Founded in 1999 in Memphis, Tennessee by Melvena C. Leake, Karat Place is a non-profit transitional housing facility. Karat Place caters to women who are being relayed from jail or prison and their children. Leake, who taught English in the Memphis City Schools for 30 years, found her calling in Karat Place when she retired. The facility is named “karat” in honor of the value and beauty of 24-karat gold. Like the gold, she wants to help her clients, many of whom had been through dire circumstances, find beauty and value in their lives.
Accommodations and Amenities
Karat Place is a 16-bed facility, and women and children are accommodated in dorm-like rooms, which include two bunk beds, five drawer dressers, nightstands, lamps, and desks. The furniture is donated from Rhodes College. Rooms are carpeted, courtesy of a local church. Karat Place participates in a welfare-to-work program, and the women are assisted in getting food stamps. Clients and staff go shopping together, and women use their EBT cards to purchase groceries. When not in use, the resident manager safely stores their cards.
During breakfasts and lunches, clients are on their own, and make their own meals. At night, residents are split into three-person teams that take turns cooking, washing dishes and cleaning. This activity teaches women hands-on life skills. Amenities include a house computer with Wi-Fi used for job searching, a computer lab with basic Word used for journaling and creating resumes and cable TV. Staff lives on the premises.
Rules and Regulations
Prior to arrival, clients must be incarcerated or court-ordered, and are usually referred to Karat Place. Leake usually meets clients while they are incarcerated, to ensure that they are a good fit. After their discharge, Leake picks them up and transports them to the facility. Upon arrival, clients receive a shower caddy, filled with personal hygiene items, a thumb drive and socks. The thumb drive is used to store journal entries, which are not allowed to remain on the hard drives of the house computers.
All clients participate in the START program, which features “M-powerment” Sessions designed to teach them life skills and job readiness. Some women are court-ordered to attend an Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP). Other requirements include attending at least two weekly AA meetings, and then one meeting which is more addiction-specific, including NA, CODA or CA. Those opting for Celebrate Recovery are encouraged to attend. Transportation is provided for all recovery-related activities. Other rules include participating in household chores, and journaling. The curfew is 9 pm seven days a week.
Clients participate in groups that help them work on self-esteem and etiquette. Women requiring a high school diploma can participate in GED readiness classes.
Karat Place relies on donations to offset costs. Furniture is always needed.
Leakes loves what she does, and loves helping her clients, many who arrive with a suitcase full of baggage. She provides them with ample support, and many former clients rave about how Karat Place truly taught them to stay clean and sober and find the beauty and value in their lives.
PO Box 9092
Memphis, TN 38190
558 Boyd St,
Memphis, TN 38126
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