A guest's room in My Mariposa Home.
My Mariposa Home resident Carmela decorates her room to create a cozy, at-home atmosphere. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Carmela arrived at My Mariposa Home in March after she ran out of options.

Her husband had taken all of her property – and her spirit – while subjecting her to verbal and emotional abuse during their decade-long marriage.

Carmela is one of eight residents taking refuge at My Mariposa Home, a new residence program for women surviving complex trauma. Her room is cozy and decorated with cards hanging on ribbon, a poster board collage of words cut out from magazines, and colorful scarves draped over hooks. It’s the closest thing she has to a home, and the program’s other residents who cook together, eat together, and help each other as much as they can, are like her family.

“We’re all survivors,” Carmela said. “We’re all in our own way survivors. Our path brought us here, and we’re working hard. Otherwise, we would fall into old patterns, whether it’s a relationship or other patterns.”

The program celebrated its grand opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday morning, where Texas First Lady Cecilia Abbott spoke, alongside U.S. Rep. Will Hurd (R-Helotes) and Councilwoman Ana Sandoval (D7).

A ribbon is cut in honor of the grand opening of My Mariposa Home.
A ribbon is cut in honor of the grand opening of My Mariposa Home. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Abbott praised My Mariposa Home for helping women escape violence.

“No woman should feel trapped in an abusive relationship,” she said. “No woman should feel unsafe in her own home. No woman should feel alone with no one to turn to.”

My Mariposa Home was started by Providence Place, a faith-based nonprofit in Northwest San Antonio that offers a variety of services including adoption, foster care, and care for people with disabilities. “Mariposa,” means butterfly in Spanish, and symbolizes the transformation the nonprofit wants to help women achieve.

The residence program sits on the Providence Place campus, and serves women who need a transitional home to leave abusive situations and overcome trauma from trafficking, sexual assault, and domestic abuse. The program also sends counselors and case managers into the community to help women who might not be ready to live on the Providence Place campus.

Chief Program Officer Angelica Cervantes said through funding from the City of San Antonio and from the Office of the Governor, My Mariposa Home started serving women in the community in January and housing women in February. Staffers give trauma-informed care, and Sandoval said the City is proud to support Providence Place as part of the trauma-informed care consortium.

“Your work has always been grounded in ensuring that women have the chance to experience restoration … and to flourish as anyone else flourishes,” Sandoval said at Friday’s ceremony.

The City of San Antonio gave My Mariposa Home a $101,000 grant, while the governor’s office awarded the program two grants for $236,000 and $363,000, Cervantes said. But it’s not enough to sustain the program longterm. There are two clinicians, two case managers, a job placement specialist, a medical coordinator, a program director, and direct support professionals who staff the home 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help residents with whatever they might need, even if it’s just someone to listen.

“It’s costly,” Cervantes said. “Really when you incorporate all of those levels of services, a bed can range from $250 to $300 a night.”

Staffers are in the process of interviewing another 14 or so potential residents to join the program. The end goal is to help participating women achieve self-sufficiency through job training and job placement. But for the first few months, women are given time to heal, to relax, and to focus on themselves.

Providence Place President and CEO Judith Bell
Providence Place president and CEO Judith Bell Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Providence Place president and CEO Judith Bell said she wanted to help women take ownership of rewriting their own personal stories.

“We don’t know what that story looks like now,” Bell said. “Those past chapters are closed. They are writing chapters today, from day-to-day.”

Though she has only been at My Mariposa Home for a short time, Carmela already feels more like herself. She has started crafting and making art and said she rediscovered her creative spirit.

“I would like to say thank you to everybody here,” she said. “Everybody here has so much heart, and is doing so much to make us feel loved and protected, that it would be a sin not to heal, not to take that step and do our part.”

People interested in donating to Providence Place or to My Mariposa Home can do so through the website.

*Carmela’s name was changed in this story for her protection.

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Jackie Wang

Jackie Wang is the local government reporter at the San Antonio Report.