(#BestOf) Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

(the Best of) A Year of Being Kind, Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Reading through this Feature Friday post from a year ago, I am reminded again of how important this is—helping one woman at a time. Providing a refuge, a support, a place of encouragement for women in need, discouraged and hopeless. Sarah’s Circle is one of those wonderful places of encouragement and assistance. Read more, please!

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 25, 2014

heart balloons

Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

Imagine being afraid. Downright terrified. Needing a safe place to stay. On top of that, being homeless. No place to go. Nowhere to sleep. Nothing to eat. On top of everything, you’re a woman. Got that? All of those things, rolled up into a tight ball of frantic fear and anxiety.

What to do? How to cope?

There is a place to go. There is a solution.

In the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Sarah’s Circle provides a refuge for women. They may be homeless, or in need of a safe place to go, or both. Sarah’s Circle provides assistance in terms of housing, case management, referrals, and other necessities of life. In other words, this organization provides hope for women who have just about run out of hope.

A friend of mine, James, is the business manager for Sarah’s Circle. I talked with him recently. He told me this organization “is a place where any woman can come and find support no matter what their situation is.” James is quite enthusiastic about the services and other resources these caring folks provide. Their day program is open to anyone. That means—anyone. Regardless of the reasons for homelessness and loss of family, employment, living space, dignity—women can come to Sarah’s Circle and find help and hope for themselves.

In addition, this non-profit organization also supports twenty-two units of permanent housing. (This is in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.) Sarah’s Circle is an oasis in the challenging, sometimes fearsome desert that is the city of Chicago. This group helps vulnerable women through difficult times, as they rebuild their dignity, stability—their very lives.

Women have gender-specific reasons for difficulties in their lives, which include many types of trauma.

Not only can homelessness be a result of poverty and domestic violence, but Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently occurs. As a result, trauma can contribute to mental illness and substance abuse.

Sarah’s Circle reports: “Approximately 56% of women who are homeless have been sexually assaulted; this is more than three times the rate for homeless men and for women in the general population. Research shows a strong correlation between frequency and seriousness of past victimization and diagnosis of mental illness as well as reported drug and alcohol problems. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. “

Sarah’s Circle is not a religious organization, but many people of various faith expressions work or volunteer at this organization. As I reflect upon service to the poor and homeless, giving a cup of cold water to those in need, I can’t help but be reminded of the verse I’ve chosen for the month of April. Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.”

May I be given the willingness to go and do likewise. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

For more information about Sarah’s Circle in the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, check out their website: http://www.sarahs-circle.org/

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

(Suggestion: visit me at my daily blog for 2015: matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers.   @chaplaineliza And read #40acts sermons from Pastor, Preacher Pray-er – Thanks!)

Being of Service? Carrying the Message—for NAMI (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, October 9, 2014

NAMI mental anguish, mental illness

Being of Service? Carrying the Message—for NAMI (Feature Friday!)

This week, October 5th through 11th, is Mental Health Awareness Week. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is working to inspire others through sharing stories. Experiences of those brave people who face struggles with mental illness every day. This week, especially, NAMI and others all across the nation are working hard to highlight struggles—and victories!—with various kinds of mental illness.

Some weeks ago in a Feature Friday post, I shared my struggle with an especially difficult time in my life. After my second pregnancy, I developed severe postpartum depression. I did not even realize it until it was over. I was swimming through that desperate, gray, mucky water for some six months. And I cannot remember whether I came out of it slowly, quickly, or something in between. I just remember the sun seeming brighter one day, and my general attitude towards life being positive. And, the desperate grayness was gone.

For the most part, that is. Mild depression still returns, on occasion, but never like it was in postpartum depression! Looking back, it was horrific. Heartbreaking. And—I did not even know until it was over.

I want to talk a bit about my friend T. He bravely told his personal story this week, in order that other people with mental illness might not feel so alone. I am going summarize, and quote excerpts.

T used to be a church leader at a large church in the suburbs. Married, active group leader, deeply involved in several ministries. He continues, “And I was also a fraud. I had developed a pretty serious mental illness (bi-polar) and was an asshole husband.” T also developed several addictions to manage his increasingly erratic emotions.

The descent was rapid. T lost almost everything. “Separation [from his wife], restraining order, hospital, jail, long term mental hospital, GPS ankle monitor, halfway house, living with sibling, and basically hell on earth. And I couldn’t stop acting out…it was my one and only ‘tool’ for coping with life and loss.” He hit bottom. Or, the bottom hit him.

In the last two years he has gotten clean and sober and in a recovery program.

Recently, T met with several leaders to confess his shortcomings and make amends. He worked with them to be restored. He said, “I felt received, loved, and that they were ‘for me.’” Maybe Jesus does—as T says—indeed have a heart for messed up people. Thank God for grace, love, and mercy. Thank God that some people care, and listen, and welcome with open arms. And, thanks for sharing, T. There is a solution. One day at a time.

For more information, go to http://www.nami.org, http://www.aa.org, or http://www.na.org.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.

Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

A Year of Being Kind blog – Friday, April 25, 2014

heart and people illustration

Helping, Serving—One Woman at a Time (Feature Friday!)

Imagine being afraid. Downright terrified. Needing a safe place to stay. On top of that, being homeless. No place to go. Nowhere to sleep. Nothing to eat. On top of everything, you’re a woman. Got that? All of those things, rolled up into a tight ball of frantic fear and anxiety. What to do? How to cope?

There is a place to go. There is a solution. In the Uptown neighborhood of Chicago, Sarah’s Circle provides a refuge for women. They may be homeless, or in need of a safe place to go, or both. Sarah’s Circle provides assistance in terms of housing, case management, referrals, and other necessities of life. In other words, this organization provides hope for women who have just about run out of hope.

A friend of mine, James, is the business manager for Sarah’s Circle. I talked with him recently. He told me this organization “is a place where any woman can come and find support no matter what their situation is.” James is quite enthusiastic about the services and other resources these caring folks provide. Their day program is open to anyone. That means—anyone. Regardless of the reasons for homelessness and loss of family, employment, living space, dignity—women can come to Sarah’s Circle and find help and hope for themselves.

In addition, this non-profit organization also supports twenty-two units of permanent housing. (This is in partnership with the Department of Housing and Urban Development.) Sarah’s Circle is an oasis in the challenging, sometimes fearsome desert that is the city of Chicago. This group helps vulnerable women through difficult times, as they rebuild their dignity, stability—their very lives.

Women have gender-specific reasons for difficulties in their lives, which include many types of trauma. Not only can homelessness be a result of poverty and domestic violence, but Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder frequently occurs. As a result, trauma can contribute to mental illness and substance abuse.

Sarah’s Circle reports: “Approximately 56% of women who are homeless have been sexually assaulted; this is more than three times the rate for homeless men and for women in the general population. Research shows a strong correlation between frequency and seriousness of past victimization and diagnosis of mental illness as well as reported drug and alcohol problems. Women are more than twice as likely as men to develop PTSD. “

Sarah’s Circle is not a religious organization, but many people of various faith expressions work or volunteer at this organization. As I reflect upon service to the poor and homeless, giving a cup of cold water to those in need, I can’t help but be reminded of the verse I’ve chosen for the month of April. Colossians 3:23 tells us “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.” May I be given the willingness to go and do likewise. Please, God, may it be so.

@chaplaineliza

Like what you read? Disagree? Share your thoughts with your loved ones and continue the conversation.