Fall Newsletter

From Where I Sit...

More often than not, when I arrive at the office in the morning, I notice a handful of people sitting on chairs and planters in front of California First Bank. Their daily coffee and conversation ritual did not disappear in the midst of the pandemic. By adjusting to where they meet, they found a way to continue what was/is important to them despite the pandemic. Each morning I see them brings a smile behind my mask and I am reminded of an Anthony De Mello quote: Nothing has changed but my attitude, therefore, everything has changed.

The pandemic has not slowed Crossroads down, but it has challenged us to be creative in providing services for the women. I’ve often shared that when things get difficult at Crossroads, all I need to do is think of the women and what they are doing, what they have accomplished. Motivation is renewed and I get moving again with new energy.

At the beginning of July, we were finally able to purchase the “after-care” house we had been renting in Pomona for the past 13 years. It will be a new program for Crossroads providing six months of Transitional Housing for women who have completed a six-month residential program. Rather than expanding our current residential program, providing Transitional Housing was the next best step for the women. It will allow up to 8 women another 6 months of housing and meals at no cost to them as they work and continue to save 75% of their earnings. It takes almost six years for a woman to become financially stable. This new component should shorten that time significantly.

These weeks are spent making needed repairs and upgrades in preparation for inspection and approval for addition to our current contract. As restrictions ease, volunteers for various work parties would be most welcome. Please check our website and emails for upcoming dates and requests.

Crossroads, Inc Executive Director | Sr, Terry Dodge

Amazon Smile

You can support Crossroads, Inc. when you shop on Amazon. We receive a percentage of all eligible purchases. Select Crossroads, Inc. as your Amazon Smile charity or go to our website at crossroadswomen.org and follow the link.

Reflections on Wonder Woman

Reel Life…


For almost three months now, I have been facilitating a group with the women using movies such as: Cast Away, The Pursuit of Happyness, Zootopia, Crash, Hidden Figures, RBG, On the Basis of Sex, Yentl, and Wonder Woman.

Sometimes it is difficult to make sense of what is happening in our lives, especially if we don’t have any other experience with which to compare it. The use of movies/media helps to bridge this gap through storylines, character development, interpretations of what is being watched and heard and how it relates to our own personal issues. The in-depth conversations connects us with each other and we realize we are not alone in our struggle.

Wonderful discussions have developed around determination, stereotypes, racism, personal development, perseverance, support, role models … just to name a few topics.

With everything, I ask each woman what is your “take-away” … that one kernel you will remember and why? Here are two Crossroads women’s reflections after watching Wonder Woman – which I used as a final culminating movie to gather our inspirations and musings.

SONJA’S REFLECTIONS

Life fails to be perfect but it is always beautiful. My take away from this particular film was the moment I found I wasn’t alone in my Journey. There is a hero in every single one of us. WE may not know exactly where our Journeys began or where our Journeys may lead us, but we must get on the road to even begin this Journey. So my take is the role I play, how that role is different from everyone else, what makes it stand out in a crowd.

I chose this movie because of the many moments I have experienced the crossroads in my life. The moments where I must make a choice and stand alone in it. Heartfelt choices. Powerful choices. How will my choices affect me or others? Those are the hardest choices we make in life. Many times I gave to much of me. Many times I gave too little of me. Without giving anything to myself, it was like a car running out of gas and the car stops. You can’t simply keep going.

There are moments in our lives where there’s scars then moment of laughter, but once we realize we are at a crossroad we must keep going because those are the most powerful moments … so keep going. (Sonja)

DURLENE’S REFLECTIONS

Right Action. Wonder Woman’s aunt inspired me the most. She inspired me to continue being strong, determined and prepared. Daily I remind myself that strong will, determination, and right action will produce “just rewards.” Her daily training and education of self, reminded me that you must be prepared for life’s journeys, battles, and trials.

Even knowing you can’t foresee the future or always be prepared … you can at least do all you can in preparation to survive it. I’m reminded that life is now. There is no dress rehearsal. And I must meet it head on. I believe in myself. Remain steadfast and forward moving. Stagnation is a poison I must not allow to seep in. I must continue learning, growing, and becoming. And always remember … feelings are not right or wrong … they just are. Live in the now … embrace it. (Durlene)

BOARD HIGHLIGHTS

The Board and I are well and sincerely hope that you and your families are healthy and hopeful. The challenges we all face are daunting at times, but they are life affirming too. We are so grateful to be with you in this beloved community.

Despite the pandemic, the Board has been meeting regularly via Zoom, emails, and texts, and we have done some good work. In July, we said good-bye to a valued Board member, Pat Samuelson, and hello to three new Board members, Pia Gupta, Rachel McDonnell, and Leeann Nabors. We are now thirteen members strong.

On September 26th we will hold a board development retreat, led by Cindi Phallen of Create Possibility. It is wonderful to feel the energy already generated by our new relationship with Cindi. Our goal is to lay a strong foundation for organizational restructuring, so that the mission of providing hope and home for the women of Crossroads is assured. The better organized we are, the better funded our programs will be, and the women will prosper.

