Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Walter Hoving Home, 1

Teresa Wolf embraced me when we first met. "We're huggers," she said. Truly, I received more than my share of hugs during my visit to the Walter Hoving Home in Pasadena.

I had long wondered about the place. Then recently I met Montonya Sauls and Laurie Reno outside Smart & Final, where they were collecting donations. We got to talking and they invited me to make an appointment to come by.

Quoting Wikipedia: "The Walter Hoving Home is a non-profit, faith-based rehabilitation center serving women 18 years and older who have been involved in drug addiction, alcoholism, prostitution and other life-controlling problems."

But it's not a rehab facility, says Associate Director Teresa Wolf. "It's a home." The women who live there are her "sisters." Dad and Mom are John and Elsie Benton, who founded the home in 1967 and named it for Walter Hoving, the one-time Tiffany and Company chairman who funded their work. (Incidentally, a couple of Mr. Hoving's descendants are named Petrea.)

The Walter Hoving Home is actually three homes: the original in Garrison, New York, another in Las Vegas, and the Pasadena branch, housed in what was originally Pasadena's Mira Monte Hotel.

The tour Teresa gave me began at the front door where you approach the reception desk (personed by a resident). To the left of the photo frame is a sign that greets you with your name on it. "Most of the women who come here have never been important enough to have their name on a sign," said Teresa. My heart warmed at seeing my name there, but I didn't photograph it for the sake of the privacy of the others listed. I probably could have, though. Nobody seemed to mind my presence, nor that of my camera. They welcomed me.

Teresa watches over lunch set-up in the dining room. 

The residents do all the work, from cleaning to cooking to chores. It's a lovely house, and for a while, it's their home.



Part 2 tomorrow.

23 comments:

LOLfromPasa said...

Super article, Petrea.

Kalei's Best Friend said...

Nice place of refuge for those women!. More cities should follow suit... btw did you notice towards the end of your post your font is smaller?

Petrea Burchard said...

Thanks, LOL. More to come tomorrow.

It felt like just that, KBF, a refuge.
And thanks for the tip. The type all looks the same on my screen but I went in and reset it anyway.

Desiree said...

The table in my nook is from one of their rummage sales---

altadenahiker said...

Often the places of refuge look depressing, both in building and location. This is a beautiful old hotel (?) in one of Pasadena's nicest areas, right around the corner from theaters, book stores, restaurants. How cool is that?

Petrea Burchard said...

Excellent choice, Desiree. They run entirely on donations.

Karin, this place is a palace, especially when compared to some of what these women have experienced. For the first part of their time there they don't do much exploring if they want to complete the program, but I get why it's a rule--there are a lot of dangers out there, especially for addicts.

TheChieftess said...

Wow!!! What a gorgeous spot to regroup and start life anew!!! Unlike any rehab center I've seen!!!

Petrea Burchard said...

Well, Teresa did make clear to me that it's not a rehab center. She emphasized that it's a home, a place for the women to live while they complete a course of study in preparation for getting back out into the world and rebuilding their lives. In that way, it's more like a sorority, though I wouldn't call it that either. It's unusual for sure.

Laura Monteros said...

I see ladies from Walter Hoving at Smart & Final every once-in-a-while. I always mean to send in a donation. You have pricked my conscience, Petrea.

BaysideLife said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BaysideLife said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Petrea Burchard said...

Well, bummer. I meant to delete one of Bayside's comments (they're both the same) and I lost both.

What Bayside said, or would have said had I not been so rude:
"A perfect place to begin to feel special again. The hotel got a second chance at a new life and hopefully so will the residents."

I think that's a nice analogy.

And Laura, I don't mean to prick anyone's conscience so much as make people aware. Some people don't want to give to a Christian charity because of their own religious reasons, and I get that. But I think the WHH is an interesting place, and it's been successful. I figure, whatever works.

Sarah said...

Ooh. I would love to work with these ladies. I hope you can make me an introduction!

Katie said...

Excellent post; they sure look like they're doing everything right there. I can see why it's a place where hugs are big!

Margaret said...

I'm so glad you did I this, Petrea. It was very interesting and it sounds like a great institution.

Petrea Burchard said...

Sarah, the info is in your email.

Katie, I felt hugged the moment I walked in the door. Actually, I felt hugged when I called to make the appointment.

Margaret, thank you. I'm glad, too.

I've written parts 2 and 3, so I hope you'll all stick around.

Ms M said...

Wonderful post! What a beautiful home! And it sounds like they provide a much needed service.

Bellis said...

I've driven down that street many times, and never noticed this lovely house. So grateful to learn about it, because I've seen friendly women outside Vroman's asking for donations, and never gave anything, thinking that as the name was a bit unusual and I'd never heard of it, they were perhaps not genuine. Now I will donate to them because it's such a worthwhile cause.

Bellis said...

The Wikipedia article about Walter Hoving was fascinating. He was so in control of his enterprises. I liked his business model for Tiffany's: stock only that which you yourself think is beautiful, and treat all people in the store as potential customers. Does it still apply? I'm scared to go into the Pasadena Tiffany's in case they suss out right away that I'll never be able to afford anything.

Petrea Burchard said...

Thank you, Ms. M. I think they do.

Bellis, I was just the opposite. I've been noticing the house for a very long time, just hadn't made the connection. I hope my posts do encourage people to donate.

Mr. Hoving didn't do the hands-on work at the homes. However, his funds made the whole thing possible. (He also required the customers to be respectful of the staff.) The Bentons have done a fantastic job, it seems, in stewarding his donation into three successful homes.

As far as Tiffany's, I haven't entered the store, either. But they'd do well to treat everyone like royalty. One never knows.

Susan Campisi said...

What a gorgeous building and as Karin points out, it's in a great location. How wonderful these women have the opportunity to live there and get a fresh start in life.

Anne said...

I wonder if a Pasadena Rehab could also look as beautiful as this?

Petrea Burchard said...

Anne, I've always wondered about that place. I thought it was a residence connected to the Fuller Theological Seminary. I don't know that the comparison is apt, as Walter Hoving Home is not a rehab center.