Rebuilding families

Mickey Taylor

Mickey Taylor

Photo By Tom Angel

It’s hard not to come away from a meeting with Mickey Taylor with a smile. She herself smiles a lot. And she should, after so many years of helping rebuild the lives of so many local families.

Taylor, the director of the Esplanade House, always knew she wanted to get into social work. Before she moved to Chico in 1976, she worked for Catholic Social Services in the San Francisco Bay Area, along with a community college and a low-income housing project.

She’s worked for the Community Action Agency (which operates the Esplanade House) since 1976 and helped organized the Esplanade House back then. It didn’t take off on its own, though, until 1990. She became the director of the program in 1993.

In person, Taylor is warm and self-deprecating. Her office is filled with family pictures (she’s married and his two children, along with seven grandchildren), candles and books. A white board on the wall displays an inspirational quote of the week, supplied by one of her client families—12 of whom live on the agency’s Esplanade property.

The Esplanade House runs a transitional housing program for families in recovery, mostly from drug and alcohol abuse. Those taken into the program, which lasts from seven months to a year, have to be “ready” for it, Taylor notes. They’re required to attend daily meetings with the other clients, who are all single parents, and have their progress away from substance abuse and poor lifestyle choices charted each month.

The classes, which last throughout the day, address everything from nutrition and sober parenting to conflict resolution.

That depth and breadth of the program, Taylor notes, is what makes it so successful. Taylor’s staff recently sent out surveys to 49 Esplanade House graduates to update their progress. So far, she said happily, the results have been encouraging. They’re filled with good news from newly restructured lives. Many lavish praise on Taylor and her staff for their work.

“We love you all,” one woman wrote. “Thank God for you and your staff.”

Another woman wrote that she and her husband are now working full time and are expecting a second baby any day.

Taylor said it’s stuff like that that makes her job so fulfilling.

“It’s extremely rewarding to see the transformations these families make," she said. "It’s inspiring. And it’s great to know that [I] had a part in that process."