Center for Lay Ministries

Food Pantry/Drug and Alcohol Rehabilitation Services


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.  

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Mission Possible.4. Saving Lives at the Bliss House

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


Mission Possible 3. Yes, Virginia, There is a Santa Claus

Posted on December 31, 2014 at 1:05 PM

By Virginia Klemens

My name is Virginia, and like Virginia O'Hanlon who wrote to the New York Sun in 1897, I believe in Santa Claus.

I also believe in the goodness of the people of Jeffersonville and especially those many volunteers who support the Center for Lay Ministries. As the Editor of the Sun replied to Virginia's letter, "as certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist" so does Santa.  

In writing to the people of the community of Jeffersonville, IN, I want to make you aware of the many ways that CLM volunteers demonstrate love, generosity and devotion to the clients served through our food pantry and the program of recovery provided women residing at the Bliss House.

Devotion and dedication are demonstrated weekly by the more than forty volunteers who staff a.m. and p.m. shifts, Monday through Friday at the food pantry. The love and generosity of the people in our local congregations, public, parochial and private schools, scout troops and local businesses keep our pantry shelves stocked with non-perishable food. 

Generosity is further demonstrated by the Bliss Committee and its volunteer members who support the women of the Bliss House with programs, events and fund-raisers. Attending a Bliss House graduation is a way to personally witness the love and support for women in recovery.

Dedication is further demonstrated in the commitment of committee members serving the CLM Board. Social services, education, finance, fund-raising and a strategic plan all support our mission to strengthen our community one life at a time. Dedication to the various committee responsibilities provides the strength.

Santa visits on Christmas Eve, but the need of the clients served by the programs of the Center for Lay Ministries exists 365 days a year. If the spirit of love, generosity and devotion are to continue to be evident in our ministry we all have to believe and participate in continuing this work in our community.


Please contact CLM (812-282-0063) or at volunteer or make a food or financial donation.

Anything is Possible at Bliss House

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 10:45 PM

Mission Possible

By Julie Schwerer, Bliss House Executive Director

Mission Possible? For a plain yellow pumpkin to become a golden carriage? Impossible! We think not! Every day, little by slowly this unfathomable, extraordinary miracle is happening at CLM – Bliss House. The miracle of recovery, a transformation, an entire psychic change, a pivotal point in time where preparation meets opportunity, happens. Just ask our residents what it was like before their imaginations were fired. Just inquire what the disease of alcoholism and addiction had them believing about themselves before they encountered the love guidance and structure at the Southern Indiana Bliss House. Ask the alumnae who spent years in a prison what she now feels and believes about herself after having completed a master’s degree in social work. Ask the woman who was sentenced to a penitentiary four times how she could possibly be working at the Louisville Opera. Impossible you say?

Not for us. We see the possibility, the pure potential of the human heart and soul crying out to be free, realized…to be coaxed along, rejuvenated and to recover from a hopeless state of mind and body. The woman who arrives looking for freedom from addiction has experienced a spiritual bankruptcy like no other. She is a fighter who has come to a jumping off place in her life where she can no longer conceive continuing to live using drugs and alcohol and can’t imagine coping with life without them. This individual is encountering hopelessness like no other; a surrendering point that is referred to as the ‘bottom.’ It is the most glorious place for an alcoholic-addict to be because to quit fighting is the quintessential moment where defeat the opens the door to triumph. It is the spiritual axiom that we must surrender to win. Weakness fosters strength when we quit fighting everyone and everything in our lives. It is at that time that the Grace of God may enter. Willingness is born. It is an operative power that is like no other where the very thing that threatens to kill us becomes our greatest asset-the impetus to grow, the guiding force that creates a desire to help others through self sacrificing love and service.

Still think it is impossible? Although this phase of development is precarious and not everyone has the same experiences; what we have seen is that on a firm foundation of willingness, with a cornerstone of believing, there is a future of hope. This hope exists because of a fixed cornerstone of a decision to do whatever it takes to change. A new and triumphant arch is built that we walk through to freedom.

It is an indescribable, wonderful feeling to watch this change occur in a human being, to witness a liar, cheat and a thief regain her good standing in our Southern Indiana community. It is an episode in the Mission Possible series of transformations we are sure you would not want to miss. Just ask us we’ll tell you more about these remarkable women, e.g., the talented photographer who had to pawn her beloved camera years ago and who just recently held her first solo photographic exhibition after completing her degree. The golden carriage, God’s Love, says if we weren’t so broken we wouldn’t be so blessed so climb on board and take the ride of your life.

Julie runs Bliss House and Bliss Too homes for women in recovery.  Bliss House is a program of the Center for Lay Ministries.  Call 812-282-0063 for more information. 


Our Mission and We have Chosen to Accept It

Posted on November 18, 2014 at 10:40 PM

Mission Possible 

Written by: Greg Henderzahs and Carol Dawson 

The first question that may come to mind upon noticing this Center for Lay Ministries (CLM) column might be why we named it Mission Possible. The answer comes from the many facets of the CLM programs and the countless people in our community we impact.  

The answer could come from the hundreds of individuals who walk through the doors of CLM each month…or their children who are no longer hungry because of the food they receive. The answer might come from the many women who successfully complete the extensive Bliss House program for kicking alcohol/drug dependency…or the families of those women who gain back their daughters, wives and mothers.  

The answer could come from the individuals who receive emergency service funds; services that often are life-saving such as financial assistance with keeping utilities turned on or for rent payments to keep families off the street.  

The answer comes from the people in our community who are in need and come to CLM for a hand-up and also from the people in our community who lend them their hands – either in the form of donations or as volunteers.  

Although CLM has been the catalyst for several programs in Clark County since 1963, it is a consensus of opinion that we need to get out more. The News and Tribune has most graciously provided a forum for us to introduce our community to the Mission Possible of CLM.  

Below is the nutshell scoop on CLM: 

• does not rely on federal, state, or any other government assistance…relies upon the community (individuals, organizations, grants, etc.) for all support

• started out as a food pantry only and added other assistance programs as various needs became evident

• offer financial assistance on an emergency basis

• provide monthly home delivery of food to individuals unable to leave their home because of illness/lack of physical mobility

• offer rehabilitation facilities and programs for women recovering from drug/alcohol addictions - also offer transitional housing for women who successfully complete the programs 

Greg Henderzahs: “I came to CLM in August of last year. Although I have lived in Clark County and volunteered in many programs, I had no idea of the magnitude of the poverty in our community. I have seen the homeless, the unexpectedly unemployed, the emotionally disturbed, and many of our military veterans...all struggling to survive each day. I am convinced that CLM is making a difference.”

Carol Dawson: “I became involved in CLM 6 years ago through work with Bliss House. I have seen the Bliss House and CLM save lives – over and over. I have seen people who were once destitute and without hope transformed into productive members within our community; something considered a Mission IMPOSSIBLE before CLM Bliss House came into their lives. I also see the need for CLM services growing and therefore the necessity for addition funds and volunteers to meet those needs.”  

Your mission, citizens of Clark County, Indiana, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the call for help from those less fortunate – answer our call to become a continued supporter of our programs either financially or through volunteer efforts – or both. You can contact CLM at 812-282-0063.  

Good Luck, Clark County. We will not self-destruct after publication of this column.  

Greg Henderzahs is the Executive Director of the Center for Lay Ministries and Carol Dawson serves on the CLM Bliss House Committee.