CLM MONTHLY COLUMN
Various Center for Lay Ministries Staff and Volunteers write our monthly column (entitled MISSION POSSIBLE), in the News and Tribune, Jeffersonville, Indiana. We are grateful to the News and Tribune (our local Southern Indiana newspaper) for allowing us the space for this monthly column.
If you have an idea for one of our columns, feel free to contact us! We love hearing from you.
|Posted on February 7, 2018 at 6:10 PM|
|Posted on January 8, 2018 at 1:05 PM|
|Posted on August 2, 2017 at 3:55 PM|
|Posted on February 25, 2016 at 10:30 PM|
MISSION POSSIBLE: Bliss House Lost and Found: Dignity and Respect
By Carol Dawson, Center for Lay Ministries/Bliss House Volunteer Communications Director
Her daughter lost everything – her home – her children – her relationships – her dignity – her self-respect – her ability to love - and she nearly lost her life…to drugs and alcohol. Listening to this mother speak of her daughter’s journey into true despair engulfed me in sadness.
We were at the 12th annual Valentine Bliss to raise funds to support the Bliss House (BH) mission of guiding and transitioning women from addictions into recovery. This was a celebration of the women who have successfully completed the program and a celebration of hope for the women who are currently in the BH program, but the grim realities this mother spoke of were heartrending and difficult to hear.
Not all BH residents are successful, but those who take the program seriously, come through with a renewed spirit and will to live. During the many months the residents are in the BH, the residents learn everything from how to change a car tire to how to maintain their finances properly. They learn about their addictions – why they are addicted and what they can do to kick drugs/alcohol in the butt - forever. They learn the 12 step process of recovery and how to apply them to their daily lives. They learn about their own spirituality and how to control their problems with means other than controlled substances or alcohol.
At the conclusion of the mother’s talk, she spoke of her daughter’s transition out of the darkness – off drugs and alcohol and back into life with the help and guidance of the BH program. She then introduced her daughter, Brittany, and their embrace immediately transported me back to why we were at Valentine Bliss and why this was indeed a celebration.
Brittany, a beautiful and petite young woman, was clearly nervous speaking in front of 200 people about her life’s journey. She introduced herself, thanked her mother, and then hesitated for a moment. Brittany looked out into the crowd and seemed a bit in awe of her surroundings. She looked radiant as she smiled, gained her composure and said, “I never thought I would be standing before a group like this, talking about my life before sobriety.” Brittany didn’t candy-coat her life addicted to drugs and alcohol; she described the hopelessness in detail.
This graceful young woman articulated how drugs and alcohol took everything away from her; robbing her of all she cared about in life. She explained, “I had nothing to live for since I had lost it all, even my children. I was in jail and I had no dignity or respect for myself or for others. Then Julie Schwerer, the Bliss House Director, showed up at the jail. She told me about the Bliss House program and all I could think of at that time was to do whatever I needed to do in order to get out of jail…so I lied to Julie. I told her what I thought she needed to hear and within 30 days I was out of jail and in the house, with no intent to truly go through the program.”
Brittany hesitated - the details of that time in her life were obviously not easy to disclose publicly. Brittany disclosed, “While I initially thought all of the residents were being fake with their cheerfulness, I soon realized I no longer understood or even recognized real happiness.”
Brittany shifted from high heeled foot to foot, and had to stop to regain her composure a few times before she spoke again, but in the audience there was no throat clearing or chair shifting during those brief moments; actually you could have heard a pin drop. Brittany concluded, “I began working the AA steps and following the program requirements. The structure and responsibilities were what I needed to find my happiness. Everything else followed and today I am drug and alcohol free and I have my children, my family, and my life back.”
The entire room cheered and gave a standing ovation, a distinct indication to Brittany that respect is something anyone can earn back into their lives. Brittany discovered the bliss in her life and with that she found the dignity and respect she lost to addiction.
If this story has touched your heart, please consider supporting this unique and worthwhile organization. You can go to the website: www.center4layministries.com/bliss-programs, or go by the Center for Lay Ministries to ask how you can help programs like the Bliss House to continue. Call 812-282-0063 (Center) or 812-280-7533 (Bliss House).
|Posted on February 8, 2016 at 1:20 PM|
MISSION POSSIBLE / EXTRA MILER: Success Stories at Bliss House
September 12, 2015
By: Carol Dawson, A Bliss House Committee Member and CLM/BH Voluntary Communications Director
A neighbor and friend stopped by my house one day six years ago and asked to sit on the front porch with her to talk. She began telling me about a place called the Bliss House. I had heard of it, but knew little about the non-profit organization.
