Rowan project helps Seabrook House residents

Rowan project helps Seabrook House residents

<!-- ARTICLE BODYTEXT --><!--ARTICLE TEXT--> As a certified psychologist and behavioral analyst, MaryLouise Kerwin has always been interested in mothers undergoing drug treatment.

That interest became the basis of a new Rowan University initiative.

The University Foundation received a three-year, $295,000 grant this summer through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's state Health Initiatives program. The money will go toward what Kerwin calls a "therapeutic workplace" dubbed BOAST, or Behavioral Office-based Achievement and Success Training.

The program will help low-income women in residential drug treatment at Seabrook House in Upper Deerfield acquire work and life management skills as they prepare to re-enter communities, Kerwin said.

Sue Gordon, research director at Seabrook House, said the women involved range in age from 18 to mid-40s. The program will teach them how to talk and dress appropriately for work, and how to act in everyday scenarios -- including what to do if a child is too sick for school.

And while the program is designed to help the women, it also serves as an unofficial, independent study for undergraduate psychology majors at Rowan.

Christina Breen found the opportunity after meeting Kerwin, a professor of hers during the spring semester.

"I thought the program would be an excellent and rare opportunity to help the women battling addiction, as well as develop a better understanding of causes, treatments, and ways to improve their lives for the future," Breen said.

Students will help implement program goals with the low-income women, Kerwin said, to get hands-on experience in their field of study. There will be four students each semester involved in the program.

Breen, Caroline Gleeson and Jacqueline Wolfe already are enrolled to participate when the program starts in January.

"My passion for women's issues, children, and helping others will all come together with this program," Gleeson said.

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Date Published: Thursday, September 27, 2007 - 06:43