Bethesda News

Voices of Hope: Women’s Transitional Housing

“This time, it’s a lot different. I know where I’m going. I’ll have a bed with a pillow to lay my head. I’m not scared of being harmed or doing something that I really don’t want to do. I’m not getting arrested. I don’t have to sleep in my car.”

Bethesda Mission makes a distinct difference through its short-term and recovery programs. Over the course of a year, the women learn new skills, work through trauma, and learn about their Savior. When they graduate, they can move out of our shelter or apply for transitional housing on the third floor of the shelter.

For sure, these women are all taking the next step in their life journey. They are moving to our Transitional Program, which allows each woman independent living while working or attending higher education classes.

These women spent time talking with Recovery Counselor, Lori McNeil, and Women’s Director, Shelley Brooks, about the experience of transitioning over the past year at Bethesda Women’s Mission. These are their words:

“When I first came in, I was scared. I was angry at the whole world, and my self-esteem was on the floor. I had a lot of fear—yeah, a lot of fear, and I’ve learned over the past year, that I isolated because of that fear.”

“My mind was closed when I first came through the doors a year ago. I was scared because I had just been arrested and was absolutely amazed that I came to the Women’s Mission instead of going to jail. I knew this place was special my first steps in the door, but my mind was closed. Not because I wanted it closed. I didn’t know any better. I didn’t know life was any different from the poor choices that I have been making and living. I had a hard life, but I didn’t know anything different.”

Each woman who comes to the Women’s Mission is required to become a part of the community. We are family, a sisterhood that encourages dignity and respect for all. We call it, ‘love with the love of Christ’. All women are required to complete a daily household chore, participate in meal preparation, and assist in whatever may be needed at that moment to help all live safely and comfortably.

When asked what was the most difficult thing about living at the Women’s Mission, they semi-jokingly responded:

“The noise! Ya gotta accept that not everyone was raised the same way. But as I worked on myself over this time, I realized that if you don’t have enemies on the outside, you won’t have enemies on the inside. I had to accept, let go of me, and befriend others where they were.”

“Working on ME! With God! Living in a dorm setting challenges you to find your place. You have to be ‘legit’ about growing. You can’t fake it, or you will fall. You have to figure out where you plug into the life of someone else and help them, when actually, they are helping you!”

Day by day, moment by moment, the staff at the Mission supports each woman through discipleship, counseling, life skills, prayer, and the process of change. Over time, we see the transition. Fear dissipates, anger diminishes, and control becomes ‘letting God.’ We are so blessed to watch God’s faithfulness in healing and changing the human heart.

“I’m still working on patience. They have a nickname for me in the house because everyone knows I’m still working on and in need of patience.”

“Jesus never fails. I know this. I grew up in a Christian home, but I felt as though Jesus left me a long time ago. Living here has awakened me. Hands down He is my everything. HE IS everything.”

“Every day is a submittal, a time of acceptance. What is, is what it is. God brought me to this place, and I see that God is bringing me through all that I need to work through. I still need to work on trying to accept everything that comes my way.”

Looking forward to a new beginning, each woman shared her fears of the unknown and her dreams of what was to come.

“To complete my current studies next year and take my state boards to become a registered nurse.”

“When I got arrested, my daughter was 2 months pregnant. I wanted to be there to rub her belly and talk to my grandchild. I was on a prison phone when she delivered. That is not how I ever want to live again. When I saw him 7 months late and called his name, he turned to me. He remembered my voice from the prison phone. I want to learn to be a good grandmother, holding, hugging, and teaching him.”

“My life is full of service. I want to help others—the homeless, the addicted, the hopeless.”

Bethesda Mission provides hope and healing for countless men, women, and children and changes their lives forever by introducing them to a Savior who loves them.

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