I’ve been volunteering at Amethyst Place for more than five years now. If you’re not familiar with Amethyst Place, it’s AMAZING.
Amethyst Place is a home for women who are recovering from substance addiction. They move into an apartment that is their very own. And they can raise their children there, as well. As a condition of their stay, they must remain sober, meet with a counselor, attend school, and/or maintain employment while living there.
They serve more than 50 families and over 100 children each year.
Per their website: “A family who is accepted into the program receives 24 hour supervision, collaboration with community based case managers, as well as on-site therapy in a supervised drug-free environment. Each resident develops her own individualized treatment plan in conjunction with a treatment team made up of case managers, DSS workers, and therapists and must work, go to school or attend drug treatment at least 20 hours per week.”
What’s The Situation For An Amethyst Place Family ?
The typical women who lives at Amethyst Place is 30 years old, raising two children under seven years of age. The women often have no more than a high school education and their family lives on less than $10,000 per year.
The women generally have a background where they were in foster care and/or ran away from home as a child. This is often because they grew up in a family with a history of drug and alcohol addiction.
Most of the women — as well as many of their children — have suffered significant trauma prior to their stay at Amethyst Place. About 90% of the women are dually diagnosed with substance abuse and a severe mental illness and 70% of the children have a history of foster care or other placement not with their mother. Women with a history of sex trafficking, as well as women recently released from prison or on probation make up a significant percentage of the residency.
They have an amazing staff that guides the women through the trauma of their past and their current everyday challenges while fighting their addictions. Many times their apartment is the first home that the ladies have ever had. As long as they follow the guidelines, they can stay there as long as they feel they need to get their lives back on track. The apartments are furnished with donations, which the women can take the furniture with them when they graduate from the program.
How Did You Get Started Helping Amethyst Place?
One of my mom’s best friends is Kim Davis, the current Executive Director of Amethyst Place. Kim let my mom know that there was a need for someone to decorate the apartments and to keep the donations organized. Work groups volunteer to decorate the apartments, but it was nice for Kim to have someone to call on when an apartment needs to be ready right away. Some of the women are coming directly from shelters and it can be last minute when they know for sure that someone is on their way.
That is where my mom and her friends came in. They call themselves The Inferior Decorators. But if you walk into one of the apartments they have decorated, you know that it is far from inferior. It’s not just how they put a living room together, but the feeling you have when you enter the room.
You can just feel the love.
I have assisted with many apartments in the past. Not as many right now because my days at work changed to the day that they go. Anyway, I really miss it and will try and go whenever possible.
What Do You Enjoy Most About Helping at Amethyst Place?
Kim pretends to live in the apartment, answers the door, and we look around and admire the home that we just made for a very deserving woman. I don’t like to leave there unless I feel like I could be happy living there.
Unfortunately, we are not usually there when the ladies move in. As I mentioned earlier, it can be last minute when the staff finds out exactly when they will be arriving. Though I have been there a couple of times when the families arrived, and I will tell you that there is not a dry eye in the place.
The one I remember the most is a woman who began crying as soon as she walked in and she kept repeating “is this really all mine.” Then she walked in to the bedroom that we decorated for her two girls and she just broke down saying, “this is for my girls…they are going to be so happy.”
What Goes Into Decorating an Amethyst Place Apartment?
We make the beds, hang pictures, set up the kitchens with all of the essentials, find just the right toss pillows for the floral couch that was donated…you name it we do everything to make it a home.
These ladies are about to partake in probably one of the most challenging times of their lives and we can at least set-up a nice comfortable home to get them started. I admire these women so much because it takes a lot of bravery to stop and say, enough, I’ve got to turn my life around.
They are definitely putting themselves in very loving and capable hands with the staff.
How Can Others Help?
The website lists many ways to help, from mentoring the moms to donating that area rug in your dining room that you have been wanting to replace. A good childhood friend of mine who is a yoga instructor visits regularly to teach the women and the staff yoga.
They also hold fun events like the inaugural Bingo on the Boulevard, which just happens to be at Boulevard Brewing Co. We will be there Friday playing bingo and raising money for the deserving moms at Amethyst Place.