states, “I will fight for you and believe in you. This program works!”
One-by-one, four courageous residents take the mic and share what the Katie Blair program means to them. These residents also took days off from work to travel to the Capitol in Hartford with the same message.
“I came into this program out of a bad marriage filed with domestic abuse,” Delores tells us. “By the Grace of God I am a changed person because of living here and being in the program. This is a place of hope. This is my home!”
“I am a happy person,” Nakesha declares.”I just found out I will reunite with my daughter! I make friends in this place. It opens doors to me.”
“These friends are my family!” Jackie asserts.
“This is my home! These are my sisters!” Margaret states emphatically.
On top of a small end table sits a picture frame housing the Philosophy of Bethsaida Community. The words thereof seem to express what is in all their hearts. “I have been wounded by life. This woundedness can be a blessing for myself and for others – the foundation of understanding and compassion. Healing is a continual process to which I am committed. Healing can best be found in a community of friends.”
There is something we can do for these women. We can get in touch with our state representatives and tell then what we think about the financial cuts to DSS. We can make a difference.
Diana Urban can be reached by emailing Diana.Urban@cga.ct.gov or visiting her website www.housedems.ct.gov/Urban. To contact Christopher Coutu, email him at Christopher.Coutu@housegop.ct.gov or visit his website, http://repcoutu.com.