Life Skills grads experience journey

Written by The SAFE Alliance

The graduating class of this fall’s Life Skills Program went on a journey of self-discovery. The group of 13 committed women did the hard work of looking inside themselves – rediscovering who they are and beginning to identify their new hopes, dreams, and goals.

During the program graduation, SAFE Life Skills Coordinator Cema Mastroleo quoted civil rights activist and American award-winning author Maya Angelou:

“Every journey begins with a single step.”

The Life Skills grads did just that – at the beginning of August, they started their journey. And one step at a time, through the 16-week process, they developed the skills needed to help them feel safe, lead independent lives, and continue toward new, loving, healthy relationships.

About the SAFE Life Skills Program

SAFE’s Life Skills Program provides access to important resources and offers survivors of abuse an opportunity to develop skills essential to rebuilding lives after leaving abusive situations. The 16-week program is available to SAFE clients, residents in Supportive Housing on the SafePlace campus, and elements of the program are offered to children and youth staying in Austin Children’s Shelter.

Life Skills workshops help develop:

  • Conflict management skills
  • Self-care techniques
  • Parenting skills
  • Money management
  • Improved Self-esteem
  • Communication skills

When a person enters the Life Skills Program, it is because they have made a conscious decision to turn a new page in their life – to say “no more” to domestic and sexual violence and “yes” to safety, healing, and independence.

Fall’s graduating class

Graduates made a deliberate decision to give themselves time to examine the daily choices they face that affect their safety and the safety of their loved ones.

This semester’s grads introduced a new tradition to the program: the Life Skills tree.

During the last workshop of the semester, classmates left colorful imprints of their hands on a wall, forming the leaves of the tree. Mastroleo said seeing the group of women make the tree reminded her of “watching them bloom during the semester.”

Their positive changes are the result of getting up each day, setting goals, going to classes, receiving counseling, going on job interviews, keeping a savings account. Showing up for life!

One student described the program as “Adulting 101: How to Adult without Oppressing.”

Next semester

The new graduates are making their way in the world, which means the next semester is right around the corner.

The first day of SAFE’s spring Life Skills semester is Jan. 17 and the program wraps up with graduation ceremony in May. Workshops are held 6-8:30 p.m. on Tuesdays at the SafePlace campus.

For more information or to register, contact Cema Mastroleo at 512.356.1557 or

Please leave your name and date of birth. If you have children who will participate in children’s activities during workshops, please state how many children and their ages.