Why Don’t They Just Do Better?

We are extremely grateful to all of you who “get” what we are doing and why we do it. Donors continue to shower us with food and supplies, and volunteers not only help distribute the items to our women, but stay for a while to offer a smile and a listening ear.

But not everyone recognizes the wisdom in showing up week after week to serve most of the same women. Some who hear about our work ask questions that begin with these four words: Why don’t they just …?

Here are a few examples.

  • Why don’t they just get treatment for their addiction?
  • Why don’t they just go to a homeless shelter?
  • Why don’t they just go live with a family member?
  • Why don’t they just get a job and stop prostituting themselves?

To offer such simplistic solutions is to disregard the enormous complexity of the problems that weigh our women down. Addiction, homelessness, prostitution, isolation, and lack of self-worth are only symptoms. No permanent change can occur until a woman is ready and able to address the root cause of these symptoms, which most often is trauma. And they will never be ready or able until they trust those who can offer them holistic, lasting solutions.

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We can’t count that high

We are sometimes asked how many times a woman may visit our planned drop-in center before we would turn her away because she hasn’t made any effort to leave the streets. Our response is that we can’t count that high. We refuse to set a limit because every woman’s situation is different, and some need longer than others to start the path toward healing. Some may never be able to make that move. Regardless, we are convinced that our efforts to show these women real love by meeting some of their basic needs is the right thing to do.

Even without the drop-in center, we have been able to build trust over the past few months, and a few women have decided to trust us enough to get the help they need. But most of them are still on the streets. Nevertheless, we cannot and will not rush the process. It takes as long as it takes.

Last Thursday, we found out one of our women had been attacked. Thankfully, she showed up before our visit was over, so her injuries were not life-threatening, but one of the other women got upset that her sister on the street had been hurt, and she became loud. Yet we continued to treat her with love and kindness. We know that when the women act out, it is the trauma talking—or yelling or screaming or crying. Our hearts break that our women have to endure such pain. Yet we must also say that we have never seen more resilient souls. They are grateful for whatever we provide. They smile and laugh despite the pain, and when they ask us to pray with them, it is a sweet moment of hope like no other we have ever experienced.

Please continue to pray with us for these precious souls whose eternal worth gives us joy, even as we grieve for their situation. Please give whatever you are able so that we can open the drop-in center, where we will be better able to meet their needs.

Thank you.

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The Mission of Lisieux

On January 7 we announced that Thistle & Bee has leased our residence, so you may be wondering what we are doing now. We want to assure our supporters that the mission of the Lisieux Community has not changed. We continue to provide support and education for women who have survived trauma, addiction, prostitution, and life on the streets. That is where our heart has been and will remain.

But over the past four years we have learned a great deal about how deeply trauma has affected the women we serve, and we came to realize that an important piece is missing between their time on the streets and their entrance into a residential program. That piece is trust. Some of the women accepted in our program stayed only a few weeks, in large part because they were not yet able to trust.

Imagine you had spent months, years, or even a lifetime in which your only interaction with other people was to be manipulated, exploited, and traumatized. Even if someone offered you a safe home and resources for health, education, and personal growth, the defense mechanisms you had developed in order to survive might not allow you to let down your guard. Women who have been on the streets have a difficult time getting past the question, “What’s the catch?” They do not understand why anyone would help them without wanting something in return.

What, then, is the remedy? Simply put, we must meet women where they are and interact with them with no strings attached. Our first step has been to begin building relationship with about 20 women, meeting with them one night a week to provide nourishing food, as well as warm hats, scarves, socks, and other supplies. By showing them that we truly care about them as people and not as a project, we begin to build their trust.

As you can see, although our mission has not changed, our focus has. So if someone should ask you what we do, you can tell them this:

The Lisieux Community serves those women on the streets who are not yet ready to live in a residential community because their past has taught them not to trust easily. Our goal is to meet their immediate needs, while showing them that other choices are available to them. Though we cannot change anyone else, we can empower women by offering the support and resources they will need when they are ready to choose a different life.

The most important thing we do is love the women we serve right where they are today and then do it again tomorrow and the next day.

We hope that by now you are now wondering how you can help. Here are some practical opportunities for you to be part of the work of Lisieux:

  • During these cold winter months, we need warm hats, scarves, gloves, and socks. You can call 901-800-8840 to arrange to have your donations picked up.
  • All year round, we need travel-size toiletries and washcloths.
  • For $100 you can sponsor a nourishing meal to the group of women we serve.
  • If $100 is not in your budget, then consider the following:
    • $25 will sponsor gas for our van for a week.
    • $25 will sponsor enough fresh fruit for a meal.
    • $75 will sponsor the main portion of a meal.

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As always, we cannot do this without you, our faithful supporters, who share our desire to see that every woman has the resources she needs to thrive. Thank you in advance for your continued support.

Giving Beyond Tuesday

Maybe you don’t find it difficult to ask other people to donate to the causes you support, but we sometimes do. As committed as we are to the work of the Lisieux Community, it is not always easy to ask for money. Maybe it’s because at this time of year we are all bombarded by requests for donations. Giving Tuesday is followed closely by year-end appeals, with each worthy organization vying for your attention with the reward of a tax benefit held out in front of you like a carrot on a stick. Did you know there’s a term for the exhaustion you feel at receiving so many appeals? It’s called donor fatigue, and it can make you want to wash your hands of the entire process. But that would be a shame.

So here’s what we propose. First, catch the vision that we have for the women we serve. We want to make a lasting impact on the lives of women who have endured trauma, addiction, and prostitution. We want them to exchange exploitation for empowerment.

Second, commit to supporting this work as you are able. Just as we know that meaningful change in the lives of survivors takes place little by little over time, we ask you to provide for that change little by little, in the form of a monthly donation. To borrow a phrase from St. Thérèse of Lisieux, we are asking you to make small sacrifices for the sake of love.  You can make a one-time or recurring donation through PayPal by clicking on the button below.

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rosetrans50If you make a monthly commitment by December 31, 2018, you will have the honor of being listed as a Founding Rose Garden Member on the Lisieux website.

Read more about the Rose Garden

Thank you for reading yet another appeal, and thank you for your generosity.