Who We Serve - Lotus House serves women who are homeless, whether due to domestic violence, untreated medical or mental illness, disability, loss of employment, or other economic reasons, and includes a special maternity program for women who are homeless and pregnant and their infants. Women come to Lotus House through referrals from homeless outreach, youth programs and schools, shelters, safe houses, treatment programs, hospitals and courts, as well as the streets. At least 50% of women admitted to Lotus House have been chronically homeless or suffered extended/multiple periods of homelessness, 80% report suffering domestic violence, child abuse and/or violent crimes, and 35% have substance abuse histories. At least 10% are over 60 - with some in their 80’s as Lotus House has no upper age limit, and approximately 10% are 21 years of age and under, in some cases aging out of foster care. The common threads amongst all women served by Lotus House are trauma and the need to heal. For many, it is a shelter of last resort, as time spent in temporary shelters does not afford them an opportunity to address untreated medical and mental illnesses, secure work, and save funds to secure affordable housing. Unfortunately, all too often, those with the greatest challenges are least able to navigate the legal and administrative hurdles to receiving much needed care and benefits. With complex needs to be addressed, Lotus House provides women and children shelter, sanctuary, support, tools and resources needed for lasting change. So much more than a typical shelter, Lotus House is a place of growth and transformation where women and children blossom into who they are truly meant to be.
Empowering Women to Succeed - With multi-faceted, comprehensive and coordinated programming, Lotus House seeks to support, connect, uplift, and empower these special women and children to succeed. Our facilities house over 100 women and children on a daily basis in a gender-specific, holistic, innovative format with programming that is designed educate, uplift and empower to truly break the cycle of homelessness. Each woman accepted into the Lotus House has an individual action plan for improving her quality of life on every level, achieving greater self-sufficiency, and transitioning to alternate permanent housing. In addition to shelter, food and clothing, Lotus House provides access to a wide range of support services and resources such as medical and mental health treatment, educational workshops, tutoring, computer classes, job training and placement, and legal referrals, as a well as a host of enrichment activities such as art, yoga, creative writing, dance, crafts and so much more. Pre-natal care, birthing and parenting classes and early infant medical care and screening are provided to pregnant women and their infants, along with needed maternity and infant supplies. Lotus House counselors and resource coordinators meet with each woman weekly for life coaching, individual and group counseling, social services support, and referrals to a wide range of community resources to assist her in fulfilling her action plan. Though the Foundation seeks to provide the resources and support essential to achieving individual action plans, each woman’s success is her own and the Lotus House is about empowering these special women to become whole again and truly who they were meant to be.
Maternity and Infant Services – In the first year of operations, we anguished over the desperation of women who were homeless and pregnant, facing discrimination in employment, struggling to obtain proper nutrition, in need of medical and mental health care, and of course, lacking a safe home and support system for themselves and their babies. We heard wrenching stories of babies taken at birth because the moms lacked a safe home and proper support system. One young woman described her tearful pleas as she approached a police officer outside a grocery store pleading for help for the baby in her arms because she was homeless, starving, and unable to purchase formula or care for her baby; taken from her immediately by the officer, this mother was unable to navigate the legal proceedings that followed because she lacked a safe secure home and support system for herself and her baby. Grief-stricken, she never recovered her infant. When Lotus House first opened, it was forced to turn away this very needy, fragile population of mothers-to-be and infants because it lacked adequate facilities for their special needs. Thankfully, our prayers for these women and infants were answered by a kind benefactor who donated the funds to enable the Foundation to open a special maternity building in March of 2007, dedicated to serving women who are homeless and pregnant and their infants. Our program has expanded since then to allow us to serve at least 37 families at a time.
