Share Our Vision: The Drop-In Center Laundry Room

No doubt you are wondering what could possibly be exciting about a laundry room. Some of us dread doing laundry so much that we postpone it for as long as we can. I’ve heard people say their only motivation for washing clothes is that all of their favorite outfits are in the clothes hamper.

laundryBut if you have ever done without the use of a washer and dryer for any length of time, you quickly realized the benefits of having clean clothes on demand. Cleanliness may not be next to godliness, but it makes a huge difference in the way we feel about ourselves, as well as how others view us. It is also important in creating a sustainable lifestyle, as most homeless people must rely on clothing donations, and they often have to discard clothing because they cannot find a way to wash it. Thankfully, one organization offers homeless people an opportunity to wash their clothes at a local laundromat periodically, and some of our women have been participating in their program and are grateful for it.

Then why, you might ask, is it important to offer a laundry room in our drop-in center? As a commercial venture, a laundromat is not designed to give our women at least three things that our laundry room will provide: dignity, community, and additional services.

First, when the women participate in the laundromat programs it is obvious to them that they are accepting charity because the sponsor provides the money to operate the washers and dryers. At the drop-in center, they will get free use of a washer and dryer with no exchange of money and no strings attached. But out of gratitude, many of the women have eagerly offered to serve as volunteers in the drop-in center. Allowing them to serve as they are willing and able gives them the dignity of being part of their own solution.

Second, one of the main purposes of the drop-in center is to provide our women a healthy sense of community in a home-like atmosphere, where they can eat a meal together around a table, chat with a volunteer, or just relax in privacy while they wait for a load of clothing to wash or dry.

Third, the drop-in center will offer the women access to additional services a laundromat cannot provide, such as health screenings and various types of counseling.

So that’s why we can get excited about a laundry room. It will be much more than the place where we offer our women the use of washers and dryers. It will be a room where we offer them the opportunity to take care of themselves. It will be a room where they gain a sense of accomplishment in a supportive atmosphere where their multiple and complex needs are addressed. It will be a room where they can reclaim what might otherwise have been discarded. It will be a room symbolic of dealing with the past to prepare for the future. Most important, it will be a taste of home.

Will you pray with us that the God who clothes his people in clean linen will provide a way for us to open a drop-in center with a well-equipped laundry room?

How can you help us make this vision a reality?


More than a Meal

The Lisieux CommunityThursday evenings are a special time for the women we serve on the streets of Memphis. Trisha Henderson, our Survivor Advocate, and Sandra Ferrell, our Executive Director, go to a place where the women gather, taking them a meal and whatever supplies are available each week. But they don’t just drop off these items and drive away. They stay and talk with the women, encourage them, and pray with them when the women request it. They bring the love of Christ to them.

Here are just two examples of how they are connecting with the women and building trust with them:

From Trisha:

When people are caught in the grips of addiction, it’s so hard to break free or even see themselves free. The person addicted not only suffers but the whole family suffers. Our sistas on the streets sometimes talk about their children to us. Some talk about how proud they are of their children’s accomplishments. Some have lost custody of their children and talk about how they miss them. They all shed tears when they talk about their children—some are happy tears, some are sad tears.

What we, Lisieux Community, want them to know is that when they get tired and want their life to change, there are people who are willing to help them, pray with them and walk alongside them every step of the way.

From Sandra:

Trisha had picked up things for the black women to use on their skin and hair, and we passed those out in small bags. One woman needed a pick, and all of them had been passed out before she got her bag. I hesitated before I reached in my purse to get mine out. I was concerned that she would be offended that it was used, and I didn’t have a place to wash it. When she saw that it was mine, she cried. She cried because I gave her something personal of mine.

The women want so little and give so much.

You may not realize that a great deal of preparation goes into every one of these visits. Trisha is doing a great job of gathering donations of needed items such as shoes, socks, hair care products, and bus passes. She is also making contact with various organizations that can provide assistance to our women and help reduce their vulnerabilities.

Trisha, Sandra, and the volunteers who assist them are living out the mission of the Lisieux Community to provide support and education for women who have survived trauma, addiction, prostitution, and life on the streets. And this is our mission because we believe every human being is worth the effort. As recipients of grace, we have no choice but to lavish it on others, especially those who need it most.

We continue in this much-needed ministry with the resources we currently have, but just think how much more we will be able to do when we open the drop-in center. Please continue to pray with us for our women, and pray that we will be able to serve them even better in the days ahead through the drop-in center. If you are already donating to our work, we are more grateful than we can say. If not, please consider becoming a monthly donor and move us closer to our goal of opening a drop-in center. You can have a part in providing help and healing to women who have lost hope. Is there any higher purpose than that?


Introducing Trisha, our new Survivor Advocate

The Lisieux Community is pleased to announce that Trisha Henderson has accepted the position of Survivor Advocate in our new program. Trisha, a Certified Peer Counselor, was one of the guest speakers at our Holiday Social in November 2018. She has worked at Lakeside Behavioral Health System for two years with people in recovery from substance abuse, and before that she worked for a year at BabyLove, a residential facility for pregnant women.

Trisha has served as a volunteer with Lisieux over the past three years, and for the past three months she has led our weekly visits to deliver food and supplies—as well as love and encouragement—to the women we serve on the streets. In her capacity as Survivor Advocate, she will be a key component in helping build a relationship of trust with the women, assessing their needs and helping communicate those needs to our donors. She will also train the volunteers who will interact with the women. Trisha is passionate about helping our women see their worth and learn their options, and we know they will greatly benefit by her ministry among them.

See Trisha in a recent story on WREG

Life Skills

To ensure that our residents learn to be self-sufficient before graduation, we help them to develop life skills, a broad term that includes any skill that enables a person to function well on a daily basis. One such skill is that of making informed choices about the use of available resources.

Although life skills can be taught in a classroom, some information can best be learned in a practical setting. For example, weekly grocery shopping trips provide an opportunity for learning how to work within a budget to select enough nutritious food for three meals a day until the next shopping trip. Success at this venture requires a good deal of planning and discipline, and if we’re honest, most of us do not achieve this goal every week, especially when prices fluctuate, familiar products are unavailable, or our household circumstances change.

Therefore, when two new residents were added to the house a few weeks ago, the regular shopping list was no longer sufficient. The available funds had increased, but so had the need, and the first grocery purchase after their arrival went over the targeted total. But after a few gentle reminders of how to shop on a budget, the women made conscientious selections during their next shopping trip and were delighted to find that their total was well under budget. Groceries were loaded into the car to the joyful sound of cheering.

This kind of victory is both the evidence of and the motivation for continued transformation. Learning life skills empowers our residents, and that makes us want to cheer right along with them.