SAN FRANCISCO HOUSE

In July, Crossroads took ownership of a third home for our women, the San Francisco House, in Pomona. This purchase will generate additional income for Crossroads by providing transitional housing and support programing for eight women.

FUNDRAISERS & DONATIONS

The Board is currently planning several virtual fundraisers, for the late fall and winter, while developing a long-term strategic plan for funding.

Stay safe, dear friends, Dinny Rasmussen, Board Chair

Welcome

The Crossroads Board of Directors is delighted to welcome three new members to the Board. New members serve for three years and may be elected to a second three-year term. At this time the Board has thirteen members. Each of the new members offers her unique life experiences, training, and talents to us and we will be a richer community because of them.

LEEANN NABORS

Leeann Nabors has over 9 years of experience managing day to day operations of a nonprofit, 501c(3) counseling center in Claremont. She also serves as the Administrative Coordinator for the Claremont Colleges for the OCAC (Office of Consortia Academic Collaboration), facilitating the Justice Education and Data Science Initiatives. Leeann has a strong commitment to under-served, under-represented and marginalized populations.

PIA GUPTA

Pia Gupta is Department Chair and Professor of Finance at California State University Long Beach (CSULB). Pia earned her PhD in Finance from Texas and moved to California in 2006. Her research and teaching interests are in the areas of Corporate Finance and Investments. She joined the board of Crossroads as its mission aligns perfectly with that of the Cal State system, which is to serve the under-served communities. She is also passionate about traveling and enjoys hiking, cooking, and reading.

 

RACHEL MCDONNELL

Rachel McDonnell is a graphic artist and web-designer who specializes in helping non-profit organizations reach their goals. She has been involved in local non-profit marketing and leadership for over 20 years. She is interested in social and criminal justice issues and looks forward to opportunities to assist organizations who help people who were formerly incarcerated. A self-described coffee, book, and twitter addict – she endeavors to put aside computers, tablets and phones for more than 20 minutes a day and is generally unsuccessful.

BERNADETTE:
Perseverance, Hard Work & New Beginnings


I was sentenced to “15 to life with the possibility of parole” in June of 2007. On June 7th 2019 I was released from custody after serving 15 years. I was mandated a program and decided to go to Crossroads, Inc. My priority was to get a job and start saving my money right away. However, the program had other plans for me, plans unknown to me that would benefit me when I was ready to leave.
It took a lot of patience but the women and staff there made sure to always uplift me when I had trying times. Job seeking was horrible for me. It even got a little discouraging. Many jobs denied me because I have tattoos and a criminal background.

My opportunity came when I was offered a job with the DoubleTree Hilton of Claremont. I was so happy and excited I was finally having the opportunity to really work. And let me tell you, it was hard work! Going to work early in the morning and coming home mid-afternoon to go to group was exhausting! But well worth it! I had graduated the program and continued to strive at my job when here comes COVID-19. WOW!!! That was very frustrating.

Once again I felt discouraged. My hours were cut drastically and I was on unemployment. I’ve never been known to just sit around and wait. I’m a determined go-getter so I placed applications everywhere. Even places I knew would run my background. But I didn’t care. I wasn’t going to give up! I received a phone call one day from Foothill Transit asking for an interview. I went and told my story telling them that all I wanted was a chance.

That Chance is what they gave me. I now have not only a job but a career as a professional bus operator.

If it wasn’t for the women and staff at Crossroads I probably would’ve given up. Thank you Crossroads for all you have shown and given me.

Our Stay-at-Home Musings

Our Stay-at-Home Musings

“Fears are tangible and may not be eliminated but we do not have to be controlled by them. When we change our thinking, we change the way we see the world around us. We find that as we navigate the obstacles, we uncover opportunity.”

It is trite to say our world has changed and we live in fear.  In March, I was in Ireland at an international meeting with the leaders of my religious community.  Surrounded by the beautiful Irish coastal countryside and with an emerging backdrop of COVID-19, Sisters from Ireland, England, Ghana, Nigeria, and the US discussed the future of our international group.  With the 8-hour time difference, the early mornings allowed me opportunity to follow the news of California from the day before and be in contact with the Crossroads staff before the next day began for them.  Our much anticipated major fundraiser for the year with Martin Sheen and Melissa Fitzgerald reading A.R. Gurney’s Love Letters had to be cancelled.

Since my return … businesses have closed…movement has become more restricted…and we pay attention to numbers like a bookie managing his bets.  Terms like social distancing, essential businesses, shelter-in-place, have become part of our everyday vocabulary.  Empty streets, extended lines outside stores, and face masks are common sites.

The Crossroads office is closed to the public but our work continues as usual and women continue to come asking for a new beginning.  As we try to ease their fears, we also learn from their resilience and determination.  Fears are tangible and may not be eliminated but we do not have to be controlled by them.  When we change our thinking, we change the way we see the world around us.  We find that as we navigate the obstacles, we uncover opportunity. 

The Other Side of the Virus, An Opportunity to Awaken…

Yes there is panic buying.

Yes there is sickness.

Yes there is even death.

But,

They say that in Wuhan after so many years of noise

       You can hear the birds again.