My friend provided details of the Bliss House mission, which in essence is to bring in local women (of all ages) who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions and teach them how to live their lives clean and sober. I told her I was just too busy with my company and previous volunteer commitments. However, my friend isn’t a fan of the “no” club. She only knew the Bliss House was in need of dedicated volunteers to guide the Bliss House and ensure their continued success.
She explained the unusually high rate of success the residents have at the Bliss House, the high rate of women who successfully complete the program and stay connected to the current residents (our alumnae), and the continued need for a program like this to exist for women in our area.
I agreed to attend a meeting and was hooked. Soon I was engrained into the fabric of the program and enthralled with the committee women who were duty-bound to create bliss for the women in the home.
While impressed with the professional level of the volunteers, I was most captivated with the alumnae members who sat in each Committee meeting. They attend to discuss their direct support for the residents and to provide guidance and direction. They, after all, have each walked in the shoes of the residents and they understand and empathize with the needs of the women in recovery.
In every case, the alumnae I’ve met have been extremely intelligent, poised, and dedicated to the mission of reaching back and helping others in their journey. They believe in passing on their own experiences of rehabilitation to those who are desperately in need of encouragement and confidence. Simply put, the alumnae women of the Bliss House understand what is transpiring in the program and what is necessary for success.
Many, if not all residents have had multiple experiences in other rehabilitation programs without success. The alumnae understand the fear and anxiety regarding the Bliss House program and the possibility of personal failure. They provide hope and they provide an example of what the residents can become.
Our active alumnae step back into the Bliss House to show our residents that success is a very real possibility for them if they take the program seriously. They illustrate that lives can be reclaimed, children and family/friends can resume reunited lives, and sometimes more importantly, they demonstrate to the Bliss House residents that life can be full of fun and laughter, without the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. Often, the women residents have never experienced fun and laughter while sober.
So today, we salute these dedicated and caring women – who not only have worked to rehabilitate their own lives, but who are willing to take time to reach back and pull others up along with them. Thank you, Bliss House alumnae, for demonstrating the face of sincere compassion, empathy, and love. Your lives make a positive difference in our community.
|Posted on June 30, 2015 at 8:00 PM|
MISSION POSSIBLE: Enabling; the Unsuspected Helper to the Addict
By Julie Schwerer, Bliss House Director
It’s 10:00 a.m. and the phone rings at Bliss House. The family member is calling about one of the most important people in their lives who is in desperate need of some help to overcome an addiction; calling with the hope that their loved one would one day be themselves once again.
There is no need to speak the words that describe the nightmare their lives have become. The details are the same - the nights of lost sleep waiting and wondering if the person they love is okay. The lies that their loved one feels compelled to formulate to protect their own pride and reputation. There are the daily prayers, the begging, and then the arguments - the battles that have been fought, all the while trying to figure out what they have personally done wrong to cause their loved one to be living such a desperate life. More important, the callers ask themselves and anyone who will listen…what is still to be done to stop the madness that has corrupted their lives.
They hold onto the oath they have heard repeated over and over again—I will never to do it again. There is no need to mention how many times they have heard the words, “I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened.” They also need not tell us how many times they believed it was over until, in a matter of days, weeks, or months, the attempt turned into failure. They skip over the embarrassment of the last family party, having to explain to their grandchildren that they are loved and that their mother didn’t mean to do the things that she did. The unshakable truth is that the addiction has taken a toll on every aspect of their lives and has impacted every person involved in their lives.
The caller suffers from financial insecurity; the bills collectors start calling, the court hearings become routine calendar dates, the police visit their home often enough that they recognize the address, and strange people begin to show up as guests. Without a doubt, the family of the addict often begins to question their own sanity.
Enabling is a term that refers to the behavior of a loved one in a relationship with an addict. It is the actions taken to remove the consequences of the addict’s behavior. The well intentioned enabler tries to do the impossible which is to solve the addict’s problems for them.
Examples of enabling are: giving money, paying bills or debts, purchasing personal items, repairing property broken by the addict, lying to employers, taking on their personal commitments for the addict, making excuses, screening phone calls, and bonding them out of jail. All of these behaviors change the dynamics of the whole family so the act of attempting to help actually becomes the way in which the addict is loved to death.
