Last week’s spring-like weather has me thinking about the word “contrast”. Overnight, the weather has changed from raw and bone-chilling cold to soft and moderate. Buttercups will be appearing like magic just any day now. What a contrast!
But, the dramatic changes in the weather can barely compare to the stunning metamorphosis we witness in the lives of our clients. As the power of faith, hope and love awakens something that has for too long lain dormant, dreams can come alive that once seemed impossible. Never is this dream more beautiful than when it has to do with reuniting a family.
Family Relationships in Chaos
Though each of our clients is unique, a common thread is the fact that family relationships are in chaos. Substance abuse takes a devastating toll on the emotions; women who have been caught up in the web of addiction often turn away from what they love most dearly—their children.
Later, when we meet in the cold harsh reality of jail, the women are dealing with emotions that have returned. The shame, guilt and self-reproach are almost unbearable. We have found repeatedly that the possibility of regaining custody and reuniting the family is the most effective motivator for a woman to do the hard work of recovery and re-entry.
One current client, Sharon* is dealing with a multitude of complicated legal and emotional matters right now. In order to keep her children from going into foster care when she was arrested, she placed them in the care of a relative. Now that both children have been diagnosed with autism, the caregiver receives a sizeable check from the government each month and suddenly she is no longer willing to give the children back to the mother without a fight. Even the father, who had disappeared long ago, has re-surfaced and is filing a petition to regain custody. Sharon, who has worked diligently and patiently to make a home for the children is facing one of the most difficult battles of her life. Working two jobs, steadily paying rent, and staying clean and sober have made her the best option for her little ones who desperately want to come home to be with the mom they love.
Though Sharon has very little education, she has immersed herself in learning all she can about parenting children with autism. Over Christmas break, she even volunteered hours at a local agency that deals with special needs children. What a contrast! Her mentor stands shoulder to shoulder with her in this hard-fought battle, prays for her success and the stamina to keep going when giving up would be easier.
Mentors Make a Difference
As a tribute to the relationship of a mentor and client, early on, Sharon was set for a court appointment; when I picked her up for court, she had done her best to dress well, but the outfit she chose was less than appropriate for the courtroom. She just didn’t have a lot of options in her closet and did the best she could. Her mentor met us in the lobby of the court and the look on her face showed her angst. The mentor made a quick trip to her car and pulled out a shirt she was taking to the cleaners. Re-entering the building, the two of them quickly disappeared down the hallway toward the restroom, and when they returned the client was wearing the mentor’s beautiful sweater ensemble, and the mentor was wearing her husband’s large, wrinkled shirt from out of the laundry bag. As they sat side by side in the waiting room, I had a visual of what it means to literally give the shirt off your own back for another.
Share Our Joys!
It is one of our most satisfying joys to celebrate the families that have come back together over the past few years. Unless a person has been involved, it is hard to imagine the hours and intensity of the work that must be done to jump the hoops put in place by the justice system and agencies that work with them in these cases. But, it is all so worth it to see the serenity in the faces of the children, and a mother’s tears of joy replacing the shame, guilt and defeat. WHAT A CONTRAST!!! Thank you for joining us in this effort!
Project Braveheart is entering the 3rd week of our new class session at the Rutherford County Correctional Work Center. We have 22 men on our roster and have begun our 12-week journey towards change. Our class graduation is scheduled for April 25th.
We discuss topics with students such as values, attitudes, behaviors, consequences, needs, relationships, anger, seeking happiness, being a leader and dealing with drugs/alcohol. We teach and address all of these topics from a Christian perspective.
Now weekly a small group gathers to focus on the journey for the men post release. This gathering serves as a great supplement to our class and mentor connections. One critical component of our success with the men is to connect each student in the class with a positive influencer on the outside, we call them mentors. Mentors commit to pray regularly and write weekly to their mentee. The need for new men to serve as mentors is continues.
As we say in class, “If we keep doing what we’ve been doing, we’ll keep getting what we’ve been getting. If we want to change what we’ve been getting in life we must change what we are doing… doing otherwise is insanity.” We assist men like Jamar to implement change in there thinking and in their life.
“The class is an overall helpful program. It’s definitely answered questions for me in which I’ve never brought to anyone’s attention. Obtaining help getting through daily situational problems is what I joined for. I also wanted to better myself for my family and also for me. Project Braveheart has done both for me and I can tell that I have changed. I’ve decided to simply do what’s right and trust in God. This class has made that decision easier for me to make.”
– Jamar (Project Braveheart Graduate – January 24, 2014)
If you would like more information contact us at anytime,