December 2011 – A quiet, reserved woman, Alma came to Lotus House at age 55, with no hope and nowhere to go. Born into a home ravaged by violence and alcoholism, and from a young age, was raised by her grandmother. As an adult, Alma experienced the all-too-familiar cycle of violence, victimized by violent domestic relationships, suffering from depression and addiction. When her partner passed away, she ended up alone and homeless, where her health declined rapidly. Suffering from multiple serious, chronic afflictions, and with no health insurance nor income, her treatment was nearly nonexistent.
Alma knew the Lotus House in her Overtown neighborhood (the historic African American district, one of the poorest neighborhoods in Miami, one of America’s poorest large cities) as a community resource center, and would often come by for meals. Lotus House staff met with Alma frequently, and referred her to a substance abuse treatment program. Wanting to start life anew, Alma successfully completed treatment, and was able to move into the Lotus House. There she received medical care for the first time in years. Volunteer doctors at Lotus Wellness Center, the onsite free clinic, provided an in depth evaluation and health screenings, referring her for specialty care and intensive individual and group psychotherapy to address her deep-seated traumas. Additionally, the Lotus House team assisted her in obtaining much-needed Social Security disability income and Medicaid benefits. In this safe environment, with steady nourishing meals, support from counseling and recovery meetings, Alma slowly began to heal. Her health improved dramatically, and when her SSI benefits and her housing application were finally approved, Alma was ready to live independently. In October 2014, she moved into a supportive housing program apartment for those in recovery.
Lotus House specializes in serving individuals like Alma with complex needs, providing a trauma-informed, non-institutional environment where the minds, bodies and spirits of women, youth and children experiencing homelessness can heal and thrive. Lotus House provides sanctuary, support, education, tools and resources that empower them to improve the quality of their lives on every level, achieve greater self sufficiency, and build safe, secure lives. To date, Allegany Franciscan Ministries has contributed $100,000 in support of Lotus House; ensuring women like Alma are able to heal, grow and transition to safe homes off the streets, enriching the entire community with their realized potential.