Since 1977, mothers and children who have been victims of domestic violence and have sought refuge at an emergency shelter are referred to Good Shepherd Shelter. Our focus is on mothers with young children who are ready to commit to our comprehensive program, designed to promote healing, independence and a pathway to the fulfillment of their dreams. The core of our program focuses on developing the mother as a “person, parent and provider” as well as therapeutic and educational support for her children. Each family at the Good Shepherd Shelter lives in one of our twelve individual apartment units. These family apartments provide privacy, space and safety and give the mother an opportunity to “practice” being a single parent. She can establish a new family routine and give each child the time and attention needed to feel secure. Mothers attend classes in family health and nutrition, parenting, first aid, self-defense, stress and money management, computer training and job acquisition skills. Some receive tutoring to meet a special need or goal, such as a GED. With staff support, the mothers establish their own families’ goals in an atmosphere of security and growth.
The preschool on campus gives younger children a safe environment that promotes self-expression, autonomy, and develops a positive sense of self-worth – all directed at helping them to heal and experience a normal childhood. In addition to the preschool, Children’s Learning Center provides transferable credits for K-5 and small learning groups tailored to meet these children’s special needs. With the emotional turmoil of a violent household, many are below grade level and often have emotional, behavioral and learning difficulties. Through individualized attention and special activities, the children rebuild their self-esteem and have a positive school experience. The mothers are taught how to assist them with homework, support and sustain their academic and personal efforts. The therapeutic program for the children includes individual and group therapy that seeks to repair the emotional and psychological damage caused by the violence perpetrated by someone who was supposed to be their protector in their own homes. A safe environment is created in which each child is able to freely express their feelings, learn coping skills to deal with trauma and appropriate communication methods that will break the generational cycle of domestic abuse.
Because Good Shepherd Shelter is funded only through private funding, each family’s stay is determined only by their needs and participation in the program, not by any predetermined mandates from an outside funding agency. The mother meets with the staff at regularly to discuss short-term and long-term goals for herself and each of her children and how we can assist her in meeting those goals. The average length of stay is 12 months.
When they are ready to relocate to the larger community, they are encouraged to establish a support system in their new location. No matter where a Good Shepherd Shelter family may live, the staff is always ready to offer assistance in any way possible to help families make a successful transition.