For more than three decades, St. Mary’s Center in Oakland has provided full-service programs that address the needs of extremely low- income seniors, children, and families. The Center offers an array of critical services including a state-licensed preschool for children whose families would otherwise not be able to afford such a program. St. Mary’s focuses on providing basic needs — food, housing, health resources, and a supportive community.
St. Mary’s offers several homeless programs, including a community nursing program, money management services, a senior drop-in center and their “Recovery 55” program, a daily senior outpatient program for seniors age 55 and older with mental illness and/or alcohol and drug addiction issues. Through discussion and instruction, Recovery 55 group members help themselves change their behavior and support each others’ recoveries.
For many of Recovery 55’s members, the results have been nothing short of a miracle. ”Lennie” has suffered from alcohol and drug abuse since his early teens. Three years ago, his sister encouraged him to go along with her to the Recovery 55 meetings. The more he went to the meetings, the more he identified with the other members of the group and the stories they told about their challenges to recover. “Looking back, I didn’t think I could ever stop drinking” says Lennie, who is two years sober. “But now I’ve changed my habits, even the way I eat. And when I’m feeling down, Shirley, my case manager, always lifts me up.”
Without the many programs available through St. Mary’s, many low-income seniors and families wouldn’t have the resources they need to live a healthy and productive life. And without a loan from Community Vision, St. Mary’s wouldn’t have been able to add a housing facility to its campus that provides a transition between living in shelters and placement in permanent housing. “We had no collateral to even try to go with a regular lender” says Carol Johnson, St. Mary’s executive director. “But now we own our property and just finished paying off our loan. We never could have accomplished this without all the work Community Vision did to help us make a better facility, so we can keep doing what we do best — helping the community.”