BY STEVEN MAYER Californian staff writer email@example.com
A high-powered career in advertising and marketing opened the door to expensive homes, late-model cars and what turned out to be a thin veneer of success for Catherine Skow.
Then a collision of events -- the death of her mother and the near-death of her son -- sent Skow on an alcoholic bender she believes would have led to her own death had it not been for the Mission at Kern County, formerly known as the Bakersfield Rescue Mission.
Today, The Mission is adding a new facet to its services -- a transitional housing program for women -- and Skow, 61, will be among the first to benefit.
"It's beautiful," Skow said of the newly renovated three-bedroom, two-bathroom century-old home located on the grounds of the facility in east Bakersfield.
"It's an opportunity to have a home again, to take care of that home, to cook in my home," she said.
The house will accommodate up to eight women at a time, said Carlos Baldovinos, The Mission's executive director.
For women like Skow who have hit bottom before finding it in themselves to dedicate the full year required for The Mission's Christian Life Discipleship Program, it's a chance to transition back into a lifestyle that involves job-seeking, budgeting, paying rent and shouldering basic household responsibilities.
It will give them a chance to slowly return to normal, everyday life, Baldovinos said, while still being monitored by The Mission. The old home has been renovated with funds donated by the community, in particular, a local church whose members prefer to remain anonymous.
Formed in the rubble of the great earthquakes that shook Bakersfield in the summer of 1952, The Mission celebrated its 60th anniversary last year.
The transitional housing program is the first of its kind for the Christian-based nonprofit that for years focused its services primarily on single men.
Today, the discipleship program houses about 20 women.
For Skow, the transitional housing program feels like the next logical step along the path she's dedicated herself to since arriving at The Mission in January 2012.
She's already been offered a good job in advertising, a profession she knows well, Skow said. But her driving record, which includes drunken driving violations, forced the employer to rescind the offer.
And so she waits, walking her new path one step at a time, and focusing her energy on helping other women who are lost in an abyss she once occupied.
"God would do for me what I could not do for myself," she said.
But the steps she is capable of taking on her own are up to her, she added.
An open house at the new transitional home will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at 816 E. 21st St. The public is invited.