Is Merci's Refuge right for me?
Many women have changed their lives forever by coming to Merci's Refuge and we believe that change is possible for you, too! But is Merci's Refuge what you are looking for? Is this the right time? How will coming impact other areas of your life? These are important questions to consider before and during the application process.
Questions to Consider:
Why are you considering Merci's Refuge? What do you hope to change in your life right now? Merci's Refuge is not an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. Merci's Refuge does provide a safe place for women to live (at no financial cost to them) but is specifically tailored for those who are struggling to acheive their goals and enjoy life because of anxiety, depression, addictive behaviors, and unhealthy relationships.
Are you ready to begin counseling? Not everyone is at a place where they can begin the difficult work of counseling. Engaging in counseling will likely bring up uncomfortable emotions and may increase anxiety for a period of time while building new coping skills. Residents take lead in deciding what topics and information to share but allowing oneself to feel uncomfortable emotions is often an important step in experiencing freedom and peace on a long-term basis. Effective counseling also requires building trust and vulernability with a counselor which can be a challenging thing. Are you ready to begin that process?
How severe are your mental health symptoms? If your current or recent mental health symptoms include harming yourself or others it is possible Merci's Refuge is not the right setting for you until you obtain greater saftey and stability. If so, we can help you figure out what you need right now to be safe and connect you with other resources if needed. Please do not hesitate to contact us if you do struggle with self-harming behaviors or thoughts. You can the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).
Where are you at in your recovery? Many of our residents have improved their sobriety by participating in our program. If you need to detox from alcohol, opiates or other substances we can help you find a safe and equipped program. If you have recently completed a detox or inpatient addiction recovery program, or have been sober but struggling with occassional relapses then Merci's Refuge might be a great next step for you.
What level of accountability do you want and need? People need and want different levels of accountability and support. At Merci's Refuge we provide more than some programs and less than others. We have no desire to provide more accountability than what someone wants or needs because that feels controlling for everyone. We will provide regular encouragement. We will ask good questions to help you find solutions to roadblocks. We will remind you of your goals and motivations. We will invite you into "self-evaluation" when your words or actions do not line up with your goals or the program requirements. We will provide random urine drug screening. We will monitor use of potentially addictive medications. During the first 30 days, we will provide a chaperone for any outside visits or errands. In later phases we will review your plans for the week and confirm those plans when leaving for extended periods of time. During the first 2 phases (3-4 months) you will not have access to your own cell phone. Instead, we will allow scheduled use of the landline for you to communicate with friends and family. These forms of accountability are designed to help residents focus on their goals for being at Merci's Refuge. As they say in recovery its important to eliminate or plan for the "people, places and things" that can trigger setbacks.
There are additional aspects of accountability at Merci's Refuge which can be found in our Resident Handbook. Please carefully consider what you want against what we provide. And definitely feel free to ask for clarification on why we do things a certain way or what the accountability looks like.
Do you currently have children in your care? Merci's Refuge is unable to accommodate children over 12 months old. Therefore a woman would need to start the program before her child turns 4 months old so she has enough time to complete the program before her child turns 1. Women who are already separated from their children or choose to separate from them for a period of time in order to seek support can have visits with their children at or outside of Merci's Refuge while in the program. These visits will need to be planned around the program schedule and may not be as long or as frequent as the family would like.
Are you pregnant or did you recently give birth? Merci's Refuge is a safe and comfortable place for moms with babies. You and your baby will have your own room. Your baby will be able to be with you for nearly all the activities except some group counseling sessions. All of our staff and volunteers have completed criminal and DCFS background checks.