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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Walter Hoving Home, 2

Continuing from yesterday:

Many of the women at the Walter Hoving Home come there from jail. Others are literally found on the streets of neighborhoods I avoid, by founders John and Elsie Benton. John Benton's little red book, One Lady at a Time, recounts harrowing adventures of witnessing about Jesus in places where I might think he's a kook to go. But the man gets results: For the most part (85%), these women do not go back to the streets.

(The book is free and I have a few copies, so email me if you want one, or send for it by clicking the link.)

 
Some would say the heart of a home is the kitchen. At the Walter Hoving Home, the heart is the Learning Center. Here, residents focus on the teachings of Jesus, and pretty much nothing else. For the first year or so a woman lives in the Walter Hoving Home, she doesn't watch TV, surf the web, or even read library books. She learns about Jesus Christ.

Oh--and please note the chandeliers, ceiling fans and columns as we go.

As I mentioned yesterday, the women do all the chores in the Home. (Even though the heart of this home may not be the kitchen, apparently working there is a blast.)

Larissa, at left in red, is in charge of "Blessingdale's," the basement cache of clean clothing, where each woman can "shop" for what she needs. No money changes hands; these items are donated (hint hint), and what the Home can't use is donated in turn to the Acts Thrift Store, a popular Pasadena resale shop also associated with Christian causes.

Teresa Wolf, Associate Director of the Walter Hoving Home, shows me around

The second floor is like a dormitory. Over the door of each room is a plaque with a word like "cheerfulness" or "loveliness" on it. There's a separate room where a woman can stay with her children when they come to visit. While you live at the Walter Hoving Home, you will be in company almost all the time.

(Another way to donate is to "adopt" a room. An old building like this always wants renovation to keep it up.)

The women learn that it's okay to love themselves. There's also an awareness that they're vulnerable to missteps. Therefore, their lives are very structured. Everyone works and studies all day. Meals are at an exact time. Each woman must raise a minimum of $500 in monthly donations while she stays there (although Teresa told me no one will be kicked out if she can't make it). This is why you'll see them at tables outside stores from time to time, handing out Mr. Benson's little red book.

It's not a prison or a rehab center. It's a choice the women have made in order to get a handle on chaotic lives.

I asked Teresa what happens if a woman doesn't get, or doesn't want to get, the Jesus part? "We'll find them another place," she said. "We don't think we're right for everybody. We're right for us."


Part 3 tomorrow.

16 comments:

Kalei's Best Friend said...

I can't believe how beautiful this place is... the women definitely look happy and at peace!.

Petrea Burchard said...

Yeah, KBF. I think having responsibility to others can be important. Knowing people are dependent on you is a motivator.

LOLfromPasa said...

It is fantastic that you have been given the opportunity to photograph and share with us what goes on behind the scenes at Walter Hoving Home. Looking forward to the 3rd installment tomorrow, Petrea.

Petrea Burchard said...

"Opportunity" is the word, Lauren. This is a private home and I've always wondered about it.

Bellis said...

I didn't realize each woman had to raise money. I will make a donation next time I see them by Vroman's.

altadenahiker said...

I don't know enough about the organization to comment, other than I wish all these women the very best.

TheChieftess said...

This looks like a well run facility. And a happy place to re structure one's life. An 85% success rate is phenomenal!!! This is a cause I would happily support when down south...

Petrea Burchard said...

Me too.

Bellis said...

Interestingly, when Charles Dickens set up a home in London for women in the mid 1800s, he planned it very much on the lines of the Hoving Home, with the women wearing nice clothes, making one another's beds, preparing the meals, and praying twice a day. It was very successful. I wonder if there's a connection?

Petrea Burchard said...

I haven't the slightest idea, Bellis. I didn't know Dickens had done such a thing. I'd thought he was kind of a misogynist.

Ms M said...

Fascinating photo essay! It sounds like the "program" is effective in helping these women get their lives on track.

Bellis said...

Dickens loved women! He was disappointed that his wife kept having boys, as he wanted girls. And he was very concerned about the plight of girls that had been abandoned to the streets of London. I'm very much enjoying the biography of Dickens by Claire Tomalin.

Petrea Burchard said...

I don't remember that from the Peter Ackroyd bio! Then again, I don't remember my own address half the time.

Susan Campisi said...

I love the women posing in the back of the kitchen. Yep, they look cheerful. This is an interesting series, Petrea.

Anne said...

I've a question. Can this serve as a Pasadena Rehab too?

Petrea Burchard said...

Anne, your comments are looking a little like spam but for now I'm leaving them up in case someone needs the link. In the future, if you want to direct peoples' attention to a place like the Gooden Center, just say so.

As we've already mentioned in these posts, the Walter Hoving Home is not a rehab facility.