AZ Giving & Leading: MOMA’s House

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MOMA’s House is a Laveen-based organization that provides a safe place for women recovering from domestic violence abuse and human sex trafficking. Women at MOMA’s House each have their own room and complete a program to help them regain their lives. Maraion Douglas, who suffered from her own domestic violence, is the founder of MOMA’s House and the recipient of an “Angels Among Us” award. She will talk about her organization and her award.

Ted Simons: In tonight's edition of "Arizona Giving and Leading" we look at "MOMA's House", a home in the Valley where victims of domestic violence and sex trafficking can go for recovery programs. Marian Douglas is the founder and joins us to talk about her work. It's good to have you here, thanks for joining us.

Maraion Douglas: Thank you for having us.

Ted Simons: Give us an overview.

Maraion Douglas: Moma is an acronym, that is my own movement toward achievement. It's a safe house for women who have been victims of domestic violence and human sex trafficking.

Ted Simons: How do you find these women? How do they find you?

Maraion Douglas: Well, we work with the local and federal law enforcement. When we first started we reached out to the shelters for the women who were the victims of domestic violence, churches, word of mouth, just women who need assistance in changing their lives.

Ted Simons: That really is the mission, isn't it, just helping people who need the help.

Maraion Douglas: That's right, helping the women that need the help.

Ted Simons: Talk about what kind of programs and services.

Maraion Douglas: I'm an acronym queen because I was in corporate America for over 30 years. We have a program called AMOM, aspirations, outreach, and motivation. What does she aspire to be, because she's a victim of abuse. We help her build a development plan to reach her goals. Every woman has an individual life program. It may be she needs her GED, she may have her high school diploma and wants to go to college. We talk to them about careers, not just getting a job but thinking about a career and holding on to that job. Anybody can get a job but how do you hold on to it? We teach them to utilize the tools that are already out there in the community to help them to move forward in their journey.

Ted Simons: How do you instill this independent living skillset in folks, some of whom may not have even come close to thinking along those lines? Is there a progress that happens? How do you do that?

Maraion Douglas: We say when a woman walks through the door at MOMA's house, she comes there to feel, to deal and to heal. When she walks in, the feel part, we show love unconditionally. We just embrace them. We have a team of volunteers that help. Then we help them to deal with their issues and then we go into the healing process. Some women come through the doors that maybe the program does not work for them. But we try to help them in finding a program that does. A lot of the women have gone through very brutal beatings or whatever, and so we just try to love them and teach them that they are important, and that their lives do mean something. They can go beyond what was. We're living in what's going happen in the future for them.

Ted Simons: Now, does each woman have her own room?

Maraion Douglas: Every woman has their own room. It's important they have their own safe haven, so to speak. So they share common areas like the kitchen and the dining rooms but they have their own rooms. They don't visit in their rooms. Again, that's their safe place to go. When they want to have their own time. But we promote family, a lot of the young girls that are not really young girls but young women that come through the doors really haven't had that sense of family. It's very important to create that family atmosphere for them.

Ted Simons: Do they have children themselves?

Maraion Douglas: Some of them do have children, but their children have been placed in CPS or their children are grown. So we don't allow them to come with their children. During my research, I've found that the women who didn't have children or children were grown didn't have a place to go. If a woman goes to a shelter, there are shelters that accept children. If a single woman goes to a shelter, she's typically the last one to get in and the first with one to go if bed aren't available. So it's important for us to be able to have a safe haven for these women that don't have kids, or a woman that's getting out of prison and trying to be reunited with her children. We assist them in those areas, as well.

Ted Simons: What are the challenges in dealing with people who have been victimized, abused, are survivors and yet comes to MOMA's house from so many different directions. What are the challenges?

Maraion Douglas: The challenge is that we as a community have to understand that these women have gone through some rough times. We are not to judge them. We are to just love them and to help them to move forward. Financially a lot of the women can't get jobs. If a young girl has been a prostitute since she was 13 , and now she is or 18 or 19, where is she going to get a job? She has no skills. We have to build those job skills and life skills, just the love that she has to get for herself in order to move forward.

Ted Simons: Can be difficult, though? If someone comes to MOMA's house and acts out in a certain way, how difficult can it be for that unconditional love to try to rein in this young woman?

Maraion Douglas: I think it's the challenges you have with raising a child. You just say, look, this program is for you. If you want it, then it's here for you. If you don't, we understand. We have had women to leave the program and come back. We've had several to leave two or three times. Again, like you said, it is a challenge to give that unconditional love. But we are -- we believe in faith, and we believe that just like God loves us unconditionally, we are to love his children unconditionally.

Ted Simons: Speaking of faith, you were awarded an Angel on Earth. That was a very special honor.

Maraion Douglas: That was very exciting, the first and only one in Arizona. An angel, I call him John Scheimer, has a nonprofit, he feels there are earthly angels as well as heavenly angels. He identifies people such as me to thank them for the work they do, an award to thank them for what they do. I've been doing this for six years and I literally left my job to do MOMA's house. So it's -- I say that there are angels along the way, and John likes to identify those angels that are doing things that people don't know about. I tell people, there's a lot of Marian Douglases out here that have it in their hearts to be the difference in someone's life. The foundation identifies people like myself. You're out there watching, thinking about those people out there giving up themselves, and wanting to be the difference in someone's life. Anyone who wants to nominate someone, they can do that, and John urges them to do that. He goes all over the United States.

Ted Simons: What's next now for MOMA's house? As far as individual residents, what kind of expense are we talking about here?

Maraion Douglas: It literally costs MOMA's house $100 a day to house a woman. The women pay $300 a month, so that equates to $10 a day. It's very challenging when we haven't received any grants. We have a lot of donors that have given of themselves and given of funds. So we really need help in the financial grounds to open more doors. Ultimately that's what I'd like to do. I'd like to have a MOMA's house in every city and state that I can, to be able to help these young women who are victimized and now are survivors.

Ted Simons: Sounds like a great program, you're doing great work. Thank you.

Ted Simons: Thanks for joining us.

Maraion Douglas: Thank you.

Maraion Douglas:MOMA's House Founder and Recipient, Angels Among Us award;

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