In the News!
Read here about how Sophia’s House came about through the restoration of an early twentieth century convent, creating a unique heritage of place which has served women of the area for over a century.
Why Sophia’s House? Three Stories…
ONE: She was 34 years old and dying from cirrhosis of the liver. I visited her in the hospital. “Do you want to live?” I asked. “I don’t want to die.” she answered. The next day she checked herself out of the hospital and came to The Center with a handful of prescriptions, but had no money to buy them. We helped her get the meds and gave her some food as she had none. She was staying a boarding house. Before she left I asked “Do you want a hug?” and she took one. I held her gently for a few breaths and whispered “We love you.” She died a day later. Her family brought her few belongings to us, not knowing what to do with them. She is the first one we watched die and I don’t want another. Would she have come to Sophia’s House? Maybe. I hope so.
TWO: She has been here before, every now and then. I first knew her 10 years ago from another job as a home visitor for local a parenting program. She came in one afternoon and it was several minutes before I recognized her. She is in worse shape now – no teeth, hair a ratty mess, puffy face. “How are you?” I asked. “Good” she said without looking at me. “On my meds.” I notice she is pregnant, and seemed to be off drugs. She only wanted hygiene items and left. I hope she comes back. What might have been possible for her if there had been a Sophia’s House ten years ago? Will she still be here in two years when we open?
THREE: She has been in prison for three years and will be released soon. We knew her before and have visited and supported her during her incarceration. She is sober now and wanting to start a new life. She is also anxious about being able to make it on her own. “You will only be on your own if you choose to be.” I say. “We will be there.” For now though, only in the daytime. Finding housing is the hardest and we haven’t found any yet. We get calls from case workers weekly looking for housing for women leaving prison. One is leaving the county jail next week. We’ll do what we can for now, but if only we had Sophia’s House, they could live there.
Support and empower women survivors of addiction, trafficking, and incarceration through holistic healing in a shared community.
Become the go to place in Maine for trauma informed, gender sensitive recovery that provides holistic healing for women – mind, body and spirit/soul – grounded in community and in love. Healing through horticulture, healing through healthy food, healing through art, healing through meaningful work, healing through stable community life, healing through spirituality, healing with appropriate therapy and good medical care.
Established in 2019, Sophia’s House provides two years of healing and housing for women who are survivors of prostitution, trafficking, prison, and addiction. The project is an adaptation of the successful 20 year Magdalene program at Thistle Farms in Nashville, TN, a comprehensive, two year “housing first” community based model. www.thistlefarms.org
The gender sensitive and trauma informed program includes wrap-around support services for therapy, addiction recovery, via Health Affiliates Maine and medical care and GED work through other local agencies. The Center provides ongoing programs related to building resiliency and relationships and women job training in The Center’s social enterprise called Herban Works. There they experience meaningful work in a contained and nurturing environment while also earning a small stipend. The work itself is healing with a focus is on growing and drying calendula and various herbs. Products created from them include a salve and tea made with calendula, dried mixed herbs and a lavender eye pillow. Women also access programs such as Healthy Homeworks and New Ventures Maine for further training.
The house also includes a permanent resident community that sustains the basic operating costs of the house and provides stability in community life. The permanent residents and women in the long term program share community spaces and regular meals. The house also offers hospitality to neighbors through simple meals or programs held in the common areas.
How you can help
- $50 – A private counselling session for someone without insurance
- $100 – Re-entry funds for basic needs for one woman leaving prison.
- $200 – One month stipend for an Herban Works team member
- $250 – One group art therapy session or one scholarship for the Healthy Homeworks program
- $1,000 – Matched savings account for one woman
- $5,500 – Rent for one woman for a year ($460 for one month)
- $7,000 – Americorps VISTA stipend position at Sophia’s House
- Yet to be known… heat and electricity, food and other basic needs for each woman
Since word is getting out about this project, we have been receiving requests to volunteer. One option is being trained as mentors to visit women who are incarcerated. These women may become residents of Sophia’s House! Teams of two commit to visiting monthly and writing between visits. The Steering Cmt and it’s sub groups also welcome volunteers to help with planning. If interested, inquire at The Center 207-513-3922.
The common denominator for women at The Center, are adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). Just over half of the women score 6 or higher on the 10 point survey. It is chronic trauma, that for most began in childhood, that has impacted lives so deeply that each woman survived in the only way she could. The good news is that with the support of a loving community, women over time can help each other heal and learn to be resilient. Sophia’s House offers that chance and support. The house accommodates the following components:
First Floor: Significant community space (kitchen, dining room, old chapel area for group work and programs). The kitchen is up to code for use as in the social enterprise and baking. There is also a handicapped accessible apartment and a dormitory style guest room for use by visiting families of residents and folks who come to learn about us or work temporarily in neighborhood non-profits.
Second Floor: Permanent residents have private, modest apartments (mix of efficiency, 1 BR), with access to the shared community space in a “co-housing” model that is familiar in Scandinavia. Residents live on a fixed income (retirement, disability, or work etc.). Three apartments are subsidized and two are at market rate.
Third Floor: A shared floor with six private bedrooms for women in the recovery program, shared living and dining area, 2-baths and laundry.
Basement: Storage bins for residents, and social enterprise working or storage spaces.