A Safe Place to Spread Her Wings – Part 2
The Role of the Esther House –
In last week’s MVO blog, we learned about the tragic death of a Charis House graduate, and the generous gift she left behind for Ministry Village. This week, we learn more about how that gift will provide a place of safety for women to begin the transition back into society.
In 2018, a home adjacent to the Ministry Village at Olive property became available. Olive Baptist Church acquired the property, and transferred ownership to Ministry Village. Construction professionals evaluated the home and saw no redeemable value in it. “They thought it should just be torn down,” recalls Stan Lollar, Executive Director of Ministry Village. “It was old and outdated – it had seen better days. It needed a lot of repairs, so they thought it should just be demolished. We looked at it, walked through it, and thought that with some hard work and investment, we could make something worthwhile out of it. We saw its redeeming value. After all, that’s what Ministry Village does. Every person is worth investing in – the time, the effort, the love of Christ. That’s what redeems all of us. This building was a real-life example of that.”
“The Esther House was purchased from Mrs. Queen,” remembers Pastor Ted Traylor of Olive Baptist Church. When it was decided that Ministry Village would use it for Phase III of the Charis House ministry, Pastor Traylor wanted to find a Biblical queen whose faith was significant. “Queen Esther was in her position ‘for such a time as this’. Calling it The Esther House seemed to bring the two together.” Queen Esther was a woman of great faith who was in the right place, at the right time, to help save her people. This home would serve to provide women in need, at a tenuous time in their lives, with a safety net. The name was chosen, and the program began to take shape.
Volunteers completed most of the repairs and work done at the home, with the estate donation from a Charis House graduate providing the financial piece. David Channell and Thomas Noel led the group of volunteers who repaired wood, installed floors, painted rooms, delivered appliances and more. “We couldn’t have done it without those two men and all the volunteers that helped us complete this project and stay within our budget,” says Stan.
The Esther House will serve as Phase III of the Charis House ministry. Women who have completed Phase II and meet the criteria for Phase III will be able to live in the newly renovated home located on the Ministry Village campus. They will pay rent on a sliding scale based on their income. They are permitted to have transportation, which they must provide, and can have cell phones, computers, and televisions – all things they have lived without during Phase I and II of the program. “This is an opportunity for the women to live on their own and become financially stable, while still having the accountability and support of the Charis House,” explains Debbe Jefcoat, Director of the Charis House. They will no longer be required to attend counseling at the Charis House, but can meet with the Charis House therapist, or another qualified counselor, as a paying client. They must attend Olive Baptist Church each week, be an active participant in a connection group, attend weekly Most Excellent Way meetings, and stay involved with their Charis House mentors. They will have strict guidelines in place for visitors and guests, and will be required to comply with random drug testing and house checks. They will also have more privileges and the opportunity to gain more independence – grocery shopping, keeping the house clean, paying utilities – all things that will be required of them when they are out in “the real world” on their own. But most importantly, The Esther House will provide the ladies with a safety net – a place for them to practice living on their own, but still have the accountability and resources of the Charis House nearby if they begin to falter.
A dedication service will be announced in the coming weeks, but the first client is already counting down the days until she can move in. “She is so excited,” says Ms. Debbe. “She moves in at the beginning of May and she can tell you to the day how far away that is.” The 3 bedroom / 2 bath home can accommodate up to 6 women at a time, but will only have 3 women initially, as the ladies all finish the Charis House at different times based on their individualized programs. All of the women are excited, even those in Phase I, because it gives them a goal and something to look forward to as they accomplish their plans. “They know they must complete their programs and demonstrate that they can be good family members in order to eventually qualify for the Phase III program.”
“We aren’t looking for perfection,” clarifies Stan. “No one is perfect. But these ladies have to be ready and able to deal with real-life situations, conflicts and struggles. We hope that this house gives them the opportunity to do that, but in a safe environment. The battle of addiction is like a cancer. It can go into remission; but if you don’t monitor it and stay vigilant, it can come back. The mission of this home is to prevent that sort of relapse and give these women a better opportunity for success and a new life. That’s what we all pray for them.”
- Would you like to help? The Esther House is unfurnished, and in need of everything from cleaning supplies and pots and pans to closet shelves and furniture. Gift cards and financial donations of any amount would be greatly appreciated as we establish this home for these special ladies.
- Sponsor the kitchen, sponsor a bedroom, provide a donation to purchase towels – whatever you’d like to do would be a blessing.
- Contact Debbe Jefcoat (email DJefcoat@ministryvillage.org or by phone at (850) 475-1116) to learn how you can help.