The maternity program of Lotus House provides a home for up to 37 moms or mothers-to-be and up to 40 infants and toddlers at a time. In addition to providing basic services such as housing, food, and clothing, Lotus House arranges for pre-natal care, birthing and parenting classes, and infant development screening and medical care, along with needed maternity and baby supplies. Each mother-to-be works closely with her resource coordinator at the Lotus House to access available services and benefits for herself and her baby, and of course our full programming and support services are there to assist our mothers-to-be and moms and babies as they begin their new lives together. Following the birth of her child, each woman works with our employment specialist for assistance in re-entering the work world, day care for her child, learning how to juggle her new role as a mother with her employment, and saving her nest egg for her future transition to a permanent home with her new infant. When mom and baby are ready to move, Lotus House helps them get settled in their new homes, by providing donated furnishings, linens, dishes and kitchen necessities, as well as special needs items for babies like cribs, hi-chairs, strollers, car seats, and supplies. Following their transition, Lotus House continues to serve as an ongoing resource with post-exit follow-up to provide stability to these new families.
Lotus House is unique in Miami Dade County in providing free housing for up to a year with a full continuum of resources and support services specifically designed to address the special needs of women who are pregnant and their infants, to ensure these fragile families can look forward to a safe, secure and better way of life. Since opening our program for mothers and mothers to be, we have sheltered hundreds of children, and we are the proud mothers to over 75 newborns, with more on the way, who will some day call Lotus House their first home.
Counseling and Health and Wellness Basic medical, dental and eye care, as well as mental health treatment, are an urgent priority for every woman and child accepted at Lotus House. Lack of affordable mental health care and medical services are among the most critical issues to be addressed in truly breaking the cycle of homelessness. At least 80% of the women accepted into the Lotus House suffer from untreated medical conditions, mental health issues, or both upon entry. Too often substance abuse is a form of self medication for those suffering from untreated mental illness and we see first-hand the barriers to success for women who cannot see or read properly, or are afraid to smile because of missing teeth, or worse still, cannot eat the food we provide because they desperately need dentures. If a woman is not healthy, balanced and stable, we know her chances of successfully accomplishing her goals for a safe, secure and stable permanent home and life for herself and her children are greatly diminished.
With a body, mind and spirit paradigm, Lotus House strives to address the medical and mental health needs of the women and children at the shelter in holistic ways that are both supportive and empowering. Lotus House works closely with each woman to address her individual medical and mental health needs in a comprehensive fashion, providing her with the stability essential to making positive changes in her life on every level. Full time health and wellness coordinators at Lotus House make referrals for each woman immediately upon entry for basic medical and wellness exams, an eye exam and glasses if needed, and dental care, as well as a mental health assessment. Prenatal care, birthing and parenting classes, and early infant medical care and screening are arranged for all women and children at Lotus House in cooperation with the Healthy Start program, to ensure our moms and babies are healthy and happy as they begin their new lives together.
In 2010, the Lotus Wellness Center LLC opened a free "Good Samaratin" health clinic on-site at Lotus House. The clinic is staffed by volunteers, including the Department of Community Service of the University of Miami Miller School Medicine. The free clinic provides women's wellness exams and many referrals to health care providers across the community.
In addition to addressing physical health and well being, Lotus House offers on-site, personalized counseling in an informal setting to every woman, through a full time, licensed clinical social worker and our resource coordinators. Weekly individual and group counseling give each woman an opportunity to address her personal issues and share in support groups for healing and growth, focused on managing emotions, low self esteem, grief, depression, stress relief, sobriety and domestic abuse. A wide range of classes, educational seminars and guest lectures are offered by trained instructors as well as volunteers on topics such as healthy lifestyles, good nutrition, preventive health care, planned parenthood, relaxation techniques, meditation and the importance of exercise. With an emphasis on preventive health care and well being, Lotus House utilizes a holistic approach to serving, educating, nurturing and inspiring women, and embraces alternative therapies and pathways to healing, health and well being in addition to improved access to basic care.
