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Rosie’s Place
Offering Women Shelter and Hope
by Andrea Cleghorn

From Chapter 4: Open House (continued)

“Her life was so painful,” observes Molly. “She lit up when she talked about her son, but she felt tremendously guilty that she was robbing him of his mother. Frannie said, ‘Am I going to see him graduate, am I? Tell me I am.’ And I told her no, I don’t think you are. She was so intense I was just reeling with it.”
At one point, Frannie relapsed and disappeared for a short time from the Rosie’s community. “I got the word out on the street that I was looking for her,” says Molly. “I thought if she had enough trust to call back, I would know we were doing something right. When I talked to her, she was ashamed that she had let me down.” Frannie returned.
From that point on, whenever Frannie got sick she would call Molly from the hospital and ask her to bring her what she needed. Molly always went, but she also sent each new staff member to visit so that Frannie could make a connection with someone other than Molly.

As time went on, Frannie became sicker and sicker. At one point, after another stay in the hospital, she came home weighing about eighty pounds, barely able to walk. “She went out and got high one last time,” Molly remembers. “It amazed me, but that’s how terrified she was.”
Frannie’s relapses were becoming disruptive to the whole house. “But the women in the house feel that everyone deserves to keep on getting chances because they realize this could be any of them,” Molly says. “Somehow they found what it took to get clean, and Frannie hadn’t been able to tap that yet. She was starting to open up. They wanted to give her that chance.”
Finally, Frannie made a deal with Molly that she would go into a drug treatment program. A few months later, Frannie stabilized and celebrated her thirty-seventh birthday in the house. All she wanted was a birthday party in her own house, where her own family could come, so that’s what the women of the house gave her. She had never had family in her own home before. Her mother came, along with her two grandmothers, her aunts, her son, and the staff members of the house.
“What women’s biological families don’t understand is that we [in the house] become a kind of family—we’re there day to day. Oftentimes we can be unconditional, because we’re in a place where we can be,” Molly points out. Frannie’s birthday party gave her a chance to reconnect with her family, and the house provided a safe place for them to come and visit her.
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