CJCJ's Cameo House Celebrates International Women's Day
Cameo House staff
This International Women's Day, CJCJ's Cameo House could not imagine "A Day Without a Woman." Cameo House, San Francisco's first alternative sentencing program serving homeless mothers with children, is managed by an all-female staff who provide residential treatment and self-sufficiency without separating families. Our staff mentor women through their individual struggles, and help manage their lives and improve parent- child relationships. Through the help of the program, residents come to realize they are priceless members of both the Cameo House family and our community.
The program Cameo House has been hailed as a model local practice and is directed by Jefferson Award winner and community-trailblazer, Shirley Lamarr. Prior to directorship at Cameo House, Shirley was the powerhouse behind San Mateo County's Choices Program, where she focused on recovery rather than punishment, and enabled those in her program to break the cycle of crime and incarceration. But before she became a community leader, Shirley battled her own demons with drugs and street life. After being incarcerated, she decided to enroll in the Delancey Street Foundation program where she turned her life around and became a mentor for other people facing challenges similar to those she had overcome.
Cameo House Program Manager Nichole Pettway had a similar past which she shared this year with The Welcome Home Project —a collection of stories from formerly incarcerated men and women who turned their lives around. Nichole spent five years in county jails and eight years in California prisons. After surviving traumatic childhood experiences, Nichole became involved in drugs, the sex trade, identity theft, and forging checks as a teenager.
In her Welcome Home Project piece, Nichole writes, "Drugs don’t allow you to feel your feelings. When I gave birth to a daughter who was addicted to crack, that did not even hit me. . . When I finally realized that I had a disease that affected my behavior and character, things started to change." Now, Nichole is a Certified Addictions Treatment Counselor and is completing her Bachelor’s Degree. Her adult children are in her life and she is able to be a physically and emotionally available parent.
These are the kinds of achievements we hope our Cameo residents will also experience — to not only survive, but to thrive. Many are enrolled in higher education, addressing addicition, and taking the steps to become successul women and parents. This International Women's Day, we celebrate our staff and our residents for the work they do for themselves and for each other.
Happy International Women's Day from Cameo House!
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