United Way is proud to include New Generation as a funded agency partner doing critically important work every day with women and their children. It’s a place where the urgency of housing and food get taken care of so they can focus on self-empowerment and finding the resilience within them to steer their lives on a new course.
In this place, located in Greenland NH, women are doing the hard work of focusing on their own healing. A loud noise like a door slamming can set off a trauma response; a sound that sends them straight back to a frightening time and place when someone they trusted was out of control and unpredictable.
“When that happens, we stop everything and support them to unravel the reaction and the feelings. When that happens the task of filling out a housing application gets set aside for the moment” explains Amy Michaels, Family Services Director.
The women are learning about Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) in morning group and literally re-wiring their reactions sometime later the same day. ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood (violence, abuse, neglect) or growing up in an environment that is unsafe or unstable due to substance misuse, mental illness, or divorce. The experiences of frequent moves and homelessness contribute to toxic stress, putting children at risk for chronic health conditions later in life (source: CDC.gov/violenceprevention/aces/fastfacts).
All women living at New Generation are still struggling with the stigma of being homeless. They are working every day to achieve permanent housing, self-sufficiency and more than anything to be able to support their children to be successful in life.
Most women that come to New Generation have experienced significant trauma in the past. Common adult expressions of unresolved childhood trauma include anger, depression, feeling isolated or struggling to manage emotions. The professional support staff at New Generation understand this impact and so they provide space for healing by building the trust that it takes to look at patterns of behavior.
In COVID times
When you are used to being on the edge, in crisis, it makes it nearly impossible to organize your day, let alone the ups and downs of your child’s day. Imagine the overwhelm in March of 2020 when 11 school-aged children were suddenly at the shelter all day. The community of hard-working Moms at New Gen were expected to become teachers and IT professionals overnight. Packets and Zoom links and passwords, oh my! The innovative New Generation Team sprang into action, creating a remote school community in the basement.
“We made lots of charts so that each student knew their scheduled classes and how to log on” Amy describes, “and every day we held morning meeting for group activities like art that everyone could engage in together”.
Role modeling strategies to support the students through their school day allowed the women to stay focused on their own goals of healing and moving their families forward. Being in tune with what each mom needs for herself and what her children need to thrive is exactly what makes New Generation such a special place for the women whose paths include stopping there for 12-24 months.
A unique experience
“When working with women on their challenges, it almost always begins with a safe place to live. I came to New Generation to help women on their pathway to permanent housing.” Elsy Cipriani, new Executive Director at the program, shared when we talked recently.
Steps on that path begin with getting to know the program and meeting the families living there. Then come goal setting, a regular routine of check-ins, dismantling barriers and moving forward. It is not uncommon to begin with gathering personal documents required for completing benefits and housing applications while also building connections with the community that will carry forward even after they find an apartment. And although many of the women share a common history of trauma and abuse, their stories of resilience are unique.
“Our team meets the women wherever they are with no judgment, to help them to succeed”, said Cipriani.
United Way provides funding to support New Generation because of the transformative power behind truly meeting every woman where she is. United Way’s partnership with New Generation reflects our commitment to the women and children who stop there for a while and is our way of holding space for the journey that came before alongside the belief that she will achieve her goals.