At any one point in time, there are a maximum of 13 mothers at Angel House who are taking the steps they need to maintain their sobriety, become self-sufficient, and be the parent that their children need and deserve.
While the number may seem relatively modest, this year, as Angel House celebrates its 30th anniversary, the Hyannis shelter has transformed the lives of an estimated 1,260 mothers and 960 children since its inception in 1991.
“In total, that is over 2,200 lives impacted and changed by the supportive, safe, secure program offered here,” said Facility Director Lin Rohr who has led the shelter since January 2015.
It’s a job that Rohr has found “richly rewarding and highly demanding,” she said. “I just love the opportunities the staff and I have to really walk with the mothers on their journey of recovery. It is such a powerful transformation when the women can do the work they want to do.”
The success stories at Angel House are plentiful.
Clients who graduated from Angel House shortly after Rohr first started, “still call me and they are sober and they have their kids and they have their apartment,” she said. “And the recent graduates, who have been sober for 13 months or 15 months, they call me and they have their kids and they have their apartment.”
At Angel House, Rohr and her staff get to experience the joy clients experience when they enroll in school or land a job. “We get to be a part of that,” Rohr said. “What is more valuable than to walk with people that way?”
ARC Framework a Powerful Tool to Supporting Clients
In 2012, Housing Assistance received a three-year grant from the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation to fund a trauma-informed care approach to treating the families at Angel House, using the ARC (Attachment, Self-Regulation, and Competency) framework. It has become an increasingly powerful tool for staff as they support mothers navigating the dual trauma of substance abuse and homelessness.
“The demanding part of this job is the field continues to change,” Rohr said. “When I started, fentanyl wasn’t even on the radar screen. Now it is a crisis. …We have to continue to educate ourselves as to what is out there, what is being used, how it’s being used, and why it’s being used in order to meet the women where they are and walk with them where they want to go.”
Unlike Housing Assistance’s other three shelters, Angel House is purposefully long – families stay there for 9 to 12 months – in order to ensure mothers and their children receive the support they need to achieve success once they transition into permanent housing.
In looking back at Angel House’s history, Rohr said, “it amazes me that 30 years ago Housing Assistance had a vision of wanting to help the most vulnerable. They recognized as an organization they could assist families to not only address their recovery, but other things that were lacking, whether it was through financial education, life skills education, or parenting education. It is phenomenal they thought that way.”
While the totality of what Angel House has achieved during its lifespan is impressive, Rohr and her staff prefer to focus on each individual who enters the program. “I get emails from clients, sometimes they were here six years ago, sometimes last year, and sometimes current clients, thanking me and the staff for what Angel House has done and is doing for them,” she said. “That just feels so good. It feels so meaningful to be part of something that is making such a difference for people and that changes lives.”