Social Services and Resource Coordination – With a multi-faceted, comprehensive and coordinated approach, Lotus House seeks to support, connect, uplift, and empower these special women and children to succeed. Each woman accepted has an individual action plan for improving her quality of life on every level, achieving greater self-sufficiency, and transitioning to permanent housing within one year. Based on a body, mind and spirit paradigm, each action plan covers the full range of issues needing attention, including physical health and well being, mental health, social services benefits, educational needs, job training and placement, legal and financial issues, housing and relocation assistance, and steps to transitioning to a new home. Lotus House counselors and resource coordinators meet with each woman weekly for life coaching, individual and group counseling, social services support, and referrals to a wide range of community resources to assist her in fulfilling her action plan. Lotus House seeks to provide the full continuum of resources, tools and education needed for each woman to fulfill her action plan and truly break the cycle of homelessness.
Computer Classes, Tutoring and Literacy Program – Basic instruction in computers and use of the internet is offered to all women in our computer classroom at Lotus House because we know how important computer and internet skills are to daily living, keeping abreast of world events, locating housing, researching medical conditions and available treatment, exploring educational options, securing benefits and employment, and virtually every other aspect of life today in our community in this information age. When classes are not in session, women are free to use the computers at their leisure for research and education. Lotus House also provides basic tutoring for enhanced reading, writing and arithmetic skills, as well as English literacy. Individual tutoring and classes utilize volunteer instructors from local universities and colleges, as well as professional instructors. A library and daily newspapers in English and Spanish, as well as a book club, provide alternative avenues for learning about the world. Lotus House also assists women in exploring community resources and financial aid to further their education, including GED courses, vocational instruction and community college.
Job Readiness Training – Lack of job readiness and training are among the most critical issues to be addressed to truly break the cycle of homelessness for those capable of working. With employment and life skills specialists, Lotus House provides individual guidance and coaching as well as essential tools to prepare women to enter the work world, find a job, and succeed with their new employer. Geared toward empowerment, job readiness training includes instruction and individual assistance in resume preparation, interview skills, dressing for success with our donated clothing, searching and applying for employment, placement, and follow-up. Lotus House provides information on job training programs in the community, facilitates participation in local job fairs, and assists women in exploring available employment options. Everyone has access to computers, basic office equipment (such as copiers, fax machines, postage, etc.), office and paper supplies, public transportation tokens to and from job interviews, and day care assistance for those with children. Support groups led by our employment and life skills specialists focus on identifying and successfully overcoming the challenges of re-entering the work world and how to succeed once hired in their new positions.
In addition, throughout the year, Lotus House offers a week-long (minimum 40 hours instruction), intensive food prep and job training course, taught by a professional chef, covering basic food prep, kitchen safety, meal preparation, and food career paths. The graduation meal is always a cause for celebration at the Lotus House and includes a gourmet meal on par with the best restaurants in Miami! In a heartwarming ceremony attended by the house and guests alike, graduates receive food handler state certification and a Lotus House certificate of completion, both of which assist them in readily securing employment in the restaurant and food industry. Participation in the course is followed by coaching and placement assistance from the employment specialist of Lotus House. In a competitive job market, having these certifications truly make a difference and empower the Lotus House graduates to successfully enter, in some cases for the first time, the food industry.
At Lotus House Thrift, women learn the basics of the retail industry including sales, customer service, register skills, inventory and stock room assistance, and pick-up and delivery service. Our thrift store receives donations from accross the community to clothe the women and children of Lotus House, provide interview and work attire, and help furnish the apartments of our alumni as they transition to thier new homes. The thrift store serves as a working classroom providing real world work experience to assist those entering for the first time or re-entering the workforce. It serves as an essential springboard to permanent employment in the community.
Basic Life Skills – Basic life skills, such as, planning, shopping for and preparing healthy, low fat, meals on a limited budget; safe exercise and healthy living; financial literacy and budgeting; accessing the public transportation system; and even sewing (especially when you are rely on donated clothing), are essential to preparing for independent living. Lotus House life skills programming includes a wide ranging series of workshops and experiences, coordinated by our full time program coordinator, to prepare women for independent living. Women also share in the responsibilities for the daily operation and up-keep of Lotus House, building basic life skills and all important team work and socialization skills as they prepare for their new lives.
