CNM Instructor Debra Maese Builds Positive Futures One Life at a Time

Building a positive future one family at a time is what Debra Maese believes she is doing by teaching parenting skills through a partnership between the CNM Workforce Training Center and Saranam, a program designed to lift people out of homelessness.
July 16, 2015

Once a week the WTC instructor goes to the nonprofit agency, a two-year housing and education program for homeless families in Albuquerque, and instructs participants on how to be better parents.

“Parenting is something we learn, we’re not born with these skills,” she says.

Saranam offers a comprehensive range of services to assist families who have a desire and the motivation to end their homelessness. It provides long-term, intensive case management, increasing levels of education, focus on addressing individual issues and a supportive community. During the first year Saranam gives the families, all homeless, an apartment to live in, a well-stocked pantry and a small stipend. They take parenting and other classes to help them learn to be self-sufficient. Parents must be on the path to furthering their education – whether that means getting a GED or attending CNM to learn a job skill – and eventually to supporting themselves.

The second year the participants can stay in their apartments and pay rent and while furthering their education. They continue to have case management provided by Saranam. Since the organization was founded in 2004, it has housed 59 families made up of 74 adults and 121 children. Fourteen have been two-parent households. Because building community and support networks are an important part of the Saranam program, families are accepted into the program in “classes,” allowing for an immediate group and community to form.

Debra’s curriculum for the parenting class, offered to parents during their first year in the program, is based on “Love and Logic,” an approach to raising children that provides loving support from parents while at the same time expecting the kids to be respectful. Her class extends from August through May. This year she started with eight parents in her class, which dropped to six.

“I work with the parents on a variety of aspects, including how to remain calm when their children act up, be a good role model and how to teach children values and morals,” she says.

One of the more popular activities she does with the families is to help them capture memories in scrapbooks, which gives everyone in the family a sense that they belong together.

“Many of the families don’t have any picture books of their families. And, in fact, for some of the parents it’s the first time they’ve actually lived with their kids,” she says.

Debra has been a WTC instructor for seven years and previously spent 10 years doing adult training at another institution. While she is involved in other instructional programs at CNM, she particularly likes teaching the parenting class at Saranam. “It’s where my heart is. I am so proud of the people who take it seriously. More important is that I know everyone takes away positive experiences,” she says.

Tracy Sharp, Saranam executive director, values Debra’s efforts with the agency. “We really appreciate the time and energy Debra gives to our program. She has been a great help to our families, helping prepare them to be self-sufficient,” she says.