Helping Lesbians live as normally as possible while coping with life threatening illnesses
P.O. Box 541095
Houston, TX 77254
AssistHers is dedicated to creating a community of caregivers who
- Provide a network of support to lesbian women struggling with debilitating or life-threatening illnesses in order for them to live as normally as possible
- Educate lesbian women and others about important health issues, with special emphasis on lesbian-related health concerns
- Eradicate discrimination and break down barriers which lesbians face when accessing health and social service systems
On April 10, 1996, 25 Houston-area lesbian physicians, social workers, police officers, entrepreneurs, and others pooled their resources and experience to found AssistHers, an organization designed to create a community of caregivers that provide assistance to and advocacy for lesbian women who have a debilitating or life challenging disease, illness, or condition, and provide education to the Houston-area lesbian, medical, and social service communities to help eliminate barriers to healthcare. The work of the organization reflects a grassroots effort to realize one of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2010: To eliminate health disparities among different cultural groups.
Since our inception in 1996, more than 800 AssistHers volunteers have been trained to provide in-home care to over 100 women, as well as their partners and other family members. AssistHers is currently serving over 20 clients and we have over 80 active volunteers. New teams are formed as new clients present to AssistHers for services. Our clients suffer from conditions like arthritis, multiple sclerosis, brain and spinal cord injury, fibromyalgia, breast cancer, stroke, and other debilitating illnesses. Over half of our clients have no partner or family support. Many of them have illnesses or disabilities that will require years of support from AssistHers.
Creating a community of caregivers who know how to care for themselves is another major goal of the organization. One of the barriers to lesbians accessing healthcare is misinformation by both lesbians and healthcare providers about lesbian healthcare needs.
Once a month, all volunteers (care team members, board members, committee members), guests, and the public have the opportunity to attend a 30-minute education session presented by a variety of guest speakers. This planned interaction enables AssistHers volunteers and guests to interface with members of the local medical and social service community, and it provides ongoing training for the volunteers. The public is always welcome to attend these sessions.
The topics are diverse, such as homophobia in healthcare, lesbian legal issues, “Understanding Lab Tests for the Lay-person,” “How to Use the System: Managed Care 101,” cancer screening and prevention, HIV/AIDS, lesbian battering, women and addiction, depression, and so forth. Clearly, the topics address not only specific diagnoses, but they also address how one can overcome barriers to accessing healthcare. Both healthcare professionals and volunteers benefit from this dynamic interaction.
Copyright AssistHers, Inc. 2013
Tammy Mermelstein, JD, MSW Manager, United Way, Care for Elders
Most people, as they grow older, have a mental picture of living where they want and doing what they want to do. Sometimes, however, life presents us with barriers that threatens our ability to age in place. When that happens, who is out there to help us, and how we can access that assistance? Through Care for Elders, a Harris County initiative, Tammy will discuss the Access Network, a single point-of-entry to a wide range of free senior services that can help keep that dream a reality.
Jeanne Higgs, LCSW is a Staff Therapist at The Montrose Center and is also part of the Chemical Dependency treatment team and the Spanish speaking member of the Anti-Violence team. She has been interested in mindfulness for the past 13 years and enjoys teaching and practicing mindfulness and stress reduction techniques with a group she facilitates, that is free and open to community members, every Wednesday at 11:00 a.m. on the first floor of The Montrose Center.The Mindfulness, Well-Being and Stress Reduction class ~ We can reduce the amount of distress we experience and live a more authentic and healthy life by tuning in to what appears in our thoughts, emotions, and body. Mindfulness brings awareness to our daily activities.
Josephine Tittsworth, JD, MSW, a Vietnam Era Veteran, retired from IBM after 30 years of service. She is in the PhD program (ABD) at the Graduate College of Social Work of UofH. She received her BSW (2006) at the UofH-CL and her MSW (2007) at the GCSW-UofH. In 2005 she served on the National Association of Social Workers Texas Chapter BOD as the BSW representative. She chairs the NASW-TX LGBT Equity Committee and chaired the NASW National Committee for LGBT Issues Committee. She served on the BOD of NASW as the Region XI Representative. For seven years she served on the BOD for the Society of the Second Self, Inc., (TRIESS) as director of Chapter Networking and Support, she chaired the Houston Transgender Unity Committee for five years; she is the founder and executive director for the Texas Transgender Nondiscrimination Summit (501c3). Trans 101 and Advocacy today!