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New Year, New and Improved Life Skills Program

January 11, 2011

For many years now, the Life Skills program at Calvary Women’s Services has offered a broad range of classes to help educate and empower the women who come to us. By engaging in classes like financial management and budgeting, nutrition, self-esteem, women’s health, and effective communication, the women at Calvary can build the necessary skills to improve their lives. This week on Calvary Comments, we are joined by guest blogger Mary McGregor. As our new Life Skills Coordinator, she would like to introduce herself and fill you in on some new and upcoming developments in Life Skills for the new year. Read on to hear more…

A woman's artwork from Mary's color therapy Life Skills class

As Calvary’s new Life Skills Coordinator, I am taking the initiative this year to make new additions to Calvary’s Life Skills program.  We have had a consistent dedicated group of volunteers teaching classes that stimulate self-awareness and expression: poetry, creative writing, and spirituality.  Now, the Life Skills program has invited more volunteers to engage the women at Calvary on topics such as self-esteem, grief & depression, and health.  These daily classes are well received by the residents, and I continuously hear from volunteers how personally enriching it can be to share their knowledge in a classroom setting.

I have also had the pleasure of teaching a Life Skills class.  My favorite and most memorable class has been art therapy. Art has consistently been my own form of relaxation for years.  I have taken several mixed media art classes and have been able to apply one of my past assignments for the art therapy class.  The women absolutely love art and are very receptive to hands-on projects.  My class discussed what colors correspond with what emotions.  The project consisted of gluing colored tissue paper down onto paper that represented our emotions.  As everyone placed colored tissue paper down on their paper, their emotions were released.  I was amazed at the balance, thought, and time each woman put into her multicolored creation.  There was an array of cheerful yellow, purple, and cool blue, as well as gloomier black, red, and white. We truly have fearless artists at Calvary Women’s Shelter.  One woman said, “I feel much more relaxed.  I was angry earlier, but now I feel so much better.”  Our Life Skills program not only consists of educational-content classes, but also classes that relax women’s minds to a place where they have “hope for tomorrow.”

The Life Skills program at Pathways will also be growing this year. Already, we have cooking & nutrition, arts & crafts, and journaling on the schedule. I am also working with other groups in the D.C. area to host a number of activities outside of the programs. I am so thankful for the shared excitement of our volunteers, staff, and residents, and I predict it is going to be an exciting year for Life Skills at Calvary!

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