The first step to changing from enabling to empowerment is not easy, however, the decision to do nothing leaves the enabler with the question, “If only I had done things differently…” The fears and excuses are varied and can include such comments as, “If she loses this job, the children will suffer,” “she is suffering in jail and needs me,” or “she can’t drive without insurance and without being able to drive, she can’t work,” etc. The truth is, it doesn’t matter how many times the family steps in and enables the addict, they are powerless over that person and her welfare.
Women (and men also) in recovery often say, "If my wife, husband, mother, or father had continued to rescue me, I may not be alive today." A long road of recovery begins with a bottom; the point at which the addict becomes sick and tired of being sick and tired. They are tired of being broke, alone, and that person experiences enough incomprehensible demoralization that the desire comes from within, not from without, and not because the enabler needs them to change.
The phone calls always end with me saying, “I need to speak directly to your loved one because it’s them who needs to take the first step and call for help.” If you find yourself thinking these words sound familiar, don’t be afraid to put a stop to your enabling behavior because it may make the difference between life and death.
Note: This column refers predominately to women, since the Bliss House is a recovery program for women.
Julie Schwerer is the CLM Bliss House Director.
|Posted on May 26, 2015 at 3:25 PM|
MISSION POSSIBLE: Helping Others Less Fortunate
By: Virginia Klemens, Past Chair, Center for Lay Ministries
As a child growing up in Massachusetts, I was aware that we were not rich. My dad was the janitor/maintenance man at my elementary and junior high school and then at the local community college until his retirement.
In spite of our meager circumstances, we were provided the example of service to others. My father volunteered with the Salvation Army. When a transient came through town, Dad would get the call in the middle of the night and go to provide housing or transportation to the individual identified to be in need.
When our car broke down on the Daniel Shays Highway one weekend as we went to have our Sunday visit with relatives, a poor family helped us get on our way again. After that, we often stopped at the home of that family to leave clothes or toys or comic books we had outgrown.
It is in my dad's honor and memory that I make a donation to every red kettle during the holidays and serve on the board of the Center for Lay Ministries.
As a non-profit agency, the Center for Lay Ministries is aware of the importance of raising and nurturing young people who embrace the value of service to others in the community. We are fortunate to have remarkable examples of service provided by adults and young people in Clark and Floyd County.
Several of our volunteers have brought their grandchildren from Jeff High and Our Lady of Perpetual Help to the Center when the students have a day off from school.
The students at Bridgepoint, Utica, Thomas Jefferson, Spring Hill and Northaven Elementary and Jeffersonville High School and their families were very generous in supporting our spring school food drive.
The Faith Lutheran Weekday pre-school, Vacation Bible School and Girl Scout Troop 1243 conduct regular food drives to stock the shelves at the food pantry.
The youth of First Christian Church have stuffed mailings and provided other CLM services under the direction of their youth leaders. Providence High School students have worked at the center to fulfill community service requirements.
High School students from around the country have served by painting and doing yard work as part of the Catholic Heart Work Camp. High school students associated with the New Albany deanery have participated in Faith in Action summer projects at CLM, as have middle school students associated with the deanery and Catholic community of Jeffersonville who participate in Summer Daze.
Our mission to provide services to vulnerable populations in the local community with compassion, dignity and respect is possible because of the young people who embrace the spirit of service to others as part of their learning and "growing up" experience. We can all learn from their remarkable example and offer our sincere appreciation and recognition as they become responsible citizens in our community.
Contact CLM (812-282-0063) if your youth group is looking for an opportunity to serve.
|Posted on April 3, 2015 at 12:40 AM|
MISSION POSSIBLE: A Peaceful Day
By Greg Henderzahs, Executive Director, Center for Lay Ministries
In early March, I was sitting in my office at CLM admiring the snow which was coming down at a very rapid pace. So beautiful, peaceful and pure and I knew the children will be out soon with their sleds. Our pantry was closed due to weather and I was a little surprised when I saw a gentleman walking away from our front door. I ran out to inquire about his need. He told me that he needed food and wasn’t aware of the pantry closure. I learned that he had walked quite a distance to seek food at our pantry. I invited him to come in and warm up. I gave him his allotment of food and was pleased that his need was fulfilled. After he went on his way, I couldn’t help thinking about the homeless gentleman and the many others who walk through our doors every day of every week. When times may look so good for some, they can be desperate or very painful for others.
