To Whom It May Concern:
To describe the experience of living at Dottie’s House and following the steps of the program for a two year period seemed, at first glance, somewhat overwhelming. So many changes had taken place in my life that it was only upon reflection that I was able to see more clearly that the changes I was able to effect were a direct result of the influence of Dottie's House. I am therefore grateful for this opportunity to reflect and record.
In the interview process that took place prior to my acceptance into the program, I met with a few staff members and their understanding and caring response to me conveyed the assurance that I could depend on their encouragement and support. Coming from a situation bent on destroying all vestiges of personal worth, this response from people I had never met before was truly overwhelming. Even more amazing is the fact that this same spirit of acceptance and support continued during my stay at Dottie’s House and is a major source of encouragement today, even though it’s been over two years since I left the program. Both myself and my son are not only welcome to return and "re-fuel" but are encouraged to do so…and we do.
Upon entering Dottie's House as a resident, the sense of safety and security permeated the atmosphere, inviting the experience of a relaxed peace. Nothing could be more welcome to someone coming out of an abusive situation. Meeting and interacting with other residents only added to that sense of safety and comfort.
Of course a place like Dottie's House could not exist without rules. As unwelcome as rules are, in Dottie’s House they made more sense than they seemed in other situations. They are in effect primarily to assure the safety of all the residents and to encourage the progress of each, primarily as they develop a stronger sense of self, a deepening of that all-important sense of self-worth. I began to develop a belief in myself that I had never experienced and found myself with the encouragement of my Case Manager, the receipt of a Scholarship that gave me the opportunity to pursue and complete an LPN program. I am now engaged in further studies, looking forward to becoming a Registered Nurse, a goal that I never would have thought possible a few years ago. Along with these training opportunities that Dottie’s House opened up for me, I was introduced to other pursuits that many others take for granted, things like housekeeping, budgeting, general handling of finances, contacts for legal problems, help with parenting issues, the value of creating a structured life as compared to the chaos that had become so familiar. I was provided with much needed support when it was necessary to appear in Court when faced with marital and child custody issues.
Something else that Dottie’s House provided was the special attention given to the children. A professional Art Therapist was on staff who dedicated her hours of work exclusively to the children. This was an invaluable addition to the program, one that my son is still able to take advantage of, even to this day.
Another reality that I was awakened to was the generosity and thoughtfulness of people outside the system. I was living in a two bedroom apartment, fully furnished thanks to donations from the public at large. I would probably never have had the opportunity to be the recipient of such acts of kindness from people who have never been inside a facility like Dottie’s House, have probably never met a victim of domestic violence, who were able to extend their consideration to me, an unknown, as well as to others in the same situation. Other things as well, seemed to miraculously appear on the premises when needed: a jug of laundry detergent, a tube of toothpaste, a can of soup, a bath towel, a bottle of shampoo, and countless other items, big and small, all giving evidence of the number of people who care. The ultimate surprise!!!!! When getting ready to leave Dottie’s House to take up residence in my own apartment, I was able to take with me all the household items I had lived with for two years, including furniture, kitchen utensils, in short, everything except the refrigerator and stove.
I feel that no matter how meaningful and life-changing my experience at Dottie's House proved to be, it still falls short of being fully descriptive. I would like to close by assuring the reader that I would enthusiastically and without reservation recommend the "Dottie's House Experience" to everyone and anyone who finds herself in a situation similar to mine.