Case Manager Vickie Gabin works with a client in her new office.
The long-awaited remodeling of Casa Familia, our emergency shelter for single women and families with children, is nearing completion. More than two years in the planning and implementation, the project underwent numerous delays in the permitting process and required several variances before final approval. But now the program has a new public entrance and outdoor children’s playground, as well as reconfigured office space to enhance security, promote child-family interaction and allow more confidential discussions between staff and guests. The new entrance opens onto the parking lot and features outdoor lighting, security camera and intercom system allowing staff inside to interact with and screen visitors, particularly at nighttime. Inside it has a volunteer-staffed desk, large donation closet and security door leading to the rest of the building.
The new entrance opens onto the parking lot and features outdoor lighting, security camera and intercom system allowing staff inside to interact with and screen visitors, particularly at nighttime. Inside it has a volunteer-staffed desk, large donation closet and security door leading to the rest of the building. This provides more privacy for the residents, since visitors can now come by to drop off or pick up donations without having to enter the living quarters. And during evenings, the space can be used for group activities,such as life-skills sessions, while leaving the tv/playroom area free for the children to use without interruption.
The outdoor playground, though small, is secure and accessible only through the building itself. Among staff, the program manager, case manager and daytime or evening supervisor now have private instead of shared offices to foster more open interaction and confidentiality with guests, particularly during entrance interview/assessments and case management sessions. Still to be installed is the fire suppression system.
“We’ve really improved our capability to take and disburse more donations and be more responsive to the community,” says Lawrence Sena,program manager. “The remodeling also provides much improved staff workflow and permits more intimate case management and trauma informed response for our guests.”
Case Manager Vickie Gabin is equally enthusiastic about the changes. “My new office is a much more relaxed and comfortable space and that helps put my clients at ease to talk more openly with me about their challenges and their goals” she says. “As you might imagine, their circumstances and stories gradually unfold over time, but I expect my new setting to help advance the process and put them more quickly on the road to success.”
Throughout the many months of disruptions and disturbances, Casa Familia remained open for the more than 350 adults and children that depend on its services each year. Staff and guests worked valiantly around the construction and now are glad that it all seems to have been worthwhile.
“We’re definitely able to serve people better,” says Colleen Mahoney, daytime supervisor and case manager. “We now actually have a front-desk person to meet and greet visitors, and there’s a better division between our public and private services.”
Current guests Tina Gibula and Liz Dorsey also speak approvingly of the remodel. “For all the construction they did, it wasn’t that noisy and came out great,” Tina says. “I really like the new, larger donation closet and the new entry makes it easier to get in and out of the building,” Liz says.
The remodeling was financed through a mix of private and governmental monies. Leading funders include the Abram & Ray Kaplan Foundation, Lineberry Foundation, Domanica Foundation, Liberty Ranch Infinite Possibilities Fund, Frost Foundation, William & Amy Conway Fund, Gale Family Foundation, Brindle Foundation, Clothes Helping Kids, Tammy Maloof, Nan Schwanfelder and the City of Santa Fe Community Services Block Grant. Our thanks to everyone else who made a donation toward the project, as well as the many others who continued to donate gifts-in-kind of clothes, toys, food and other needed items for our guests.
This article was originally published in our Winter Newsletter 2017. To read our latest newsletter, click here.
The remodeled Casa Familia can use volunteers to staff the front desk or prepare evening meals. If you’re interested, please call Lawrence or Shannon at 983-2042.