While gobs of women gathered in the Anatole’s Imperial Ballroom to learn about leadership and opportunities at the D CEO Women’s Leadership Symposium on Friday, June 2, The Family Place CEO Paige Flink was standing on a couch in the Ann Moody Place lobby. She had wanted to attend the Anatole event, but on this day her priority was leading the army of workers and staffers in preparing for the Sunday reception for the new Ann Moody Place, with an expected attendance of 300. At this moment she was personally placing the artwork so it was just right.
But the artwork on two other walls in the reception area were Paige’s pride and joy. They were masterpieces — simple signs with the names of the major donors who had made this remarkable place come into being.
When TFP opened in the 1970s, domestic abuse was still in the closet and remained there for a couple of decades. According to Paige, who first volunteered at TFP and then was named executive director in 1997, that all changed dramatically in the mid-1990s. When asked what the turning point was, Paige explained, “Thanks to OJ Simpson, the world changed.” It was a wake-up call that if “a celebrity, who had made a phone call and tried to get her husband arrested and couldn’t,” how could a regular human being get help? As a result, domestic violence “became a household word,” laws started to change and “then our visibility grew starting in 1996.”
The need for shelter spurred TFP to create its Safe Campus with 110 beds in the early 2000s, but more was needed as the number of clients and their needs grew. It was in the early 2010s that Paige and TFP board undertook a daunting project to build another campus — a $13M, 40,000-square-foot facility in the medical district that would provide shelter, office and programming areas and child-care facilities. In May 2015, TFP acquired the site for their 2.42-acre dream child. Then on Thursday, October 1, 2015, it was announced at the annual Texas Trailblazer Luncheon that the The Moody Foundation had donated $5M for the project’s “The Legacy Campaign” chaired by Lynn McBee.
But as they delved into the effort, they realized more square footage and funding were needed. The size was increased to 50,000 square feet, and the goal was a whopping $16.5M. And then there were construction surprises, like having to drill down 70 feet to hit bedrock. Still, TFP team and board directors not only managed to meet that goal, they raised $16.898M.
The facility is projected to handle 2,000 clients a year. Paige said that while the average age of their clients is 29, they do get seniors — “The oldest person we have ever served was 78 years old.”
But back to the tour of the three-story buildings that now make up the compound of safety and education. On a wall there was a healthy smudge, evidently resulting from the non-stop moving of equipment and furniture. Paige was not a happy camper spying the imperfection. TFP VP of Development Melissa Sherrill understood, saying, “It’s like a new car. You don’t want to see the first imperfection.” But then she assured Paige that it would be gone with the final sweep of the touch-up crew.
As busy as the move-in scene may have sounded, the years of planning, designing, discussing and fundraising were coming together, with the results being bigger and better than even Paige had first imagined. Nothing had been left out. There were various dining, food preparation, counseling, training, meeting, quiet and groups rooms, as well as a computer lab, a one-chair hair salon (“JoAnn’s Room”) and a wing for children’s needs provided by Crystal Charity Ball. Proudly, Paige pointed to a large storeroom with shelved walls for canned goods and toys. Why would canned goods be needed? Paige explained that for clients making the transition out of an abusive home life, they might have to explain their whereabouts to their abuser upon returning home and could simply say they went to the food bank.
Thanks to a relationship with UT Southwestern Medical School, second-year residents will be brought to the Place by a doctor to see the clients at the in-house mini-clinic that includes examination and dental rooms. But, always searching for more, Paige adds, “The other volunteer opportunities here are for medical doctors to come to give me some night-time clinic. I have a pediatrician, but I could use more pediatricians and general medicine and gynecology.”
Throughout the multiple levels were signs re-enforcing the purpose of TFP — “Take a breath. You are safe,” “The best thing to hold onto in life is each other” and “Difficult roads often lead to beautiful destinations.” Even the pillows from the Pillow Bar are embroidered with “Dream BIG.”
The residential area of apartments were painted in a blue that Paige had discovered in Charleston, South Carolina, because it was both soothing and timeless. There are family suites and individual rooms with bathrooms and closets.
In the center of the campus was a two-level courtyard. The upper level was the Make It Count Children’s Playground. The lower was the Paige Flink Healing Garden. When asked if the children’s area could use a misting system to combat the summer heat, Paige didn’t hesitate, “If someone would give me one, I wouldn’t hesitate!”
There were interior designers like Jan Showers, Mecox, Shay Geyer, Wisteria, Christy Drew and Mary Cates, who had provided directions and resources to create a safe and nurturing environment. Utilizing art as therapy for both adults and children, Moody Place showcases local talent. In addition to encouraging artists to contribute, art-loving Joyce Goss curated “Retail is Art” for high school students to provide the collection of art showcasing food in one of the dining rooms. It turned out that all the artists were women. Rebecca Aguilar helped get Latina artists to contribute. A former client had given two sculptures. One was a woman holding an open cage in one hand and a freed bird in the other. On the wall of Paige’s corner officer overlooking the campus were photographer Judy Walgren‘s Pulitzer Prize winning photos of past TFP clients.
Travis Hollman and his company had created walls of lockers for the clients to safe keep documents and paperwork. Paige admitted that the need was the result of client focus groups.
The SPCA had been a fabulous resource on how to run the Barkingham Palace, a kennel that included a washing machine, dryer and even a quiet room for families to spend time with their pets. While that had been underwritten, Paige admitted that the food was still in need of financial support.
Looking out on the grounds from a third-level terrace, Paige limited photography of the exterior of the building or the surrounding area. No photo could be taken that might hint of Moody Place’s location. Security had been a priority in every aspect of its creation because that was the first step for her clients’ recovery from lives of fear and abuse. As Paige said, “Once you’re behind the walls, you’re totally secure.”
Ann Moody Place is breathtaking and unfortunately so needed. That’s why Paige admitted that her future will be filled with fundraising for its operation. Her hope is you will support Moody Place, but never need it.
For more photos of Ann Moody Place, check MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.