St. Anne’s Homes was established in 1904 by the Anglican Church to shelter, care, and empower pregnant, destitute, abused, and disadvantaged mothers and their children. The vision of St. Anne’s Homes is to “to see women with children living free from abuse, poverty, and discrimination by offering the world a model of care and social empowerment.” St. Anne’s offers a variety of programs for women and children including childcare, life skill classes, therapy, and skills training classes.
During my time at St. Anne’s I have lead the workshops that take place twice a week. One day the workshop is a computer skills class in which the women learn basic typing skills, as well as simple Microsoft Office skills. The other workshops I help run include job training and searching, cooking, self esteem building, domestic violence therapy, and jewelry making. I have really enjoyed my time spent with the women living at St. Anne’s. Learning their stories and watching them grow through the skills programs has been extremely moving and has helped me connect with them on a deeper level. I have learned so much from the women at St. Anne’s including lessons of resiliency and the strength it takes to raise a family under disadvantage situations.
Amy Della Porta
St. Anne’s Homes is a shelter for homeless and abused mothers and their children. During the day, clients of St. Anne’s either work, or, if they’re unemployed, they attend workshops. Their children spend their days in the crèche or daycare. My primary responsibility at St. Anne’s is to teach workshops—one in the morning and one in the afternoon. In the morning, I teach a computer skills workshop. So far I have taught basic functions in Microsoft Word. In the afternoon I conduct poetry or music workshops. Sometimes St. Anne’s contracts people from outside businesses, such as beading shops or yoga studios, to conduct workshops, in which case I sit in. But usually for an afternoon workshop I will select a poem written either by an African American or South African female poet. I will prepare questions about the poem which encourage the women in the workshop to apply the themes and topics in the poem to their own lives. I use these workshops to initiate discussions about empowerment, motherhood, spirituality, and overcoming life’s challenges. I have also used music in workshops. Probably my most successful workshop was one in which I played songs with lyrics that are offensive towards women, and then songs with lyrics that empower women. I engaged the workshop participants in an interesting conversation about popular culture’s perception and treatment of women. Any workshop I conduct is crafted with the intention of making the clients at St. Anne’s aware of their potential and capabilities for overcoming obstacles. Because of the relationships I have formed with both clients and coworkers, my time at St. Anne’s has been extremely fulfilling.
St. Anne’s is a home for destitute and abused women and their children, and is honestly a wonderful place to work while doing your service learning. Unlike some of the other sites, where students are given one task, such as looking up research or gathering information for a survey, St. Anne’s has many different facets that allow for the use of many different talents, especially those on the more creative side. There is the administrative aspect, dealing with phones, paperwork, and general Human Resources issues, which is ground level entrance work for business students. There is the crèche, with children ranging from infants to 5 year olds, as well as the after school program for older children, both which are great practice for those looking to become teachers or work in any sort of child care profession. And then there are the ladies, the women coming to St. Anne’s to make something more of themselves, as well as seeking protection from those who have hurt them in the past. During skills training sessions, you can use your talents and share them with the ladies to empower them. The workshops I have done include computer skills training, budgeting, nutrition, baking, cooking, beading, drawing, resume writing, and more, all to help the ladies gain skills that can help them once they leave the home. No matter what your talents or interests, they can be put to work here (even the less conventional, as my friend and colleague’s yoga session proved). Dorothy, the amazing director of this organization, is open to ideas from volunteers, as she believes them to be what keeps the program continuing, changing, and from getting stale or boring, so meet with her, and let her know your skills and interests. All you need for St. Anne’s to be a wonderful experience is to have a little patience and a good work ethic, and you will have no problem, and will hopefully enjoy working at St. Anne’s as much as I did.
At St. Anne’s, I am currently working to support the women through economic empowerment training. I work with the women in groups and on a one-on-one basis to set employment goals, find jobs, do skill inventories, and address areas for further education. Additionally, we also work on professionalism and job skills, resume writing, and interviewing. Through these means, I help the women of St. Anne’s to begin the process of independence and their new lives. Additionally, by working in groups, the women are able to forge healthy and constructive bonds and learn to support each other.
At St. Anne’s Homes, I work closely with the intake worker as well as the women and children who stay there. We hold individual counseling and goal setting sessions for each of the women. I also facilitate several different workshops whose topics include computer skills, women’s rights, and mental health. I have also developed an expressive journaling project in which the women are encouraged to express their emotions through drawings and stories. Through the sessions and workshops, I have developed personal relationships with these brave women, as well as my colleagues.
At St. Anne’s I work in the Crèche/Children’s Project and Skills Training Program. I work in the toddler class and also teach a fine arts class to the After Care kids. I teach three classes once a week to kids ages 5-14 years old. My goal is to leave behind a file so that the program can continue once I return to the States. In the Skills Training Program I teach a sewing workshop to the adult residents. Our first project is to sew a blanket.