Recovering from Trauma: One Woman’s Journey

Jewelle, a resident of SCO’s Madonna Heights campus, discusses how she overcame her trauma and learned to establish trust and plan for her future.

Madonna Heights Wins Sanctuary Institute Resiliency Award

SCO’s Madonna Heights programs won the Sanctuary Institute’s first ever Resiliency Award. The Resiliency Award recognizes and honors the tremendous work of organizations who have come together to support one another as well as their communities during the historic and challenging year of 2020.

When the pandemic hit New York and much of the state shut down, Madonna Heights programs remained open. Residents were quarantined for months without any physical contact with their families and loved ones.

With a heightened awareness of social responsibility, all staff took on varied roles – regardless of title or position. Programs shared staff, information, supplies, and much needed comradery and encouragement with each other, residents, and families, even when struggling with their own fears and personal losses. Madonna Heights continued to be a community of healing.

Through months of isolation, new ways were created to support family connections. Cell phones, laptops and iPads were procured and used so residents could have daily virtual visits with their loved ones. Virtual events were created to support individual and group family fun and wellness. Food donations and deliveries were provided to families in need. As COVID restrictions eased, outside visiting locations were set up and eventually a COVID-safe indoor visiting area was created to support family visiting for all of the on-campus programs.

Throughout the pandemic, Madonna Heights staff embraced the collective strengths of their programs, clients, and families, adjusted to a new normal, and looked ahead to a future beyond the pandemic.

What Makes Us Unique

Sometimes one of the best ways to reach a young woman is through nonverbal communication. At Madonna Heights, we recognize that. We offer an intensive therapeutic art program and New Heights, an adventure course which emphasizes physical activities and group work. It is important that our young women learn to speak up for themselves, which is why we have developed youth leadership and peer mediation programs, which give our girls a sense of advocacy, power and confidence.

We pair each child with their own advocate counselor to ensure they make the most of their experience. We offer individual and group counseling, wellness coaching, substance abuse programs and college and career planning. Perhaps most importantly, we focus on repairing family ties to help our girls make a smooth transition when they are ready to head back home.

Said one parent: “I know that my daughter has a lot of good to share with the world, she just needed some help getting there…and that started with me and you, together as partners. I feel that with your help, her life may have been saved. I am forever grateful.”

Our holistic approach includes trauma-informed care and treatment, helping these young women face their problems with unflinching honesty so that they can first heal and then move on to create a better life for themselves.

“The help I have received and the relationships I have developed made me able to not only trust but to be trustworthy,” said one young woman.

We help


children and young adults through foster care programs

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