By Kelli Epp
Founded in 1895, Providence Place began as a rescue mission for young unmarried mothers, evolving today to create innovative programs for women in crisis to address and end generational trauma. One fact has remained true: it is not the size of the program that matters, but the impact it makes in the lives of women and families.
“We intentionally keep things small,” said Providence Place Chief Program Officer Angelica Cervantes. “Our approach to serving is not numbers based. We make sure we are serving people with quality and heart. It helps shift the focus to our core values, which is about connection and relationship.”
Providence Place, originally known as the Methodist Mission Home is located on a 25-acre campus on the northwest side of San Antonio. It continues to support women in many ways, including adoption and foster program, help for those experiencing trafficking, homelessness and residential service for women aging out of foster care.
“We help them navigate resources and services that are available because there are so many services, it can get overwhelming,” Cervantes explained. “Our clients always receive wraparound, trauma-informed care. When you are addressing generational trauma, so much of that is rooted in relationships that have been hurtful. Our staff experience what it is like to walk along on that journey so that our clients can see and engage in restorative relationships. That is just as important as learning new life skills.”
Providence Place worked with The University of Texas at San Antonio to provide a study that showed how the survivor program is making a real impact in the lives of adult female survivors of human trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic violence. Participants of the program show improved quality of life, increased financial independence and decreased symptoms of trauma.
Angelica participated in the Social Venture Partners San Antonio Fellowship Program and said it really solidified the approach Providence Place has been taking, especially in how it measures impact.
“Angelica is the perfect example of how to use the Fellowship to collaborate with the other Fellows to find resources for her clients at Providence Place,” Becky Dinnin, Executive Director said. “This is a goal for SVPSA to make those introductions for them and see them connect for greater good.”
“Everything we do, SVP just echoed,” she continued. “Understanding the systems and being able to truly utilize measurements to show impact. It was good to know that what we were doing what is considered a best practice. I brought it back to the team and that was very reassuring.”
Angelica also found the opportunities for networking and collaboration within SVP helpful, not only to the 30 or so employees of Providence Place, but also to their clients.
“The increased networking was helpful in many ways,” she said. “To hear from colleagues on different issues and to know what they are struggling with was very validating and helped keep things in perspective. It also created job opportunities for women in our program because I now have even more people I can directly connect with. As a Latina woman, I am first in my family to graduate high school, go to college, and have a professional career. I didn’t have anyone in my network immediately to show me the way. Fellowships like SVP help people who may not have access to find mentors, empower us and remind us that we belong at the table. It allows us to use our voice.”
If you’re interested in supporting Providence Place, they are looking for internship opportunities for their clients – a group of hardworking, overcoming women ready to take that next step. Providence Place also seeks partner organizations to hold donation drives for household goods or housewarming gifts, as well as diaper drives and other supplies for expectant or new mothers. Contact Providence Place for more information.