Executive Director's Report
By Sr. Marguerite Bartling, RGS, MSW
We are happy to announce that Good Shepherd Gracenter is expanding its services, bringing our total capacity to thirteen women. This addition is in response to the many women who call us after they finish a drug & alcohol treatment program, yet find themselves without a safe place to live or support. They express a desire to live in a positive peer community and want the recovery mentoring offered by Gracenter.
We not only look for ways to expand our services as a licensed recovery residence, but we also try to be of service to the broader community of the Bay Area. During the Christmas season and throughout the year, some women and staff feed the hungry or help out at a food pantry. This year, as a special outreach project, we plan to wear our new hand-screened Gracenter T-shirts and distribute personal hygiene gift packets of soap, shampoo and other toiletries to the homeless of San Francisco.
The season of Christmas is a time of love, generosity and sharing. Thank you for all your support of Gracenter and for being a part of our Mission. May God’s own peace fill your hearts and homes.
Sr. Marguerite Bartling RGS, MSW
Executive Director, Gracenter
By: Lisa, Resident at Good Shepherd Gracenter
Good Shepherd Gracenter exists to give women a solid chance at life-long recovery. Lisa is a current resident who has faced many challenges in her personal journey. In the following article, she tells her story in her own words.
My name is Lisa and I want to take a moment to let you know about my experience with the criminal justice system. I started my journey through the system at 21 years of age. I was a person who did what ever I wanted and didn’t mind the consequences. I was stubborn and had to live life my way. Because I would not reach out for help, I continued to run the streets, use drugs and commit crimes. If you were someone in authority, I looked at you different and with a bad attitude.
The more I continued to get locked up, the more I lost. One of the most important things that I lost was myself and who I really was. My sons were lost for many years and without their mother. I had to give them to their father to be raised because my own life was so out of control and unmanageable. Even though I hated to be told what to do, hated to be in a cold, dirty jail or prison...in some strange way, jail was a break from the mean streets.
Released again, I felt suffocated like a butterfly trapped in a jar. I became desperate and asked for help. The turning point in my life was when my brother suggested I enter a treatment program and my sons drove me to San Francisco. I became willing and honest with myself; guilt and shame slowly subsided. I take responsibility for my life. I am continuing my education, I have a job and I’m learning to budget and save. I’m fixing the wreckage of my past. After completing the treatment program, I entered Good Shepherd Gracenter, a licensed recovery residence owned and operated by the Sisters of Good Shepherd. This is where my restorative justice process began. I needed to make amends to my family, my community and myself. I take responsibility for my life. I am continuing my education, I have a job and I’m learning to budget and save. I’m fixing the wreckage of my past, I volunteer in my community as a mentor. I’m learning social and communication skills. I’m a good mother, a good friend and a good neighbor. I have character and integrity. I like the woman I’ve become. I thank the Gracenter staff, Sisters and peers for believing in me and supporting me through this amazing journey and I thank God who has allowed me to be present emotionally and spiritually.
Gracenter Staff Profile:
Sr. Anna Tram Nguyen, RGS
Entering the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 2003, Sr. Anna Tram came to in San Francisco in 2008 to further her education at the University of San Francisco and to learn about the Mission of Gracenter by serving as one of its staff members. In 2010, Sr. Tram completed her Final Vows as a Sister of the Good Shepherd as well as obtaining her BA at USF. The Sisters of the Good Shepherd are an international community of Catholic Sisters dedicated to helping girls, women and families in over 71 countries around the world. Currently, all Sisters, as part of their training, have the experience of living and serving in a different country and culture. Sr. Anna Tram shown at an innovative Good Shepherd Program in Baguio, Philippines, designed to help aspiring students earn money to further their education by making and selling baked goods.
Entering the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in 2003, Sr. Anna Tram came to in San Francisco in 2008 to further her education at the University of San Francisco and to learn about the Mission of Gracenter by serving as one of its staff members. In 2010, Sr. Tram completed her Final Vows as a Sister of the Good Shepherd as well as obtaining her BA at USF.
The Sisters of the Good Shepherd are an international community of Catholic Sisters dedicated to helping girls, women and families in over 71 countries around the world. Currently, all Sisters, as part of their training, have the experience of living and serving in a different country and culture.
Sr. Anna Tram shown at an innovative Good Shepherd Program in Baguio, Philippines, designed to help aspiring students earn money to further their education by making and selling baked goods.
During 2011, Sr. Tram had a year-long opportunity to serve in various programs run by the Sisters of the Good Shepherd in the Philippine Islands. There she helped at an innovative program designed for aspiring students to earn money for further education by baking and selling specialty food items in Baguio. She also helped at a shelter for abused children near Manila and taught in a Good Shepherd School in Batangas. Presently, Sr. Tram serves both as a Pastoral Support Sister at Gracenter, helping women explore their personal spirituality as part of their recovery, and as a valuable staff member.
Q: What inspired you to join the Sisters of the Good Shepherd?
A: When I chose to become a Sister, I just wanted to be with people. I wanted to let people in need to know that they have support. It is important that they know someone is willing to be there with them and walk with them on their journey in life. I was attracted to become a Sister of the Good Shepherd because I saw the Sisters doing exactly that through their compassionate service to women and girls in need.
Q: How would you describe your recent year of international service in Good Shepherd programs in the Philippine Islands?
A: My trip was an amazing experience. I discovered that serving people is not just a matter of how many people you help, but rather how much you love and care for them; the quality of care. Maybe it wasn’t a totally new discovery for me, but rather a deepening of my belief in human goodness. During that year in the Philippines, I lived in poverty, not knowing the language, the culture or the people, but through it all, my love for people and service to those in need really grew. I enjoyed them and appreciated them, and the return was truly one hundred fold.
Q: In your service to women in recovery at Gracenter, what impresses you the most?
A: What touches me is seeing how the women really change during their stay here. I make an effort to be available to the women and tell them I am here for them as they start their new life. It encourages me to see how they don’t give up. Their life is difficult, and through it all they have the dream of a better future for themselves. And they work hard to make their dreams a reality.