Long before founding Acres of Diamonds in 1995, Pearl Tadema has always had a big heart for homeless women and children. She wanted to help, but wanted to go beyond just providing a roof over someone’s head. She wanted to work with people to them heal and find a better life and future. So she returned to school to earn her Masters degree in counseling, completed the paperwork to become a nonprofit, rented a house in Duvall, and worked with shelters, police, and community services to find mothers needing help. “It had a very grassroots start,” said Kristin Jack, Senior Development Manager at Acres.
Over 20 years later, Acres of Diamonds continues this mission. Serving women who are predominantly victims of domestic violence, substance abuse, and lifelong poverty. These are women with children that want to break the cycle and write a new chapter, a new book for themselves.
Valerie Stewart, Community Engagement Manager, and Jack met with me recently to talk about the work Acres of Diamonds is doing and gave me a tour of the facilities. Stewart said of Acres, “It’s a safe place for real changes.”
Stewart stressed the often life changing programs and working with these wonderful strong women that truly want to give their kids a life that they didn’t have. She said, “It’s a strong program with a housing benefit.”
The uplifting women and children’s program at Acres of Diamonds is built around relationships…God, Self, Others, and Community.
Acres is a faith-based organization but a religious affiliation is not a requirement to be a participant in the program. The main requirement is that the women must be clean and sober and ready to commit to the process for a better life.
Lush greenery and trees with a main house and an apartment building surround the grounds, which is now owned by the nonprofit. Up to 12 families can be housed at this time. The main house accommodates the community room for classes and group meals, rooms for residents, and administration offices. The apartment building provides homes for additional families and houses a kids’ center complete with a nursery and library. All women start the program by living in the main house. “The first month is so important,” Stewart said. “They don’t have to worry ‘how will I feed my child? When do I have to move again?’ They can feel safe,” she added.
The ultimate plan is to construct an addition called the “Family Rescue Home” that will add 20 more apartments among other things. Jack said that they are working on the plan for this and are currently in the “dream phase.”
Women enrolled in the Acres program are required to attend two classes weekly and pitch in to keep things in order. Additionally, they are all working normal jobs, attending school, or both. Stewart said, “These moms want change and are willing to put in the hard work to make a better life for their kids.” The families also get together weekly for a group supper to share food, stories, and hopes.
Jack marveled at the strength and commitment the women at Acres have shown despite the adversity that they have faced. “It is great to walk alongside these women as they go through the program.”
Community goes beyond the boundaries of Acres as well. Stewart said, “People have really embraced our mission. Many people and businesses from Woodinville and Duvall are helping.” They welcome volunteers to help with classes, kids programs, keeping the grounds beautiful. Donations are also welcome. Of particular need are clothes for their onsite thrift store called “The Diamond Dollar Store” for moms to shop at, furniture, food, diapers, and of course, cash donations. Every week a wish list is posted on their Facebook page (acresofdiamondsorg). There is also an annual fall gala event that will be held on September 21st this year at the Hollywood Schoolhouse.
When the women at Acres see the community helping out, it means so much to them. Stewart said, “A lot of these women have suffered and having people come out and invest in their lives is awesome.”
If you are interested in finding out more about Acres of Diamonds, please call 425.788.9999 or visit us online at www.acresofdiamonds.org.