Many of us probably remember the miracle of the loaves and the fishes from our Sunday school days. Jesus took a little boy's generous gift of his own lunch and multiplied it to feed more than 5,000 people.
I believe that God is still in the miracle business. In fact, there are miracles happening right under our noses here in Trumbull County. Many of these miracles happen at the Warren Family Mission.
Most people think of the mission as just a soup kitchen. While the staff does provide three meals a day at their Elm Road location, they do far more than that. The Mission, founded in 2001 by Pastor Chris Gilger, provides clothing, food and household items to low income families. The mission has holiday and community meals.
Shelter is provided for the homeless in extreme cold and hot weather, and temporary housing is available for families in a housing crisis. All of these things are wonderful and certainly praiseworthy, especially when you consider they are done without any government funding, but the Mission also has some other programs that are truly miraculous.
I first learned about Warren Family Mission last year when my son and I spent a day working at Hannah's House with his youth group. Hannah's House and the Mission's other men's program are one-year faith based residential treatment programs for men and women with substance abuse and other issues.
One thing that impressed me was that the women worked beside us as we did landscaping and other jobs around their home. Sometimes when people receive charity, they grow to have a sense of entitlement. These women didn't. They were grateful that people cared enough to help them. We spent an awesome day, working with the women and hearing their stories.
The women who live at Hannah's House come there in different ways. Some are court ordered in lieu of jail. Some have come to the Mission for food or shelter. Many of the women who come have tried multiple other programs with no success.
Michelle Beauchene, the director of Hannah's House, says that what sets Hannah's House and the mission's men's discipleship programs apart from others is first that they are faith-based. The men and women who are a part of these programs are taught that saving faith in Christ can help them overcome their addictions, and they are nurtured in that faith. Second, the long-term nature of the programs helps ingrain new habits and ways of living that will support them in staying sober.
Besides the Christian education part of the program, the men and women are taught life skills and work skills. A GED program is available for those who need that. They are given education in how to have healthy lifestyles. The men and women are also required to participate in a faith-based 12-step program on site.
At about nine or 10 months into their stay, they begin to focus on things like goal setting and resume preparation. They are prepared so that when it is time for them to move on, they have the skills to cope on the outside and be productive citizens.
At Hannah's House, there are apartments so that some women who need a little more support after the year can stay on with more freedom and less structure. These women work jobs, but live on site and have to conform to some rules like curfews and random drug screening. Some of the men and women move on to college or technical schools.
All are given the support they need to succeed after they leave. Michelle estimated that the relapse rate in the last four years at Hannah's House has been less than 5 percent. Compare this with a National Institute on Drug Abuse statistic that 40 percent to 60percent of drug addicts relapse.
I had an opportunity recently to go back to Hannah's House and visit with some of the women there. Three of the women shared their stories with me. All three had some common threads.
All spoke of how grateful they were for Hannah's House, how much their lives had changed and how their relationships with their families had changed. Each spoke of the goals she has for when she leaves Hannah's House. Each of these women represents not just a life that has been changed, but also a family where the cycle of addiction and poverty are stopped- a family given a legacy of new life.
When you change a life, you change a family. When you change a family, you change a community. Just like Jesus multiplied those loaves and fishes of the little boy, the work that is done in one person's life by the Mission multiplies to change that person's family and the entire community.
For more information about the Warren Family Mission and its programs visit the web site www.warrenfamilymission.com.
Yoder is a Farmington resident. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.