Meet The Gatehouse at Grapevine, a community where women and children who are ready to permanently stop abuse and poverty can participate in an intensive program to build new lives.
"Domestic violence is increasing in our area. The population is increasing. Shelters are more than full," says Lisa Rose, President of projectHandUp. "Women will stay in shelters for a limited amount of time – then where are you going to go?"
"We are offering a chance for permanent change by offering women enough resources and safe refuge – so they can set their life on a new course."
Reaching Out to Women
In 2008, a series of speaker events called First Friday began as a way, according to Rose, to "take women's ministry from the church to the community."
"Women were needing help with all kinds of life’s issues, but for some reason they were not getting it where they were," says Rose.
What began five years ago with 160 people at Harkins Theatre in Southlake, has grown to 500-900 women a month, September through May.
“As the years went on, we saw there was a more urgent need for help with issues where women need a real hand up – escaping domestic violence, prison, and under or unemployment," says Rose. “We were seeing a need for permanent change out of these situations.”
After four years of First Fridays, projectHandUp began. Now both First Friday and The Gatehouse at Grapevine are programs under the non-profit organization, projectHandUp.
According to Rose, a friend brought her together with Deborah Lyons, who had managed a transitional housing program for 11 years. They teamed together to push forward the First Friday team's dream of a women's resource center.
Offering a Way Out Through Permanent Change
The Gatehouse at Grapevine, when complete, will consist of 96 apartments where women can bring their children and live for up to two and half years, participate in a program to build their life skills and have safe housing, according to Rose.
“We are coming at this from a perspective of permanent change happens from within," says Lyons, Executive Director of The Gatehouse at Grapevine. "We believe that spiritual development – learning to know and love God and know that he loves you – is critical to permanent change and healthy living.”
When women enter The Gatehouse at Grapevine they will enter The Independent Life Program, a program designed and adapted through Lyons' 11 years of experience in transitional housing.
"It is very productive and solid program, based on sound principles of psychology, but also of spiritual development and understanding," says Lyons. "It’s a very relational program. It’s not about rules and regulations.
"We’re not there to dictate. We are there to guide and gently direct, which makes a world of difference.”
“Our goal is not to produce people that look like us," says Rose. "It is to provide a place and an opportunity where these women see the possibilities, and they can become who God created them to be.”
The women coming to the program will be coming straight out of a crisis situation, says Lyons.
"We made this a two and half year program so women can take time to heal, work with a counselor and set goals and see the possibilities," says Lyons. "This program allows them to recover and, if they choose, to complete schooling in a certification course or earn an associates degree."
"We want them to graduate with a job and be ready to go," says Rose.
Becoming Part of the Chamber and the Community
Grapevine Chamber members since November 2012, both Rose and Lyons agree that The Gatehouse at Grapevine being a part of the Chamber is a mutually beneficial relationship.
"The Grapevine Chamber provides a good overview and keeps you up-to-date on what’s happening in the community," says Lyons. "We want to be community members, and we want to participate in what the Chamber is offering. "
"We also want to offer things to the Chamber; so that the members can spread the word about The Gatehouse and take advantage of what we’re offering. I see it as a win-win for all of us."
According to Rose and Lyons, The Gatehouse at Grapevine will have an events center that will offer:
- Classes for continuing education
- Job skills training
- Community events for women from all circumstances
These programs will be for all women in the community - not just women in the program, says Rose.
“We really believe we are supposed to develop a women’s resource center - a community of women," says Rose. "A place where women in the community can come for counseling also.”
According to Lyons, the resource center will be a place all women in the community can come to find literature and people to talk to, if they need it.
"Women can read up on what they want to read up on, attend a class, or be counseled individually," says Lyons. "It’s a melding of women working together to get through life happy and healthy.”
Breaking Ground and Moving Forward
According to the organization's website, dirt will begin to move on the project soon, and a majority of the money to begin Phase 1 of construction has already been raised, which will include 24 units, a Community Center, General Store, and Neighborhood Counseling Center.
As the project begins, Rose and Lyons are seeking volunteers and community partners to get things off the ground.
Part of the project is 5.2 acres of commercial space where they would like to provide legal aid, boutique for clothes, childcare, a medical clinic and places the women can work, according to Rose and Lyons.
What would volunteers be needed for? According to Rose, there is a place for everyone.
Volunteers will be needed to fully take care of the 96 families The Gatehouse at Grapevine will ultimately house, says Rose.
"There will be a place for everyone with a talent and a passion to use it - from setting up the families to sending families off," says Rose.
Learn More and Stay Informed
Visit The Gatehouse at Grapevine's website for more information on the progress of the project, for more information on their needs, to volunteer and to donate.
"We want to create more awareness of the need for women’s recovery," says Lyons. "We want to create awareness that there is help, that we’re there to help and healing is possible."
"Ultimately, we would like to see domestic violence and poverty rare and non-recurring."