Newspaper Archive of
Arkansas Catholic
Litlte Rock, Arkansas
July 22, 1990     Arkansas Catholic
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July 22, 1990

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PAGE 10 ARKANSAS CATHOLIC JULY 22, pulling By Deborah Hilliard Mary Ann Miller of New Orleans is an intense woman who says clearly what's on her mind and looks as if she's prepared to answer hours of questions. And in this interview, conducted during her trip to Arkansas to address the state CYO convention in June, the Director of Crisis Services for New Orleans Covenant House wants to address the question first. "What was important was Bruce's vision," she says of Rev. Bruce Ritter, the founder of Covenant House who resigned in February following allega- tions of sexual misconduct and misap- propriation of funds last December. "He's admitted he made some mis- takes, but he has denied all allegations," Miller says, adding that Covenant House, with national headquarters in New York, is currently undergoing an external financial audit. As for the New Orleans Covenant children; and * 80 percent are clinically depressed. In 1989, those services ran up a tab of $3.8 million for the New Orleans program, now in its third year. The New Orleans CH takes in persons from Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas and Alabama. "We're having to pick up a 38 per- cent cost," Miller says, referring to the percentage of local operating cost usually paid by the national office. She says no one is sure what the national office will be able to fund in the near search program." The Independent Living program, she says, is called Rites of Passage, and includes 18 months of living and work- ing in a modified independent man- ner. Participants, who live in CH-oper- ated housing, put 80 percent of their salaries in the bank and pay 20 percent in rent. Rites of Passage is for those who are ready to establish their own space and to claim responsibility. For some Cove- nant House clients, !ndependent living can look like a nearly impossible goal. For that reason, Miller says, those who leave and come back are not consid- ered failures, but successes. It means they're willing to try again. A good example of how the program can work on even the toughest case is reflected in 19-year-old Steven, Miller says. "He came to us eight months ago, a real street kid from Alabama, she re- future, but that the New Orleans pro- ..... : calls. "He stayed a few days then left. gram can probably anticipate percent downturn. "Our kids don't care abou said, referring to Covenant dents' reactions to the Ritter : The point, she says, have immediate nel met. In 1990, House will take Came back and left again. Dressed as a Krishna. He knew the door was for him.- He came back and forth. but this time he's etter. He's following the The other day, he a suit. He was going ob. I said, 'Steven, ;tructure is what but it'S What they resist the people. " .... : ~ Ken Teens who run away from usually don't run far, according Covenant House statistics. "Nineline" - 1-800-999-9999 - teens to call Covenant House House: "Our program is solid and The ..... .::- . :i(! iiiii !i!iiiiii! ,:iiii?:i.:(iiiii:ii!iiii!ili ::. of charge for help. growing," she says, admitting that by taking .with::s ctm:e::iiiiiil; ducation is "contributions have suffered." needs asked, part of th'6 Cevenant Hbuge program uS ....... . ..... ..... ::i.::::::::.-:- .; .: :...::, ..~:-.: . Covenant House ministers to teens tree y defenswe, she .... For instance, m additaon:iTo:Life Skills "McC, eady," from page 1 whose ages average from 18- 20. Ac-sayS :aWl be there for themandi l Developm n tli ::CH 0ffe :daily that although Covenant House cording to CH s literature about these ...... :: :" : ................. as a san, ..:: GED classes;as well as Addxctlons some donor support and been young adults: :i: : Beyon:: ,, g more. ,invIved'. Management,. Mothei': & Child and:::, to mak, e cutbacks, she found the 90 percent have been physically or .... The CH system ofservtce is a three- other sesssons. ::* :::: ..... gram alive and well in its essenti sexually abused; tiered approach: to helping::young .... "And we::teach them fiow::to handie"I'm very impressed with the qt 33 percent have been raped; people in need): ger "::Miiler says. 'Tge teach them n& of the program and the commiU 34 percent have made serious at-TheCrisis: Cente'r imme-to scream and:shoutaresporise,"whtfi j of the staff, she said. "I,hope to tempts at suicide; diate needs; and the average stay is 20 for instance, they are turned down ftr finue the good work that s been days. .... jobs;:;:: i::: here. 60 percent have children of their : The gh of:e ge rogram aver- Covenant House also:: re Tor own; .... p : McGeady, 62, said the Covel 70 percent are substance abusers; oases one .............. year; and helps V0un " people children of the mothers who come: House board was still engaged in v 30 percent are young women withlearn independentlivingskillStoestab-:: thepro m for help.:: : ing out a contract with her order, lish their own:.lives. :i: ':...:. have a :woman Who :doesl an that she was open to a five-year c N0n:Residential :Se i:ces : may: help essment of the ehild;:@hiehqndUdes mitment. persons for an average six months with a physical," Miller explains. "We do a .. She will not receive a salary dire counseling, support groups, mentors, lot of one-on-one teaching with theshe said, but the board will coral health care or whatever is needed, mothers. And, we have a formal recrea- sate her order, and she will confin tel tion program for the children. We take live at her present residence with t Beyond shelter the kids out to have fun. We have amembers of her community. When a young adult enters the crisis volunteer who .plays games with theRitter lived in a private apartme center, he or she is assigned a coun- children, and we go on mo er-child Covenant House, and received a s selor, who will use a case management trips to the park or the zoo. of $98,000, $60,000 of which he approach to goals and methods. Covenant House offers a long list of been putting into the trust fund. "Most of the kids are facing independ- other services - pro bono legal work, free- McGeady lives with her comml ew ans saw: ent living, andneed independent liv- of-charge psychotherapy and health at a Vincentian-run parish with a 68,257 diaper changes ing skills, Miller says. "We have a ten- care, to name a few - provided by local dominantly Hispanic membership * 1,703 gallons of for- session Life Skills program, which looks volunteers. at goals and values, and gets down to budgets, housing, real basic stuff. For some, especially mothers, with babies, we shepherd them through government human services program they qualify for. And we have a ten-session job "We have a wonderful group of vol- U ~ " nteers, Mdler says, adding that despite the Ritter scandal, financial supporters have also remained loyal, "including supporters in Arkansas." For more information, contact: Covenant House 611 N. Rampart St., New Orleans, LA, 70112, (504) 584-1111j mula consumed * 341,285 baby wipes used * 1,685 ounces of baby lotion applied * 1,050 ounces of baby powder sprinkled * 3,150 ounces of sham- poo lathered predominantly black Brooklyn nity. She was wearing a blue ribbon bolizing a racial harmony promoted by New York Mayor Dinkins in the wake of She holds a Bachelor's degree sociology from Emmanuel College Boston, and has done graduate in clinical psychology at University in New York. !