Describing is something we are taught when we are very young. Once we learn our colors, the idea of basic description falls by the wayside. From that point on, we are taught to evaluate and analyze.

A focus of our client therapy this month has been to re-learn how to describe – to take a situation and describe one’s experience without judging that experience.

This can be helpful for anyone. Describing a situation and one’s experience is especially helpful for our clients at VeraMax House who are faced with difficult experiences every day. It can be a lot easier to analyze a situation after it has passed than to stop and ask oneself what you actually felt.

In working with clients at VeraMax House, I challenge them to just picture the scene and the physical sensations they experience. I ask for specific thoughts and sensations, and not the why. Removing the why, the analysis, can be freeing and can help our clients be more in touch with their feelings and emotions.

Working on therapy with clients is an important aspect of what we do. Empowering them to know themselves better helps provide that stable base they need to succeed.

Hailey Pobanz, M.S.W.
Clinical Case Manager


As the saying goes, “April Showers Bring May Flowers.” Similar to the change much of the northern hemisphere sees this time of year, VeraMax house has seen its fair share of change and development during the transition from April to May. In house, we are adapting to a new schedule. At the end of April, one of our Clinical Case Managers, Jennifer Maghsoudi, M.Psych., has moved on to a fulltime position in San Francisco. We wish her well!

As of May 18, I will be working an additional day to help our present VeraMax House clients. Jennifer has been working with me as their future Clinical Case Manager to provide a smooth transition for all our clients during this time. Starting May 23rd VeraMax House will be open Monday, Wednesday, Friday during normal business hours.

In addition to this in-house change, four more clients were housed just as we transitioned into May. Many of our newly placed clients have been housed at Armstrong Place Senior Housing, which is a new facility. When I started at VeraMax House, Armstrong Place was just beginning to accept applications. That is almost 8 months ago now! It just shows how much time it takes for housing applications to go through after the initial application is submitted. I commend all my clients who stuck it out and are now happily moving into not just a low income apartment, but a place they can call home.

Hailey Pobanz, M.S.W.
Clinical Case Manager, VeraMax House

On April 6, 2011, VeraMax House staff were invited to participate in the Women’s Program Planning Committee at the Veterans Administration (VA) clinic in San Francisco. The unique needs of women veterans have become more apparent throughout the military system. The VA has started the Women’s Program in hopes of providing services specific to the needs of women veterans. VA staff has been getting reports from female veterans that they do not feel safe or comfortable using many of VA services, because of the male majority within the Veterans Administration.

The Women’s Program Planning Committee is not only working to make the VA clinic a safe and welcoming place for the women, but they are also interested in working with VeraMax House and others to provide low-income housing exclusively for women. This collaboration could bring many resources to deliver a successful project. VMH looks forward to continuing our working relationship with the VA. It is important  whenever we honor our veterans and the VA program, to remember the women who served.

The local VA website http://www.san francisco.va.gov recently published this article:
http://www.va.gov/health/NewsFeatures/20110405a.asp, which tells the story of a female veteran who lost her struggle upon re-entering  civilian life and how the VA helped her to not only find safe housing, but find her inner strengths again. VMH hopes that our future working relationship with the VA will provide many more of these good stories.

April, 2011
Hailey Pobanz, MSW
Clinical Case Manager

Spring has sprung and just like April flowers, housing is beginning to bloom! Three of my clients have housing prospects, which were nowhere to be found in the dead housing landscape of Winter. Another positive is that our outreach efforts with other like-minded programs have spread by word of mouth about the greatly needed, wonderful, and free case management and counseling services that VeraMax House provides.

VeraMax House has experienced an influx of new clients whom we are proud to serve. In March, we’ve provided services to 5 new clients!

We are also extremely excited about supporting our collaborative partner Mary Elizabeth Inn at a joint fundraising event. On April 28, 2011 join us to support low-income housing and support services for women in San Francisco (see invitation below).

All in all, we are starting to see our work come to fruition and looking forward to the opportunity to plant more seeds for older homeless women across the San Francisco Bay Area.

Jennifer Maghsoudi, M.Psych.
Clinical Case Manager


Outreach is a crucial aspect of VeraMax House (VMH). It allows us to have a presence in the community and connect with potential clients.

As part of our outreach efforts VMH staff has begun collaborating with the San Francisco Homeless Outreach Team (HOT). Established in 2004 the Homeless Outreach Team (HOT) consists of caseworkers who conduct outreach to those living on the streets. The team offers benefits such as medical and mental health services, substance abuse treatment and transitional housing opportunities.

Once a month, VMH Case Managers will go on outreach with the HOT team. On my first go round with HOT, I learned so much and realized the crucial importance of our collaboration with them. Instead of clients coming to them, the HOT team uses van transportation to locate their clients and other homeless individuals directly on the streets.

With limited staff at VMH it’s important to have a team to conduct outreach for safety reasons. The experience and knowledge of the case workers with the HOT team have benefited VMH greatly and I look forward to learning more from our collaboration.

Hailey Pobanz, MSW

Hope in 2011

This year is starting out hopeful!

After several months of seemingly insurmountable obstacles to finding housing, one of my clients has achieved housing in a quiet, safe place. She is now free from feeling like a prisoner (in shelters you have to check in, wait around for meals, clean up, be vigilant to make sure others are not stealing your belongings, and go to bed all within a monitored time constraint).

This kind of structured constraint on time can severely impact people’s psychological wellbeing, especially those that have till recently led independent lives, like many of our clients. It is exciting to witness liberation from the cycle of homelessness because I know how easily one can become homeless and how difficult it is to then find long term housing. That is the good news!

Unfortunately, it is taking too long for many of my clients to find housing and this affects their health, their motivation, and their ability to find jobs or other assistance. They must constantly be focused on the day to day and at the same time on applying and contacting programs (a more than full-time job for people who are at retirement age).

I’m hoping soon that I can report more of my clients have found housing, but for now one is great! I appreciate it, and I know she does too.

Jennifer Maghsoudi, M.A.
Clinical Case Manager

No Place Like Home Film

In January, 2011 VeraMax House worked briefly with Julie Gordon while she filmed in San Francisco for a documentary on homelessness.

“No Place Like Home” draws attention to the growing problem of homelessness in America and the unique problems faced by women in this situation.

Julie Gordon was particularly interested in working with VMH because it was the only organization she could find in the country that served the particular niche and fills the gap that older women tend to fall through. VMH support was instrumental in making the San Francisco footage for the documentary possible.

In addition to working on the film Ms. Gordon was kind enough to offer her filming skills and assist VMH in working on their own promotional video, including a client testimony. I had been working on writing a testimony with my client Margaret during our last couple of sessions. She felt adamantly about her success. She had a strong desire to tell her story and share her experience at VMH. When I mentioned she could have the opportunity to tell her story on camera, Margaret was nervous, but also very excited. You could see her eyes light up.

The women we serve at VeraMax House have found themselves at their lowest point. They have few people to talk to and few opportunities to feel strong. I think for Margaret helping with the film and giving her testimony gave her that opportunity.

Daily we work with our clients to find their inner strength. We empower them by whatever means to achieve their individual goals.

Seeing the result of such work is incredibly rewarding, and beneficial to VMH and our community.
Special thank you to Julie Gordon for helping VMH and our client achieve this!

Hailey Pobanz, MSW
Clinical Case Manager

P.S. For film updates, check the filmmakers’s website  http://www.gordonandhart.com.