When Linda came to Wellspring she was pregnant and sleeping in her friend’s car with her daughter. She was frustrated and tired and did not have hope that things could get better. Linda was having a difficult time being the kind of mom she wanted to be to her daughter as she was stressed, hungry and isolated.
The family began working with a Wellspring Housing Specialist who immediately helped place them in a motel. It had been at least a year since Linda and her daughter had slept in a bed, and they literally had no other housing options.
The stability of a routine – eating, sleeping, and showering – helped Linda feel more confident in her abilities. Working with her Housing Specialist, Linda began searching for employment. She quickly found a job, enrolled her daughter in school, and started getting the prenatal care she so desperately needed. She also began to realize that it was okay to ask for help. As part of a financial plan to care for the future of her family, she learned how to access food banks and baby cupboards as needed during the transition.
Linda’s Wellspring Housing Specialist referred her to housing, and she is close to moving in with her family. She has plans to finish school and is excited about pursuing a career that will allow her to provide for herself and for her children.
The support that Linda received was a critical stepping stone. With their basic needs met, Linda’s parenting skills and her connection with her daughter improved. With the support for her Wellspring Housing Specialist and minimal assistance, Linda was able to replace thoughts of survival with a sense of hope for the future.
When four-year-old Joey started at the Wellspring Early Learning Center (“ELC”), his family was experiencing homelessness.
During his first few months in the ELC, it was clear that Joey was academically high-functioning, bright, and capable. He had developed a strong vocabulary for his age, and could easily understand new concepts. But at the same time, Joey was consumed by overwhelming emotions that stemmed from the stress and trauma of his early environment.
He appeared anxious in the classroom, and had a difficult time reading social cues. He would throw frequent tantrums that included crying, kicking, and pushing. Unable to identify an environmental trigger, Joey’s teachers requested the support of Wellspring’s in-classroom therapist. After several sessions together, Joey shared that “he felt like he was burning inside, like fire.”
Joey’s Wellspring therapist began to incorporate sensory therapy integration into her intervention strategies by working with Joey to “calm the fire” by drinking a glass of water. Slowly, Joey began to associate the physical act of drinking a cold glass of water with extinguishing the fire. After several months, Joey was showing signs that he was learning to regulate his own emotions. When he started to feel the fire inside, he learned to remove himself from the situation and go – on his own – to the sink for a glass of water, take a time out, and then join his classmates once the fire was gone.
After several months of therapeutic intervention and Wellspring’s in-classroom therapist working in close collaboration with ELC teachers – Joey’s behavior shifted and his experience changed. Once he learned how to regulate his emotions, his teachers observed him develop friendships with the other students. He was able to express his ideas clearly and articulate his thoughts. He appeared calm, thoughtful, and was capable of regulating his own emotions in a healthy and positive way.
When Joey arrived at the ELC, the behaviors he exhibited would likely have had him suspended or expelled from a public kindergarten classroom. When he left the ELC, he was able to demonstrate all of the skills needed to be successful in kindergarten, which he will start this Fall.
Marta arrived at Wellspring's Baby Boutique the morning after fleeing a domestic violence situation with her children. Marta had found safety for herself and her five children – including a newborn – at an emergency shelter, but they had not had time to pack any of their belongings, and had nothing but the clothes they were wearing.
When she arrived to shop at the Baby Boutique, she was visibly shaken and exhausted from the trauma. She also appeared nervous, and shared that she did not have experience accessing free services. Several times during her visit, she was escorted to a quiet room where she could cry in private.
During the several hours she spent in the Baby Boutique, her anxiety turned to relief when she learned the extent of what the store provided. She was able to find everything she needed, just as she would in a retail store – including supplies, gear, and clothing – for her newborn. She was also able to pick out a week of outfits for her two teenage daughters, who were nervous about showing up at school in the same clothes. When she left, she displayed her gratitude by saying “this makes such a big difference while we figure out what happens next.”
Ada, a young mother of four, began receiving services from Wellspring Parent Child Services (“PCS”) while living in a shelter with her family. Ada’s husband had been recently deported, and she had been struggling to keep her home on her individual salary. She was working long hours as a hair stylist, which left little time to care for young children. The family was severely impacted and Ada did not know where to turn for help.
