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.
Reflections on Wonder Woman
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.
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)
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)
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
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 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 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 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.
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.