A Labor of Love

If you follow us on Facebook or Twitter, you may already know that our community has recently lost two of our former residents a few days apart. Lindsay had left the residence about 18 months ago, but she remained in touch, and we rejoiced with her over every accomplishment. She had a rewarding job and had recently married the love of her life. Wendy was with us for only six months, but her enthusiasm was infectious, and her inquisitiveness was unstoppable. She also had a job, and more importantly a church where she was accepted and respected. She loved—and was loved by—the community of women who surrounded her. This mutual love and respect inspired growth in Wendy and in everyone who knew her. Both Lindsey and Wendy had found a significant amount of healing.

Yet all of these benefits were not enough to conquer the insidious disease of addiction.

At such times, there are more questions than answers. Some might ask whether there is any point in continuing the work that we do at Lisieux. But the real question is, was the Lisieux Community a place of growth for Lindsey and Wendy? Without a doubt, the answer is yes. We grieve over their death, and we rejoice in the healing that they had experienced. Neither of them died in the horror of trafficking. Both were working hard and using the resources needed to continue in recovery. They had made great strides since first coming to us, and we choose to focus on their many successes.

Some might also ask if this task is too great for us. While we would be negligent if we did not take time to reassess our approach after these events, we are confident that our program offers the resources needed to put the women on the road to recovery. Through cooperation with other organizations, we provide excellent resources for health care, specialized counseling, 12-step meetings, coping skills, and spiritual growth. The one change we would make is to have a full-time social worker to help each woman identify the source of her woundedness and ensure we are making the best use of those resources.

We have no illusions that we can heal anyone. What we can do is offer each woman the opportunities and make ourselves available to walk alongside our residents in their journey toward healing and hope. Each woman who comes to us has deep wounds, but she does not have to deal with them alone.

IMG_1270Before Wendy died, she had started crocheting an afghan, but she completed only a few inches. One of her many friends found it and decided to complete it. Pictured at right is this beautiful work in progress. That is the same choice we have made as a community. We will continue this work to honor all of the women who are or have been residents at Lisieux, and to be here for those who will need us in the future. We will continue crafting a community of love, for that is a powerful defense against the sorrow of this world.

We invite you to continue walking with us on this journey.

Worth the Effort

This summer our Board of Directors has undergone several changes. We’ve elected three new members, and one of our founding members has decided to take a break from board responsibilities while remaining a loyal supporter. We’ve also increased our social media presence (find us on Twitter, sign up for our email list).

Yet one thing has not changed: our commitment to providing a nurturing environment in which wounded women not only find healing and hope, but also gain the various skills they need to be self-sufficient upon completion of the program. Our motivation is simple. We believe that every human being has infinite worth, even if he or she doesn’t recognize that worth, and even if others would deny it. The women that we serve are not throwaways.

While we are committed to our purpose of empowering our residents, we are also realistic in our expectations. We have no quick fixes to offer, no instant formula for a better life. To succeed in our program, our residents must be willing to trust that the program is designed for their good. They must be willing to change and grow. Even more important, they must understand that change is usually difficult, and personal growth is often painful. Not every woman who starts the program finishes it. In such cases, we offer the opportunity to return, and we pray that the time they spent in the program helped them in some measure.

But those who stay and face the challenges are rewarded with the satisfaction of achieving their goals. For example, two of our residents are graduating this month from the Personal and Career Development program offered by HopeWorks. They have proven their work ethic through challenging internships, and their smiles shine a bit brighter these days.

We are grateful to our financial supporters, volunteers, and partner programs for helping make those smiles possible.

Welcome to the Lisieux Community

Thank you for joining us here at the Lisieux Community.  Our first residents moved into our first house (pictured here!) in August 2014.  I want to extend an invitation for you to walk along with us.

What our Board of Directors has found is that we are not here to change anyone other than ourselves.  As we have built the organization, we have learned about heartbreaking things as well as seeing strength and resilience that we’ve never seen before.  In other words, we are not the same people who started a year and four months ago.  As we change, so do our interactions with others.

We are providing a house where four women will be safe as they learn to live life in a new way.  Most women do not choose to participate in prostitution and, because of the limits of that lifestyle, they haven’t learned to care for themselves in a healthy way.  We will share a little bit about the people and organizations who are working together to provide opportunities for the women to grow.  We will also share some of the tools we are using.

Get ready to rejoice with us as milestones are reached and maybe cry with us when life is difficult.  Above all, we ask for your prayers as we move forward.

Surviving trauma and trafficking

The Lisieux Community provides a home for women who have survived trauma, addiction, trafficking and prostitution, all part of life on the streets. The women learn to live in community as they access other organizations to assist in healing. We believe that the women do not begin a life on the streets on their own, but through the culture in which we live; we want to inspire change now to transform the culture itself.

Photo by Taro Yamasaki.