When Ada was referred to Wellspring, she began working with a Wellspring Housing Specialist while her two youngest children attended the Wellspring Early Learning Center (“ELC”), including her three-year-old daughter, Kimberly. During Kimberly’s time at the ELC, her teachers began to notice several developmental and behavioral concerns, and recommended to Ada that her daughter receive further evaluation from a Wellspring therapist.
Ada and her Wellspring therapist started meeting weekly so Ada could learn more about her daughter's developmental delays and behavior and have a space to process her own emotions. Throughout the course of the therapeutic work, Ada demonstrated great interest and focus on improving her relationship with her daughter and finding ways to support her development.
During this time, Kimberly was also being evaluated for developmental delays. After the evaluation was complete, the doctors met with Ada and explained that Kimberly’s behavior displayed characteristics of autism. Ada responded with a positive attitude, and shared that she was determined to get her daughter the help that she needed with the support of her Wellspring therapist, the school district, and the Autism Clinic.
Last month, Kimberly completed her first school year in a developmental preschool. During Ada’s final teacher-parent conference of the year, Kimberly’s teachers highlighted all of her new skills. Ada’s Wellspring therapist also attended the meeting, and highlighted all of the work that Ada had done to implement new teaching and discipline strategies at home, to help support her daughter’s success in the classroom.
Through hard work, determination, and the support she received from Wellspring, Ada’s parenting skills grew as she gained a new level of insight about her child’s social and emotional needs. She also learned new ways of responding to Kimberly based on her diagnosis, and reports an improvement in the quality of her relationship with her daughter.
Neil came to Wellspring’s Domestic Violence Intervention Program (“DVIP”) after a public act of violence. When he arrived at Wellspring for orientation, Neil saw a new opportunity emerge. As Neil recalls, “I met a therapist that first day who I knew was going to push me, hold me accountable, and not treat me with kid gloves.”
When Neil was encouraged to consider what he wanted to get out of the program, he realized he had clear goals. As Neil says: “I was getting older, I had young grandchildren, and I had a wife who I really loved. I wanted our relationship to continue. I had negatively affected too many people, and I could see my past violent behavior playing out in my kids’ life, and the impact that was having on the lives of my two grandchildren.”
Neil made a commitment to himself early on in the program: He would do the hard work. As Neil progressed through the program sessions and curriculum, he experienced several turning points. His first turning point was learning about his internal belief system. When asked to describe how this began to shift his behavior, Neil says: “Being able to see how my beliefs influenced my thoughts, feelings, and actions was key. Going through the process, I thought, ‘wow, I didn’t know I believed that.’ The self-analysis piece – in the moment and long-term – helped change my actions.”
Over the course of the program, Neil stayed focused on his homework, openly sharing more information and self-learning than the program required. When asked what motivated him to stay on-track, Neil shares, “I wanted to do it right. I wanted to be honest. I wanted to be accountable. When I started writing for my homework assignments, it just flowed.”
Neil’s second turning point was when he started voluntarily attending the DVIP’s “DV Dads” group, outside of his regular sessions, to learn how to be a more stable and loving father and grandfather. Through his experience in DV Dads, Neil learned a new way of thinking about his children in difficult situations.
The third turning point for Neil was “the empathy piece. I’ve always had an affinity for wanting to help people and do good,” Neil says, “but before it felt like my negative actions would cancel out my good actions. It feels good for these actions to not be cancelled out anymore.”
Since his completion of the DVIP, Neil has noticed a drastic improvement in his relationships. As a result, the communication in his marriage has improved, and when issues arise, Neil and his wife are able “to discuss whatever the issue is openly, non-violently, and resolve it rather quickly.” His relationship with his children has also improved. As Neil describes, “it’s like the dark cloud hanging over us – hanging over our conversations – is gone.”
While Neil once thought that his background would be a hindrance to helping others, he now sees his experience as a way to educate a younger population of men about domestic violence as a community mentor. When asked about his current goals, Neil responds, “I want to be a resource for my kids and grandkids – someone they can come to for information. I want to able to help other people recognize and live up to their potential. I love my community and want to do good by my community.”