The Gatehouse mission is to empower women and children in crisis to end cycles of abuse and poverty for themselves and future generations. We provide a place and program that offers safe refuge, ample time, practical resources and healthy relationships needed to help families heal and build new lives.
Members are provided financial support through Phases I & II but are required to pay an income-based co-pay fee for childcare, counseling, and vehicle maintenance expenses. Co-pay fees will never exceed 10% of the member's income and provides the member an opportunity to have ownership for the living expenses they incur. At Phase III, members are completely responsible for their living expenses to simulate their budget in the community. This allows members and advisor opportunities to readjust budgets as needed to ensure the members will have a realistic financial expectation to be successful after graduation.
Today is a very special day for me because not only do I get to share a little of my story with you but by complete coincidence today is also my official graduation day from the Gatehouse program.
But to understand why the past two and half years have been so life changing you must first understand where I started and the story I carried for so many years. At the young age of 20 I married my "high school sweetheart, my boyfriend of three tumultuous years. And slowly over 16yrs I slipped into a heavy fog of lies and abuse both physical and mental. A comment here and there, a heated argument, a few "trivial" bruises, being trapped in a room or taunted to jump from a high-speed vehicle became my normal. Until one day my abuser offered me an out. Suddenly, he was demanding a divorce. He wanted our business and I wanted our children. We signed the papers and I frantically began packing, strapped my boys into their car seats and I didn't stop driving until I drove past the state line. I was terrified he would change his mind before we could escape, but escape we did. Armed with only my education, a mother's fierce love and a whole lot of faith, we left beautiful Telluride, Colorado and made our home in in Grapevine, a city we had never even visited.
Over the next year I started to rebuild my life. Trying to support my family, I worked multiple jobs, often putting in 15 hr days but I made it work. That is until he emailed me one Monday morning telling me he was moving to Dallas in 3 days. Shortly after arriving he took me back to court, but this time he was seeking full custody of our children. I continued to press forward, excelling in my job and getting a wonderful promotion but the attorney bills kept coming. One day I read in the local Grapevine Paper about an amazing facility opening in the Spring called The Gatehouse. A place for women in crisis. It sounded incredible. But it wasn't for me, after all I had a job, I had a college degree, I had been a successful business owner, they would never take me. Never the less I neatly folded the article and decide to save it…just in case.
Fast forward a few months and the struggle had become even more intense. As I set crying one morning I read the paper and the headline said "The Gatehouse Grapevine Opens" Again my heart tugged at the thought of such a haven actually existing but again I dismissed the thought of it being for me. However, this time I decide to save the article AND recommend it to a friend. By September of that year my credit cards were maxed out with attorney fees and my hope was fleeting. Then one night my friend (the one I had actually recommended the program to) came to me and said "Cassandra this program was made for YOU." That little encouragement is all I needed, I filled out the application and said a simple prayer for direction…two days later I got a phone call tat we had been accepted and the lives of myself and my children have been forever changed for the good.
Through the counseling services at the gatehouse I have tackled my PTSD, gained back myself confidence and learned to co-parent with my ex. My children have had a safe place to work through their anxieties and troubles transitioning.
My gatehouse advisor has guide me to financial health. In fact, I have paid off close to $75 thousand dollars in debt and saved enough to feel secure in transitioning out on my own.
Through a special speaker series and the career development program I have made wonderful contacts that have led to career path in pharmaceutical logistics.
But one of my biggest accomplishment will be realized this December when I graduate with my Executive Master's Degree from one of the top programs in the country. A dream I never thought I would see come true.
As I share my story I can't help but think of the video that started our program today and of my friend Paula sharing her memory of driving through the gates for the first time. My memory of September 29th, 2015 is pulling through the gates and coming to the stop sign and seeing the name of our new street Hope Circle. Not Hope Lane and Not Hope Drive but Hope Circle. I find that very fitting after all a circle as no beginning and it has no end. Just like hope. You see this world would have you believe that hope can be stolen from us and that is simply not true. My hope was hidden in the fog for many years but through the compassion and generosity of people just like you The Gatehouse helped me clear the fog and find my hope.
- Member of The Gatehouse