I am convinced that our ministry here at CLM really makes a difference to the well-being of so many unfortunate citizens of Clark County. A ministry that I knew nothing about after living or working in Jeffersonville my entire life - a ministry started when I was in the 8th grade, one block away at St. Augustine School in 1963. I am fortunate now to have boots on the ground to see their needs first hand and have an opportunity to help all of those in need.
As I spend more time with the people we serve, I realize that CLM is a ministry that I will always support. I firmly believe, like so many of our donors, our efforts do make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate, whether it be our women in our Bliss Houses who are in recovery or those seeking nourishment from our pantry. I ask all of our readers for your continued support; the existence of this ministry depends solely on your support. Please contact my office if you can help at 812-282-0063 or mail your check to the Center for Lay Ministries at 213 E. Maple St., Jeffersonville, IN 47130. We have also made donating easier via our website: www.center4layministries.com. Thank you for your support. If you have any questions regarding your donation or of the CLM mission, please contact 812-282-0063.
The Center for Lay Ministries has two upcoming support opportunities for our community:
The CLM Thelma Matthews Food Pantry is proud to announce a partnership with Meijer to provide much-needed hunger relief to local families through the Meijer's program, Simply Give.
The program encourages customers to purchase $10 Simply Give donation cards, which are then converted into Meijer food-only gift cards and given to the CLM. The CLM food pantry will benefit from donation cards purchased at the Jeffersonville Meijer store March 29 - May 11; HOWEVER, DURING THE DATES OF APRIL 17 AND 18, the Jeffersonville Meijers will match donations by tripling each donation. Please consider shopping and Meijers and contributing to the CLM during this timeframe.
CLM Benefit GOLF SCRAMBLE: June 8, 2015, Jeff Elks Club, Registration at 11 AM (Lunch at Noon)
The tournament will be a four-person best ball scramble with shotgun start - $400 entry fee includes green fees, cart and lunch. To sponsor a team, obtain and complete a registration form (to obtain a form, contact the Center at (812) 282-0063 or stop by: 213 Maple Street in Jeffersonville).
Awards will be given to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams. Prizes will also be awarded for longest drive and closest to the pin. Sponsorships Available
WANT TO BE ON A TEAM, BUT DON'T HAVE TIME TO FORM ONE YOURSELF, JUST COME BY AND PAY FOR ONE PERSON AND WE WILL COORDINATE A TEAM FOR YOU.
|Posted on February 24, 2015 at 12:45 AM|
MISSION POSSIBLE: The Stories I've Seen
By Kaye Clark, Volunteer for CLM Food Pantry and member of the Thelma Matthews Social Services Committee
Their stories are as varied as much as their appearances; however, one thing they all have in common is - they need food to survive. The mission of the Center for Lay Ministries Food Pantry is to subsidize our client’s food supply. The shelves of the Pantry are stocked by donations from the community. In addition to the pantry food, the client can receive Dare to Care Emergency food four times a year. The Center also gives a nominal amount toward rent/utilities when certain criteria are met. Some share their stories with the volunteers and some are silent as they gather their food. As a volunteer, many clients have touched my heart and this is one of my days at the pantry.
A newly homeless young man had just spent his first night sleeping outside in a tent. He tells me he can cook food over an open fire. He was dressed in a hoodie so he was given a blanket and pair of brown cotton gloves. He is grateful.
A nicely dressed lady, in her 50’s, was here with her grown daughter, who was very thin and also nicely dressed. The daughter’s hair was very neatly tucked into a bun and her gaunt looking face showed the application of only foundation make-up. The mother explained that her daughter needed help selecting food for a special diet because the doctor said the daughter had to watch what she was eating as she was healing from a severe organ injury as a result of domestic violence.
A first timer to the Center arrives. It is a young woman in her mid to late 30’s who blushes as she enters the pantry. She utters, “Bet you don’t get many people in here with a Bachelor’s degree.” Sensing her embarrassment, I immediately replied “You’d be surprised, we once had a client who had made a 6 figure income when he was younger.
Next to arrive was an older woman in her late 40’s, very neat in appearance. She didn’t have a lot to say. Then when we went to weigh her food she said “I’d like to give you a hug, if you won’t mind.” I gave her a nice hug as she thanked us for helping her. Reflecting on what she said, it’s sad to think people feel so inferior when they have to come to the Pantry for help.
