OAKLAND -- KQED reporter Rachel Myrow will be the guest speaker at the Oakland Elizabeth House Annual Benefit Luncheon at the Claremont Country Club on April 25. Myrow is host of the television station's daily "The California Report."

"Oakland Elizabeth House is a transitional house for women who have had problems with substance abuse, homelessness or domestic violence," said executive director Tina Humphrey. "Our mission is to move them into independence."

The program includes job training, academic tutoring and classes on money management and parenting. The women cook for themselves and share dinnertime together four nights a week.

"Just like any household, the kitchen is the women's favorite place to hang out," Humphrey said.

The benefit luncheon will also feature a boutique, live and silent auction (one of the prizes is a trip to Ireland) and a current resident of Oakland Elizabeth House will share her story.

"The house was established in 1991, so this will be our 22nd luncheon," said Humphrey, who said the building used to be a convent. "The proceeds account for 29 percent of our total budget."

Humphrey said the program, which can accommodate up to 10 women and their children -- who live at Elizabeth House for 12 to 18 months -- has a 90 percent success rate.

"We measure that by the women who get permanent housing and by those who come to our annual alumnae barbecue," Humphrey said.


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One of those success stories is Kimberly Martinez. She came to Elizabeth House with her son in 2010, after getting clean and sober through a drug treatment program.

"I was addicted to drugs for 11 years before my son was born," said the 27-year-old Martinez. "CPS (Child Protective Services) took my son away and I didn't get him back for a year."

Martinez completed the drug program and was then referred to Elizabeth House to get the support and learn the skills she needed to live independently.

Today, she has a full-time job at Elizabeth House, working in staff support, she's been sober for more than four years, and lives with her 7-year-old son in her own home.

"I have my own place and a vehicle in my name; I've never had that before," said Martinez, who said her son is also doing well.

"He's a happy boy and I'm a happy mother," Martinez said. "In the drug program, I learned to be clean. At Elizabeth House, I learned how to live my life."

Humphrey said what is unique about Oakland Elizabeth House is that the women get a key to the front door and a key to their room and so have freedom to come and go.

"It's not a lockdown situation like some other facilities," Humphrey said. "Some of our women have jobs or go to school. I want this to feel like a big family, just like any other home on the block."

IF YOU GO
What: Oakland Elizabeth House Annual Benefit Luncheon featuring KQED reporter Rachel Myrow
When: 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Thursday
Where: Claremont Country Club, 5295 Broadway Terrace
Tickets: $75 each, which can be purchased at www.oakehouse.org