Arts and Enrichment Activities – At Lotus House, we believe art is spiritual – through art, we find our creative source, give voice to our deepest suffering, fears, hopes and dreams, and explore our shared humanity. The walls of the Lotus House are graced with contemporary art by and about women. Art in its many forms – visual, sound, dance, meditation, poetry and creative writing – is integral to the Lotus House experience, providing alternative pathways to healing, self exploration and creative expression. The visual arts programming includes painting, collage, photography, quilt making, clay, tie dying, and beadwork, offered in cooperation with Florida International University’s graduate student program and a wide range of talented volunteer instructors. Sound and dance include a variety of musical concerts, hip hop dancing, yoga, and meditation and inspirational groups. As with all of our enrichment activities, the creative writing workshops offer an opportunity for individual growth and to share the experiences and company of others. Over tea each Sunday afternoon, the group explores topics ranging from hope, love, suffering, homelessness, freedom and life itself, to answers to the question “who am I,” a special favorite. Field trips to artists’ studios, museums, movies, musical performances and the beach provide new and thought provoking learning experiences for everyone at varied times throughout the year. In the process, we explore the capacity of art to touch and uplift those most in need and are reminded of our profound interconnectedness.
Shared Community – The isolation of homelessness is replaced with lasting friendships and a sense of shared community for the women who call Lotus House their home. Lotus House provides a respectful, non-institutional, shared living environment with thoughtfully appointed living spaces for quiet reflection and art-filled community spaces to remind us we are all interconnected. The lushly landscaped gardens of the Lotus House include a courtyard fountain and herb garden, lotus pond and walking path, offering a sanctuary for healing and sharing. Community facilities include a professional kitchen for meal prep (that doubles as a teaching classroom for the job training program), laundry, yoga and exercise area, ‘baby and me’ corner for playful exercise, computer classroom, library and sewing corner, counseling rooms, and a health clinic (in process). Women share in the responsibilities for the daily operation and up-keep of the Lotus House, with chores including meal prep, laundry, cleaning, and grounds upkeep, all the while building basic life skills, teamwork and strong community. Support groups that encourage self expression and sharing are a part of daily life and programming, covering topics ranging from self esteem and sexuality to celebrating sobriety. Just as important, Lotus House knows how to have “fun” – with movie nights in English and Spanish (complete with popcorn), spirited game nights, karaoke that breaks into peals of laughter and dancing, “shopping” at our “free flea market” (and dressing up with donated clothing), and lots and lots of birthday celebrations! The support and sense of shared community of the women who call Lotus House their home is essential to each woman’s success, but it also makes for lasting friendships and many Lotus House volunteers long after they have moved on to their new homes.
A New Life And A Secure Home – Resource coordinators work closely with each woman to assist her as she prepares to leave Lotus House in identifying and securing new homes, including independent or supportive housing, assisted living facilities or nursing homes for those with special needs, and sometimes even reconciliation with family. They help identify rental housing support, navigate the administrative hurdles of Section 8 programs, and advocate for scarce supportive housing placements. They assist them in preparing their monthly budgets of income and expenses for their new life. As each woman moves out, she and her children are provided with donated furnishings, such as beds, linens, dishes and kitchen tools and relocation assistance. In many instances, Lotus House works closely with other community groups, such as the Junior League of Miami, to help them “set up house,” so to speak. Our resource coordinators and volunteers regularly follow-up with women in the first year of their new lives to assist them in making the transition to independent living and identify additional resources that may be needed. We want every woman who has called Lotus House her home to know that it will continue serve as a resource and all are welcome as volunteers and friends for generations to come!
Homeless Trust The Miami Dade County Homeless Trust requests thats we post the following Privacy Notice pertaining to guests of Lotus House covered by their information management system.