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Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Gatehouse breaks ground on academy, adding another service offered to women and children in crisis

The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence says that nationwide an average of 20 people are physically abused by intimate partners every minute, with 1 in 3 women having been physically abused by an intimate partner.

NCADV acknowledges that it can be very difficult for victims of domestic abuse to leave their situation as they often face uncertainty, societal barriers and more.

This is where places like Grapevine’s community The Gatehouse come into play. Opened in April 2015, the faith based and privately funded 501-c3 organization’s mission statement is to be “a supportive living community where women and children in crisis discover new paths for permanent change.”

“We are not a shelter, we fill the gap between short term services and permanent self-supportiveness.” Gatehouse President Lisa Rose said. “Cycles of abuse and poverty have ended and [members] are creating a new path to change their world and the world of their kids.”

The campus – currently serving 68 women and 100 children – includes over 90 apartment units, two advisory centers, a community center, a chapel, a general store and a clothing boutique.

The development’s leadership held a groundbreaking for the campus’ new Early Learning Childcare Academy site Friday, July 14.

The architect, contractor and designer include ERN Architects, MIC Development Group and Premier Academy respectively. The facility will be the first of its kind in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area, catering specifically to women and children leaving crisis situations.

“Permanent change is not possible without quality childcare. Yet quality childcare is one of the greatest barriers for keeping families and women from being self-supportive,” Rose said.

“I’m happy to announce this morning that 211 people have raised well over half of the needed $4.5 million for our childcare academy,” she said. “But it’s not about the dollar, it’s about the 150 Gatehouse kids and approximately 150 community kids who will have an opportunity for success in school and life starting fall 2018.”

Gatehouse members will pay a discounted rate to enroll their children. Construction on the academy will begin mid-2017 and it will house the community’s Student Enrichment program. The program includes academic, physical, arts and social/emotional curriculum as well as on- and off-campus activities.

“This academy will provide the much-needed space for the Gatehouse Student Enrichment Program, which itself is designed to introduce marginalized children to the possibilities and the opportunities of life,” Deborah Lyons, Gatehouse executive director, said.

A Gatehouse member, who will remain anonymous for her safety and privacy, spoke on the addition of the academy.

“The Early Learning Childcare Academy is part of the foundation our children need to gather tools and resources that will make their futures better on a massive scale,” she said. “Some of us here at the Gatehouse come from very toxic environments. Escaping my toxic situation, I felt very isolated. I was scared, confused, I had no one to turn to. I didn’t even know where I was going to go with my 3-year-old twin boys.

“It has been a ray of Heaven on Earth to know programs and places like The Gatehouse exist, she said. “And now this place is even more of a blessing because they are using their resources to expand and build this academy.”

The Gatehouse’s academy will add to the community, which currently consists of:

– 96 apartments divided into 4 neighborhoods,

– two advisor centers where members meet with their advisors every week

– Hope Chapel

– Justin Warehouse

– The Washington Community Education Center

– The General Store

– Keeps Boutique.

After working on their monthly budget with their advisors, members shop for their family at the General Store. Gatehouse Director of Operations Greg Garner said that although they buy some food at discounted rates most of the food is donated from area food banks, grocery stores and organizations. He said about 2,500 pounds of food and supplies are donated weekly from vegetables to toilet paper, and more.

Next door to the General Store is Keeps Boutique founded and operated by Emily Avedikan. On a back wall of the boutique is Proverbs 31:25 “She is clothed with strength and dignity.”

Each season, members are able to come into the store for a private two-hour shopping appointment where they can choose 15 clothing items and five accessories for themselves. The same applies for the members’ children. All clothing and accessories are brand new, donated from clothing stores from Kohls to Kendra Scott.

As she chooses a whole new theme and goes through her storage to determine what will be on the racks each season, Avedikan covers the windows in brown paper.

“I’ve seen about 120 women and 100 kids… we dress them for court dates, interviews, building new wardrobes, you know kind of rebranding yourself almost,” Avedikan said. “It’s amazing to see a woman who was allowed to have two pairs of jeans and three t-shirts … showing up to court looking dynamite, and three people ask if she’s the lawyer.”

On top of new clothing, Keeps Boutique provides special offers including haircuts and nail allowances for women. There are also back-to-school packages and haircuts, and winter coats and etiquette classes for children.

In addition to safe housing, food and clothes, The Gatehouse provides cars, professional counseling, medical, dental, legal aid, childcare, and – through the Independent Life Program – financial literacy training, life skills training and career development for its members.

The ILP was founded by Lyons and aims to help the Gatehouse women train for career readiness and nurture their family through crisis recovery stabilization. The program’s “Pathway to Self- Supportiveness” takes approximately 2-2.5 years. Culminating in self-supportiveness, it covers 8 milestones and focus areas including:

– Cognitive skills assessment

– Meeting basic needs

– Identifying career-track aspirations

– Physical, emotional and spiritual development

– Formal education and skills development

– Life skills development

– Refined job search and secure placement

– Socialization and community

Each week, members meet with their advisors and choose two out of 11 areas of focus for that appointment. Focuses range from parenting to personal and spiritual development, financial management and more.

As Gatehouse members, the women and their families stay in spacious one-, two- or three-bedroom apartment units that are fully furnished with a stocked kitchen and bathroom, washer-dryer unit included, sewing and tool kits, personalized bedrooms with books, bedding, work/school stations and anything else needed. On move-in day, apartments are fully furnished and stocked with a ready-made meal in the fridge.

All personalized items, furniture and more are donated to the center by various organizations. For example, Grapevine Caring Crafters creates handmade bundles of potholders, coasters and kitchen towels. Over 250 handmade quilts have been donated by four quilt guilds and academies, as well as members of the Baptist church and the community. And Fellowship United Methodist Church’s trophy Club provides personalized posters to go above the bed of every child.

There are multiple ways to get involved with or support The Gatehouse including volunteering, investing or donating, becoming a Gatehouse Ambassador, working as a Gatehouse Young Professional or being a part of the Women’s giving Circle/Circle 58. For more information visit www.gatehousegrapevine.com.

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