They say that after just a few weeks of quiet

       The sky is no longer thick with fumes

       But blue and grey and clear.

They say that in the streets of Assisi

       People are singing to each other

       across the empty squares,

       keeping their windows open

       so that those who are alone

       may hear the sounds of family around them.

They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland

      is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.

 Today a young woman I know

      is busy spreading fliers with her number

      through the neighborhood

      so that the elders may have someone to call on.

 Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples

      are preparing to welcome

      and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.

All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting.

All over the world people are looking at their neighbors in a new way.

All over the world people are waking up to a new reality

      To how big we really are.

      To how little control we really have. 

      To what really matters.

      To Love.

 

So we pray and we remember that

Yes there is fear.

     But there does not have to be hate.

Yes there is isolation.

   But there does not have to be loneliness.

Yes there is panic buying.

    But there does not have to be meanness.

Yes there is sickness.

    But there does not have to be disease of the soul

Yes there is even death.

     But there can always be a rebirth of love.

Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.

 

Today, breathe.

Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic-

     The birds are singing again

     The sky is clearing,

     Spring is coming,

     And we are always encompassed by Love.

Open the windows of your soul

          And though you may not be able

          to touch across the empty square,

          Sing.

– Written by Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM, March 13th 2020

 

The First Time I Felt Free

by Lisa, Crossroads Resident


A couple weeks ago in our processing group, one of the questions we were asked was, “When was the first time you felt free?” All of the women have different answers to this question, but my answer was, “The first time I felt free was riding on the bus
going to work. It was seeing families walk together, it was seeing cars go by on the street, it was seeing life existing and that I was a part of it. That is the first time I was finally able to exhale and take it all in.”


While serving 20 years in prison, I was always preparing for freedom. I wanted to go back to my family. I felt guilty for not being there, I felt that I needed to make up for the past. In some ways, I thought being with my family would be the easy choice. But, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I needed to be in a place where I was emotionally supported and encouraged to be self-sufficient. Coming to Crossroads offered me the counseling I needed, it offered me a place where I was with others who had been through similar experiences, and most importantly, a safe environment that helps me grow and heal.


Now, with less than a month left in the Crossroads program, I feel that freedom I felt on the bus every day. I feel it when I go to the library to do research for the women still in prison, I feel it when I serve the homeless at Urban Mission, I feel it when I am studying for my Driver’s License test. I know who I am, I have a good self-image, and I’m more equipped to deal with the real world. I can ask for help whenever I need it and I know I will be connected to Crossroads for the rest of my life.

From Where I Sit – Sr. Terry

I grew up in Lakewood … a short 35 miles from Claremont. As a kid in the 50’s, our backyards were safe havens. Typically, you could tell where everyone was, from the noise drifting over the rooftops. We played together, got into fights, plotted grandiose schemes, and dreamed of what life would be like when we “grew up.”

Recently, I’ve been thinking about the “life” that happens in the Harvard House backyard. Thanks to Life Bible Fellowship Church in Upland, it has been upgraded and transformed into a beautiful safe haven complete with a meditative bench in the “Lifer’s Rose Garden.”

However, what catches my interest each time I am in the backyard is the large tree that is central and provides significant shade to most of the area. In many ways it is representative of both Crossroads and the women we serve.

In my early days at Crossroads, it was more of a nuisance than anything else. It was mostly dirt and dried leaves below the scraggly branches, and it was impossible for grass to
grow beneath it. Sometime in the 90’s it was cut down to a stump that was a little too high for sitting but provided a good perch for brewing sun tea.

At some forgotten point in time, the tree took on a new life of its own. Shoots not only sprouted from the stump but completely overgrew it. A few women in the program, who had worked in forestry, took the tree into their care – pruning the right branches and allowing sunlight to filter through. The branches are twisted and scattered but today it provides a beautiful canopy of shade for the women to enjoy sitting outside … listening to the birds … writing in their journals … visiting with family and friends … a safe haven.

Sr. Terry

Sr. Terry Recognized as a 2019 Congressional Woman of the Year

Sr. Terry Recognized as a 2019 Congressional Woman of the Year

On Saturday, April 13, Rep. Judy Chu (CA-27) hosted the Congressional Women of the Year Awards Ceremony to honor local women in the San Gabriel Valley who have contributed to the community through service, organizing, or leadership. The award, now in its 10th year, is given to women nominated by people in their own cities and communities. Rep. Chu released the following statement:

“The annual Women of the Year Awards Ceremony is one of my favorite events of the year. Today’s winners have stood out in our communities because of their drive and commitment to give back to the San Gabriel Valley. Every single honoree today has been selected through an exhaustive process, starting with a nomination from their neighbors, friends, and family – the people in their communities who have benefited most directly from their service. We received a flood of nominations from cities across the district, and today’s winners stood out not only because of their work, but because of the admiration from their neighbors and fellow citizens. I’m so proud of these role models and am honored to be recognizing them.”

Sr. Terry was among those selected as an honoree from Claremont. CA. in recognition of the leadership and commitment to the Crossroads, Inc. program for formerly incarcerated women.