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Saving the Lives of Moms Every Day

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Saving the Lives of Moms Every Day

Over the weekend, families across the country celebrated Mother’s Day. For a young kid, the worst thing in the world would be to lose their mom to an early death. This heartbreaking reality is happening all too often throughout Western New York, as the opioid epidemic is still raging.

Thankfully, communities are coming together to advocate for more services for their mothers, daughters, sisters, and neighbors. Lockport and Niagara County specifically both need more help and treatment for this deadly disease.

Earlier this year, the mayor of Lockport held a forum to educate her constituents on services available in her community. Madonna House, which is located in Lockport, is crucial to providing hope for women and their families.

Exciting Changes at Madonna House

We know that providing hope is so important to what we do. Our staff members reflect this, including the two newest ones at Madonna House. Katrina Norris, LMHC, is Madonna House’s new program manager, and Cat Deegan, LMSW, is the new clinical coordinator. Together, Katrina and Cat provide leadership and direction for the rest of the staff at the program.

While these two leaders are both new to the program, all of the staff at Madonna House never lost sight of the program’s goal: to help women and their families with substance use disorders. Katrina and Cat recognize this, and they’ve been promoting the individual strengths of each staff member to help best engage the women at the program.

Katrina Norris, LMHC & Cat Deegan, LMSW

Community Engagement at the Program

Speaking of the individual strengths of staff members, creativity is currently contagious at the program. With the help of staff, Madonna House residents recently created origami flowers for a Hospice Buffalo event. It was a wonderful gesture that gave residents a chance to appreciate all that they had in their lives. Cat hopes to develop more community engagement opportunities like this in the future.

Through these connections, Katrina and Cat hope to change the stigma about substance use in Lockport. “No one ever says, ‘I want this lifestyle’,” Katrina said. She and Cat both hope that the community will seek out understanding about the disease.

“They’re really good people,” said Katrina of her residents. “There’s so much more behind the person besides the disease.” Cat added: “We don’t know what they’re capable of until we give them the opportunity.” Keeping this focus on the potential of the women in our program ensures that we’re providing them with the best possible services.

The Need for More Help

Regrettably, the best services don’t make a difference if there aren’t enough of them. Waitlists at providers of all different kinds throughout Niagara County and Lockport are extensive. This means that people may have to wait a long time before getting the help they need. Sadly, accessing help right when it’s needed most can mean the difference between life and death.

At the moment, the need is so stark that people may be forced to drive almost an hour to access help. In her previous role with another agency, Katrina pointed out that she saw people coming from all over Niagara County to attend outpatient treatment in West Seneca and Orchard Park. “These services aren’t as easy to find [in Niagara County],” she said. Cat went a step further and identified a specific gap: “There’s huge need for housing in Niagara County.”

Adding a Face to the Disease

Kayla, a resident at Madonna House, agrees with Cat on the lack of services in Niagara County. “There is not enough,” she said. “I’m struggling so hard to find housing.” While there are some services available for women, there is definitely not enough for women who want to live with their children.

Kayla, a resident at Madonna House
Kayla, a resident at Madonna House

Kayla said that she’d like to stay in Niagara County, but she may need to search elsewhere for opportunities. Despite this, she has a bright future. Her plans include becoming a nurse, and Madonna House is helping her achieve her dreams.

She’s been at the program for almost four months. In her short time there, she’s made huge strides. Kayla has a fourteen-month-old son named Jackson, and she credits Madonna House for helping her to regain custody. “They got him back for me,” she said with a smile.

One way Madonna House helps reunite families is that it sends reports to different courts. This way, the program can advocate for residents if they’re keeping up with their progress as moms. Madonna House also hosts parenting classes for the women. “It helps mothers to be mothers again,” Kayla explained.

As we explore other options for new services in Lockport, we’re keeping Kayla and her son Jackson in mind. We hope to develop new housing options to help people just like her. Thankfully, we know that our plans will help save lives, deliver hope, and keep families together in Lockport and other communities.

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