TWM Gives Back: The Gatehouse
There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle, poet Audre Lorde wrote, because we do not live single-issue lives
One in four women in the United States – nearly 90 percent of the women at the Gatehouse – have experienced intimate partner abuse, along with related severe economic uncertainty. But many survivors trying to leave find their financial support structure falls apart when the relationship does. Multiple barriers keep them from starting a new life to reach their God-given potential: financial problems or abuser-controlled money; legal or child-custody entanglements; and the lack of a career living wage job, reliable transportation, or childcare.
Social and economic models predict what we instinctively know: As abused women’s financial opportunities improve, they are better able to pull themselves and their families out of toxic relationships and situations.
The Gatehouse is not an emergency shelter or a transitional living program — we fill the gap in our community between short-term services and permanent self-supportiveness. We are a place and program where women and children leaving a crisis receive a hand up to discover a new path for permanent change.
Women in crisis take 3-6 months to make life-changing decisions, and emergency shelters offer only a temporary respite. Government-funded programs end after 18 months, not long enough to make a meaningful and permanent change before the cycle of abuse and homelessness begins anew.
Many agencies offer hope – we turn hope into reality by addressing all the interconnected barriers abused and disadvantaged women face to be mentally, physically, emotionally, and financially independent. We graduate emotionally and independent self-supportive women with sustainable career-path jobs, reduced or no debt, and ample savings. We turn hope into reality – leaving a legacy of earned success for future generations.
Women change the trajectory of their lives and the lives of their children through individualized services and practical resources with a team focused on removing barriers to success: We provide safety and basic needs with a plan to increasingly empower self-sufficiency; counseling to heal from trauma; access to health and wellness care; goal-based personal development with an emphasis on education and career-track employment; assistance with transportation needs; and resources to untangle the legal complexities of intimate partner abuse.
Every child, regardless of status or circumstances, deserves a chance to reach their full potential.
Gatehouse kids receive integrated tiered wrap-around services as part of their mom’s program goals to prepare for academic success, heal emotionally, and relate to others in healthy and trusting ways.
Children exposed to trauma during critical years of brain development are socially, economically, and educationally disadvantaged to their peers. Eighty-seven percent of our Members came from domestic abuse, with almost all experiencing economic hardship as well. Socioeconomically disadvantaged children entering kindergarten lag substantially not only in reading and math skills but also in noncognitive skills such as persistence and self-control, which also affect achievement throughout a person’s life. Without meaningful intervention, children exposed to toxic relationships and poverty put themselves and future generations at risk.
For Gatehouse moms, access to quality early learning and tiered wrap-around services positively impacts the lives of both mother and child by opening the door to self-sufficiency through continuing education and increasing workplace participation without the added burden of worrying about cost or the safety of the child.
Our self-paced program gives women and families ample time to rebuild their lives and establish financial stability and career employment. As Members progress through the three-stage program, they become increasingly responsible for their own finances and contribute toward certain program costs through a co-pay that gives them a sense of earned success.
- Phase I addresses complex trauma and instability each member feels as they begin their journey to a new life.
- Phase II empowers and reinforces newly acquired self-confidence, financial, educational, and career goals, and guides Members towards accomplishing long-term goals.
- Phase III prepares Members for financial and emotional independence and program graduation as they move toward their chosen career path.
Since most women leaving a crisis arrive with few belongings, Members stay at our 61-acre Gatehouse campus in 1-, 2-, or 3-bedroom furnished apartments with a stocked kitchen and bath with comforting aesthetic touches to welcome the new family. Two neighborhood-based Advisor Centers are the locus for counseling, group sessions, socializing, and other community activities. Members have not seen an apartment, the General Store, or Keeps until move-in day.
- During Phases I and II, Members receive a weekly “meal ticket” to shop at our General Store that not only provides basic food and household needs, but to also teaches budgeting and healthy meal planning.
- Gatehouse kids receive discounted high-quality childcare and student enrichment programs at the on-campus Legacy Early Learning Academy (LELA) to prepare children for lifelong educational and social success.
- Our on-campus clothing store Keeps Boutique provides new clothing as needed because appearances have a profound effect on self-esteem and confidence for work, school, court appearances, and interviews.
The Gatehouse has served 186 women with 71 graduations since opening in 2015.
Earlier this year we received a thank you card from a woman graduating from the Gatehouse Program:
“I always felt like I wasn’t [good] enough, but now I feel that I am worth something or else you wouldn’t invest so much in me.”
You can make an investment in hope, in dignity, and in a better future for North Texas women and children needing a hand up, not a handout.
- Donate time – Volunteers directly impact the lives of our Gatehouse families. A full list of opportunities is one our website at gatehousegrapevine.com/volunteers, or contact our Volunteer Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org. Join the Circle 58 Giving Circle of women who give women a hand up with their time, talent, and resources.
- Back to school – Help Gatehouse kids be ready and equipped for school by donating gifts to be used for school supplies and clothes. https://app.etapestry.com/onlineforms/projectHandUp/schoolclothes.html
- Support families – First Year Funders Giving Circle support families during their crucial first year at the Gatehouse. Adopt-A-Residence transforms one of our apartments into a home for a Gatehouse member while she works through the program. https://gatehousegrapevine.com/give/giving-circles/
Visit us at www.gatehousegrapevine.com to learn more about our programs and ways to help.
Robert Hillman is Grants Manager for the Gatehouse and is a reformed technology product executive in a previous life. He is a graduate of the one, true UT: the University of Tennessee, but he doesn’t correct Texans who assume he went to Austin. Robert met Warren Buffett at a Gatehouse event but didn’t ask for a stock tip.