Thankful for Memories

 In charis house

The Charis House says goodbye to a devoted leader and compassionate friend

Karen Cox, the Charis House Therapist, came to Ministry Village at Olive in November 2013 after having worked as a therapist and licensed mental health counselor for young people, adults and families. Karen is retiring this week after 8 years of serving the Lord and caring for women who needed her guidance and thoughtful prodding through the Charis House ministry. Karen and her husband Steve are returning to their home state of Kentucky where they will be in closer proximity to one of the cutest grandbabies ever born. She will be deeply missed by everyone who knows her, and we will continue to seek her wisdom – laced with the perfect blend of wit and humor – from afar. This week, you’ll get to learn a little about her time with us and why she is so beloved.

As the Charis House Therapist, Karen’s work with the ladies in the program has been a vital part of helping them succeed in facing the issues that brought them to the Charis House in the first place. Karen’s composed and open manner invited the women to feel comfortable, and she worked carefully to earn their trust and encourage each one to put in the work that real transformation requires. Karen remembers being just 12 years old when she read her older sister’s psychology textbook and instinctively knew psychology would be her path. She never deviated, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s in counseling psychology. She chose a career in counseling because she enjoyed being around people and helping people learn to better manage their life experiences.

Karen Cox with her husband Steve

“It has been a beautiful gift to work in a faith-based program,” said Karen. “The women on staff that I have worked with sincerely love the Lord, cherish His Word, and truly live out His desires for righteousness and spiritual growth. They and our volunteers are sincere models of what it is to be disciples of Christ, and what it means to be able to walk in faith and trust in Him and His ways. You cannot work in this environment and not have a personal strengthening of your faith. On a daily basis we see His miraculous and redemptive hand as relationships are restored, lives are transformed, and favor is poured out where, by worldly standards, it ‘rightfully’ shouldn’t be. My goal at the Charis House has always been pretty consistent — to provide support and insight to encourage successful recovery. I think what has shifted over time is my understanding of addiction — my knowledge about what supports success (and what doesn’t). These ladies are great teachers on many subjects.”

Karen has fond memories of her time at the Charis House. “Our Charis House retreats at Orange Beach always made for some good memories. It was a relaxed time of soaking up sun and eating too much food, but also an opportunity to interact with the ladies in a different atmosphere and observe how they were growing socially and relationally. There was a period of time where I had two House Managers living in my office (when we lost the old Phase One house to termites). It was a challenge to navigate space, but also a lot of fun. I always enjoy when we have Phase Two ladies living in the house. It is an enjoyable way to interact with them on a different level. My favorite memories are the stories of personal transformation and family restoration. There have been many of those stories over the years.” Even the more somber memories provide an opportunity for reflection and learning to lean on God’s grace. “We have lost two of our ladies to addiction during my stay here. That always required us to refocus, grieve together, and regain perspective about the importance of what we do.”

Karen deeply appreciated and depended on the support she received from the members of Olive Baptist Church, and especially the leadership and guidance of Pastor Ted Traylor. “I have gained a tremendous amount of respect for Pastor Traylor as I have witnessed his influence and spiritual leadership in our community. It has been a gift to have his support of our program and our ladies, and to know that he covers us and our community with his spiritual authority. I always love coming in on Monday mornings to hear from the ladies about what he taught them on the previous Sunday morning. I have developed lifelong friendships with some of our volunteers. They have become a support system for me personally, and together we tackle prayer needs on multiple levels.

Ms. Debbe Jefcoat, the previous Director of Women’s Recovery Ministries until her retirement in June 2020, was the person who hired Karen as the Charis House Therapist, and is tremendously thankful for her professional and personal friendship and guidance. “Karen was a God-send and an integral part of the Charis House ministry. The ladies entering the program have deep-rooted issues that need the help of a licensed professional therapist. Karen is one of the best therapists I know. She is also one of the strongest Christian women I know. God has gifted Karen with the ability to love the ladies where they are; however, she will not allow them to stay where they are. Not only is she their therapist, but she becomes their friend, and mentor as well. Karen works an individual 12-step program with each client and she also does their group therapy. Having a licensed therapist on staff at Charis House really sets the ministry apart from other programs. On a personal note, Karen helped me tremendously through one of the darkest times of my life. She has so much wisdom, and I consider her a dear friend. She will certainly be missed. She has left a lasting legacy at Charis House.”

Ms. Vanessa Bettis, the current Director of Women’s Recovery Ministries who oversees the Charis House, never thought this day would come. “I never thought I would have to bid farewell to Karen. She has greatly contributed to our ministry, and has inspired others to make a difference. I have such fond memories of us working together over the years. I love, respect, and honor Karen – she’s such a jewel. As she embarks on this new path, we wish her all the blessings and success for a bright future ahead. We will truly miss her. May the Lord lift up his countenance upon her and give her peace as she moves toward her new journey.”

After Karen and Steve take their time to settle back in Kentucky, she says she could see going back into some sort of counseling work – her deep-seated need to help people through life’s struggles will inevitably spur her into it at some point. But no matter where she ends up working in the future, she will think back fondly of her time at the Charis House. “What I will miss most about Charis House is the front row seat I had to the miraculous – transformation and redemption – and working with a team of ladies who seek Him first in all things! I have told the ladies on staff many times that the Lord did an amazing job of pulling together our unique giftings and experiences to make a perfectly-imperfect cohesive team that was positioned to meet the needs of our (sometimes) challenging group of ladies.”

Ms. Karen was definitely an important part of that team, and we will all miss having her around Ministry Village.

Find Karen’s book, “Promises For Prodigals,” on Amazon. 

Would you like to help bless the ladies of the Charis House and the work done through this life-changing ministry? There are several opportunities for you to help in a way that works best for you!

To encourage the ladies, Ms. Vanessa Bettis, Director of Women’s Recovery Ministries, is collecting donations for a bedroom makeover in the Charis House. If you’d like to sponsor a bedroom or shop for this ministry, here are the details-

If you’d like to donate to the cost of a woman’s recovery through the Charis House, you can do that too! The cost to house and care for one woman for one year at the Charis House is more than $15,000; however, no one is turned away for inability to pay. Every dollar makes a difference in changing a life. If you wish to donate to the Charis House program, here are some ways you could help. (All costs are approximate guidelines.)

  • $30 helps provide transportation to residents for one month.
  • $100 provides one month of food for a client.
  • $200 provides books for a resident’s classes for one year.
  • $1,200 provides one month of room and board.
  • $2,000 provides one year of licensed professional counseling in which all clients participate.

To make a donation to the Charis House, click here .

Volunteers are needed daily to help with the Charis House. To learn more about volunteer opportunities at Ministry Village, click here or call (850) 476-1116.

The mission of Ministry Village at Olive is to put the words of Jesus into action throughout our community – “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40, NIV) If you are looking for a place to demonstrate kindness to others for the glory of God, give us a call. For more information on Ministry Village at Olive, Inc. and its work in the community, follow them on Facebook at, on Twitter @MinistryVillage, visit their website,, or call (850) 473-4466.

The Charis House is a non-profit Christian-based residential substance abuse recovery program for females. The program is designed in 3 phases, each offering stages of recovery that provide the necessary tools for a practical transition into a new lifestyle free of addiction. The faith-based recovery program addresses the client’s personal relationship with God as the foundation for healing and wholeness. It requires a willingness to change and adhere to a controlled, strict and disciplined environment, allowing life-changing experiences to occur. There is no fee to apply.

 To learn more about the Charis House, click here or contact Vanessa Bettis at 850-475-1116 or

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