Angela House opens doors to new life after prison

March 10, 2020

Angela House, one of 60 ministries supported by the DSF, combines the efforts of staff, volunteers and community supporters to offer compassionate and holistic comprehensive care for women who were recently released from prison. (Photo courtesy of Angela House)

HOUSTON — Angela House offers compassionate and holistic comprehensive care for women who were recently released from prison. Through the combined efforts of staff, volunteers and community supporters, the women that call Angela House home are inspired to take the crucial steps of re-envisioning and rebuilding their lives, opening doors to a new life after prison.

“I can honestly say Angela House has truly changed my whole outlook on life and humanity in general,” said Casey, a current resident of Angela House who was recently released from prison. “Having people who support me in my recovery and in the choices that I am now making gives me the hope that has been missing for so long; I actually believe that I have a future for the first time in almost 30 years. With all the love and support I receive here at Angela House from the staff, as well as my sisters-in-recovery, I believe in myself, in the changes I am making and know that God has a plan for me.”

According to Executive Director Kristin Guiney, who joined the ministry in 2019, Angela House has provided over 462 women in the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston with a residential program offering opportunities to find hope, healing and belongingness during this critical transition.

Angela House is one of 60 ministries supported by the Diocesan Services Fund (DSF).

Programs and services include assistance with accessing medical, dental and mental health services; individual and group therapy; creative arts groups; faith-based support groups; twelve-step recovery meetings; job readiness training; financial management; and exercise and healthy living skills.

Guiney said what truly makes Angela House an exceptional ministry is the fact that all staff members are not only qualified for their respective positions, but are highly dedicated, creative and nurturing. They understand that each person is an individual with unique strengths, talents and interests, and ensure that the residents are welcomed into a loving, supportive community.

They, along with collaboration with many community partners that believe and support Angela House’s mission, the ministry successfully provides the holistic care needed by formerly incarcerated women. In some cases, the ministry has even saved lives.

“Prior to coming to Angela House, I was a victim of human trafficking and was addicted to drugs,” said Emma, another current resident released from prison last year. “Angela House has taught me to love myself, take care of myself, and helped me to mend and make healthy relationships. I don’t have to live scared anymore, and I can hold my head high knowing that chapter of my life has been closed and there is hope at the end of the tunnel.”

Guiney stresses the importance of programs like the ones offered at Angela House, which benefit the entire population. She cites supporting information found in a 2018 study by the Texas Criminal Justice Coalition.

Female incarceration in the Texas Department of Criminal Justice increased 908% from 1980-2016, compared to an increase in the male population of only 396%. Although women represent a small portion of the total prison population, their incarceration creates profound ripple effects in their families and within their communities.

“In Texas, more than 10,000 women in TDCJ are mothers,” said Guiney. “Incarcerating them — even for short periods — removes them from their children and partners, can cause job loss and eviction, risks loss of custody of a child, and makes later access to employment, education, and housing all the more challenging given a criminal record. The entire community benefits when we are able to properly serve and rehabilitate those who come into contact with the criminal justice system.”

Guiney said the faithful greatly contribute to the positive impact Angela House has on the lives they serve in meaningful and concrete ways.

“With the monetary assistance, we are able to provide the holistic comprehensive care for women rebuilding their lives after incarceration need,” said Guiney. “In addition to our staff, knowing there are members of the outside community supporting them and praying for them, also, inspires the women of Angela House to succeed and transform their lives.”