Renewal House offers stability to women in recovery and their children


March 25, 2022
The new Renewal House facility, set to open in April, will double the program's current capacity to 100 families annually.

U.S. Bank investments helps Nashville agency expand.  

On 14 acres surrounded by a large, wooded area and beautiful trees in north Nashville, Tennessee, sits a nondescript building where each year about 50 women with their children enter a program to get their lives back on track.

It’s called Renewal House, and it has provided addiction treatment to more than 7,000 women since 1996. It is the only Middle Tennessee provider of long-term comprehensive addiction treatment for women in an environment where they can remain with their children.

“I can’t imagine my life without Renewal House,” says Gayle, a mother of three children and former opioid user. “I would’ve been homeless, wouldn’t have any belongings, or couldn’t have been with my children.”

Led by CEO Pamela Sessions, Renewal House has expanded its services to include licensed, intensive outpatient treatment serving both its family residential program, designed for women who have children, and other women in the community. It also has a consultation partnership with the Davidson County offices of the Tennessee Department of Children’s Services, and a telehealth program for incarcerated women at the Davidson County Sheriff’s Office. Over the course of a year, Renewal House touches the lives of more than 500 exceptionally vulnerable women and children in all their programs combined.

To meet the increasing need for its unique services, Sessions is spearheading a project with support from U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC), the community investment and tax credit subsidiary of U.S. Bank, to provide long-term comprehensive residential treatment to even more families.

“Our program is very much needed in the community and effective for the women who take advantage of it,” said Sessions. “And having a stable place to live, while recovering from an addiction, really increases their chances to be able to get a fulltime, quality job so that they can improve their lives as well as their children’s lives.”

Renewal House CEO Pamela Sessions

Currently, the family residential program has a waiting list of 60 families, including pregnant and/or incarcerated women, who may wait three to six months before a residential program apartment becomes available. With the current capacity to house 17 families and an average family stay of six to seven months, the residential program serves approximately 50 families during a year.

With the help of USBCDC’s $2.35 million in New Markets Tax Credit equity, Renewal House is building a new facility on undeveloped property the agency owns. Set to open in April, it will house 34 residential program families at a time, doubling the program’s current capacity to 100 families annually. Additionally, the new facility will provide 45 spaces for treatment services and staff offices.

“We are a proud partner of Renewal House,” says Jennifer Westerbeck, vice president of New Markets and Historic Tax Credit investments at USBCDC. “It’s a unique project that’s keeping families together and hopefully breaking the cycles of addiction and poverty by giving them access to life-changing tools and opportunities to reach their full potential.”

USBCDC’s investment not only helps the women and children served by Renewal House, it supports U.S. Bank Access Commitment, the company’s long-term approach to help build wealth while redefining how the bank serves racially diverse communities and provides more opportunities for diverse employees. USBCDC has made a commitment to expand equitable access to capital for Black-led/owned businesses.

Most of Renewal House’s clients come through referral sources, including courts, jails, family, friends, former clients, hospitals, health centers and other social service providers. Its primary focus is on mothers who are pregnant and injecting substances, are at risk of their children entering foster care, and/or are facing legal or criminal issues. 

Gayle moved to Renewal House 13 months ago after giving birth to twins while in prison. Losing custody of her babies and a 14-year-old son prior to going to prison gave her the impetus to recover and change her life.

“Losing my children was emotionally hard, and I knew that I had to work hard if I wanted to get them back,” said Gayle. “So, when I was released from prison, I came straight to Renewal House to get my life back in order.”

Gayle attends group meetings, behavioral and coping skill classes, job training and financial literacy. She also follows the recommended treatments, and never fails to go to the appointments with her parole officer. 

Her effort has paid off. Gayle got custody of her twins, and her teenage son will move in with her this summer. They will live together in one of Renewal House’s transitional apartments; she will be able to pay the required $450 per month thanks to a full-time job making jewelry for a company that helps women sell their merchandise around the globe through its e-commerce platform.

“I’m a new person, Gayle 2.0,” she says with a smile. “I’ve been working hard at becoming a productive person, while learning how to raise my children right and become a good example for them. Thanks to Renewal House, I’ve been able to succeed.”

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