Later, I helped woman who said she was 70 years old. She began to cry as she said she never expected to come to a pantry for food. She thanked me as each item was selected for her cart. She was sincerely appreciative, as if we were giving her an unexpected precious Christmas gift.
Another very slender, well-dressed younger woman in her 30’s with very neat dark hair came in toward the end of my day. She was wearing a short wool jacket with a matching scarf bundled around her neck. She mentioned her job as we shopped for her food for herself and her two teenage children. Even working, she couldn’t afford enough food for two growing teenagers.
“But whoever has this world’s goods, and sees his brother in need, and shuts up his heart from him, how does the love of God abide in him?” [I John 3:17].
The Center has seen a large increase in the number of people coming in for help in 2014 and 2015 doesn’t look to be much different. The Center desperately needs additional individual/church/community/business/school/civic organization/corporate support to continue providing for the needy in the community.
If these stories have touched your heart, please consider a food or monetary donation, or ask your employer to consider a food drive on an on-going basis. Contact Bonnie or Greg at the Center: 812-282-0063 (website: www.center4layministries.com) for more information.
|Posted on January 11, 2015 at 12:10 AM|
MISSION POSSIBLE – Center for Lay Ministries Column
By Carol Dawson
This is a true story of faith, perseverance, and love.
The man walked to the podium with clenched hands and a look of determination that caused everyone in attendance to quiet down. He was shaking and his face was flush. The man appeared to be in his mid-40s, slight in build, with a ruggedly handsome face that revealed signs of prolonged stress. As he began to speak, his brows were knit tightly and his fingers wrapped around the podium as if it were keeping him vertical.
His voice, although amplified with the microphone, was soft. He began talking about his “little girl.” He told of her beauty and laughter as a child – of enjoying her mischievous mannerisms and love of life. The man spoke of joy, pride, and wonder of the early years and as he did his face softened. It was obvious he treasured these memories. I looked toward his daughter and could see her smiling with her father’s memories.
Then as quickly as he relaxes into the past, the father’s lips tighten and his eyes narrow. He openly discusses the darkness that his daughter was plunged into during her early teen years. He explained how quickly their lives changed and how the family was propelled into desperation along with their little girl. His daughter was no longer smiling.
He spoke of drugs and alcohol, of top grades dropping into failing grades, and of confrontation within the family and within the legal system. He lowered his head and wiped away the tears as he remembered and described the pain and anguish it caused all who knew and loved his daughter. He explained, “We could see that she was crashing and felt helpless to do anything about it. We put her through every program and rehabilitation we could and nothing was working. Our baby girl was slowly dying, right in front of our eyes.” His daughter lowered her head and looked away.
The empathy throughout the room was obvious. If you have ever loved a child, you know this could be your story.
The father keeps his head down for several seconds and finally looks toward the crowd. Tears are dripping from his chin, as he pulls up his arm to wipe them away. His face goes through yet another transformation – into a look of peace. His daughter looks up and knowingly goes there with him.
The man said, “Then we heard about the Bliss House. It was here in our own town yet we had never heard about it before. We heard it was a long term program that was successful in working with women to pull themselves together to get their lives back. We worked hard to convince our daughter to give it a try – then we all worked even harder to get her into the Bliss House program.” His daughter, still somber, nodded in approval.
The father added, “A few years ago, while in that place, our daughter’s life was saved.” The man smiled through the tears and concluded, “The people associated with the Bliss House truly cared about our little girl and they gave her all that she needed to turn her life around and become drug and alcohol free. Life may never be ideal for her, but she came back to us; free from addictions.” The daughter joined him at the podium and they hug one another. He turned to the Bliss House Director and said, “Thank you for saving my daughter’s life.” He then turned to the crowd and said, “Thank you for helping to give her back to us.”
This was a Bliss House resident’s father’s testimonial during a Valentine Bliss fund raiser three years ago. Please consider joining us for this very worthwhile fund raiser to continue the great work of saving the lives of women who are gaining control of their lives over alcohol and drug addictions to become productive citizens of Southern Indiana.
Valentine Bliss - Louisville Slugger Field Hall of Fame
February 7, 2015 – Doors open at 5 PM for Silent Auction and Appetizers - Dinner begins at 6 PM
$60 p/person (Table Sponsors $600)-RSVP: Laura Barkhauer at [email protected] /502-548-3052 -NLT January 30, 2015