ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Among the hopeful making pilgrimages to Santa Fe during the legislative session will be a small band of women intent on bringing a message of success.
They represent Crossroads for Women, an Albuquerque organization that provides housing, counseling and support services to women who have experienced abuse, addictions, homelessness and incarceration.
"We focus on reintegration from the streets to community life," said KC Quirk, executive director at Crossroads.
Since its founding in 2001, Crossroads has housed 350 women and worked with about 1,600 annually at the Metropolitan Detention Center. Clients say the broad spectrum approach that goes beyond just providing housing to addressing mental health, self-esteem and relationship issues is what makes a long-term difference.
They say Crossroads has helped them recover from addictions, reconnect with family and create stability in their lives.
"It's overwhelming to wake up every morning with a roof over your head. You want to hug the air," said Janice Juan, a Crossroads client who grew up in poverty on the Navajo reservation and followed a family pattern of alcohol abuse which led to jail time.
Now she is pursuing a social work degree at Central New Mexico Community College and recently made the dean's List.
Quirk and a couple of Crossroads clients are traveling to Santa Fe to bring that message to legislators.
"There's a lot of success that sits in these rooms, but it doesn't happen without funding," Quirk said as she sat with a group of clients in the Downtown Albuquerque house that serves as Crossroads headquarters.
Crossroads' budget was $987,543 in 2010, with most of that money coming from federal funds. The program also gets money from the state, Bernalillo County, the city, and grants and donations.
The organization has seen some of its state and federal funding cut in the past two years, and Quirk is concerned the tight economy could mean more cuts at a time when the need for services is increasing.
In the past two years, other organizations such as Tierra del Sol, part of Healthcare for the Homeless that offered housing and other services for women, have closed. During the same period, Crossroads has seen the number of applications for its services increase.
"When you're on the streets, with no place to go, no phone, no shower, there is no way to get out," said Patricia Marez, another Crossroads client.
Quirk said the women who go through the Crossroads program have to demonstrate that they want to get out of the negative cycle. Women have to commit to pursuing goals such as completing probation, attending therapy sessions, or life-skills and vocational classes. In return, Crossroads helps them with housing at a residential facility called Maya's House, where they work to stabilize their lives.
When they graduate from the six-month Maya's House program, clients can live in one of the roughly two dozen houses or apartments Crossroads leases in the metro area, while continuing with classes and counseling.
"We have seen that this works," Crossroads Clinical Director Larrea Lavoiscia said.
Quirk said she hopes legislators will listen to the women's stories and consider providing more resources so they can meet the growing demand for services.
Information from: Albuquerque Journal, http://www.abqjournal.com