“I discovered I can be strong, I can be successful, and I can be the woman I want to be if I’m willing to do the work.”

Click here to read more!

“I had no idea the things I would learn and how it would change my life.”

Click here to read more!

“I am determined to be a better mother and woman and to have a better life. ”

Click here to read more!


A Time to Celebrate!

Imagine you are in your early 30’s. You’ve got three kids, and you rent a room in someone else’s apartment for all four of you. You don’t have a job. You didn’t finish high school. You’re pretty much on your own in every way and you feel so trapped and so alone and so overwhelmed. You’ve recently been talking to a friend who is involved in a program that is making her very happy. You’ve seen the changes for yourself.  She seems calmer, more on top of things, enjoying her kids, happy…what’s up? She tells you about this place where she has found a home away from home and for the first time in her life is feeling like maybe there’s some hope for a brighter future. She urges you to check it out, but you’re pretty sure it wouldn’t work for you. Why start something else you won’t finish?

She keeps at you and you finally give in and go to Mother’s Club with her. You have no idea how much your life is going to change as you simply walk through the door. Almost immediately you are greeted and introduced to others. There’s chatter and coffee and someone else is watching the kids…you could get used to this. As you sit down, you look around the room and see several other mothers – all of them smiling and chatting. You stay quiet. And then the discussion for the day starts…they’re talking about helping your children with their self-esteem. Interesting questions and conversation and then the facilitator says, “But the reality is, ladies, that if you don’t value yourself, if you don’t take care of yourself, it will be difficult to teach your children how to do it.” It grows quiet around the table and everyone is looking at their hands in their laps. Finally someone breaks the silence with a stifled sob and the flood gates open. You don’t say much, but you are fascinated by how open and trusting these women are with each other. By the end of the session, several are talking about a new Strong Families Institute cohort that is starting up with some spaces available. Your friend nudges you, “You ought to talk to them. It would be so good for you.” She introduces you to the woman taking appointments and before you know it, you’re set to talk to someone about it tomorrow afternoon. Now what are you going to do?

Fast forward several months. You are sitting in the final quarter of the Strong Families Institute. My Safe Harbor has now become your home away from home and for the first time in your life, you’re feeling like there is hope for a brighter future for yourself and for your children. The thought of starting the program eight months ago scared you to death. You had never finished anything and what if you didn’t finish this? Another failure.

But here you are! Graduation is just around the corner. You’ve already taken the beautiful invitations to your family and friends and you’re wondering what you will do without the weekly oasis of this group. At this session, someone is telling you about the monthly Alumni Potlucks and the many ways you can stay involved. WOW! You realize you can stay and keep growing!

Graduation is here! You did finish. You paid your way through it. You made changes in your life. Those changes have changed your family. You have moved from “I never finish anything,” to “I finished this!!” Your kids are watching. Your friends are cheering. A whole host of people whom you have never met is there cheering, too, because they’ve been praying for you and paying to help you succeed. You know you are stronger. You know you are wiser. You know you have the tools to problem solve and to dream big dreams for yourself and for your children. You look in the mirror and wonder, “Who is this woman?” It’s YOU! The NEW you! The REAL you! The YOU that is going to walk across that platform all dressed up with all eyes on you as you get your diploma and join the ranks of SFI Alumni. And Heaven is watching as your family and friends and so many others say, “CONGRATULATIONS!  You did it!  Well done!  We can’t wait to see where you go from here!!”

This was the experience for 15 women who proudly walked across the stage earlier this month. If you have never experienced a graduation, you need to.  Our next graduation is August 25th at 3:00 pm at Anaheim First Christian Church.  Be a part of blessing the women who have worked so hard to change their lives and the lives of their families.

–Becky Ahlberg, MSH Executive Director


When God gives you a lifeboat…

An Alumna’s Story

by American Rodriguez, SFI graduate, Delta 16

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help.

Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, “Jump in, I can save you.”

The stranded fellow shouted back, “No, it’s OK, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me.”

So the rowboat went on.

Then a motorboat came by. “The fellow in the motorboat shouted, “Jump in, I can save you.”

To this the stranded man said, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the motorboat went on.

Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, “Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety.”

To this the stranded man again replied, “No thanks, I’m praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith.”

So the helicopter reluctantly flew away.

Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, “I had faith in you but you didn’t save me, you let me drown. I don’t understand why!”

To this God replied, “I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?”

I had an experience I consider as one of those lifeboats God has given me at the monthly Alumni reunion. I was concerned about my oldest son’s recent autism diagnosis and didn’t feel like I wanted to go to the dinner. I decided to go with hope that I would find some answers to my many questions. I started talking to some of my classmates about my child’s diagnosis and talked out loud about the situation. Rosaura (Alumni Coordinator) asked if she could sit with us and asked what we were talking about. I explained that my oldest son Andrew had been diagnosed with autism and that my head is swirling with questions and concerns. She looked to her left, pointed to someone I had never seen before, and said, “Talk to Fele.” Fele had attended one of the very first SFI classes.

We began talking and I wondered why I had never seen her in any of the other reunions. Fele said that she had moved to a city far from Anaheim. Our conversation went on and she mentioned she had tons of personal experience dealing with Autism spectrum and the IEP process with the school. Fele had fought over 18 years with the school district over the best education plan the school could offer for both of her children. She gave me a few tips and told me to not give up and always ask for help. The night was ending so we exchanged phone numbers and I felt much better about my son’s future in education and the lifeboat I was sent that will see help us through the journey.