DENHAM SPRINGS – A Livingston group that helps women rebuild their lives is looking for a few adoptions.
Individuals, groups or businesses are being sought to “adopt” a room in A Door of Hope’s building to provide the items needed to outfit some dorm rooms for women needing a place to escape domestic violence or start the first steps in rebuilding their lives.
That’s the concept outlined to the Denham Springs Kiwanis Club on Thursday, May 11, by Shona Sanders, of the faith-based non-profit group.
Sanders said she was a stand-in for A Door of Hope founder Kristen Maddox, who was teaching a class that day.
Sanders began as a counselor at A Door of Hope, she said, then began her own ministry, but she is still connected with the group as a member of its board, a teacher and its receptionist.
The group has a two-story building and planned in January to two rooms with four beds for women needing temporary housing.
But a pipe burst, Sanders said, delaying the project.
A long-term project also is to build another facility that can house women and their children, she said.
“If someone wants to adopt a room, they can pay for whatever is in that room,” Sanders said.
If someone wants to start smaller, they could “adopt” a microwave for the kitchen or other kitchen items, a couch, desk or computers, she said.
Offering a residence would be an addition to the services offered by A Door of Hope, Sanders said, which includes free classes and individual and group counseling, Sanders said.
For example, on Thursday is the breaking cycle class, which focuses on addressing “destructive” issues such as addiction, sex abuse, eating, “any behaviors that are destructive,” she said.
Alternating on Fridays is the intentional butterflies class, for weight loss, and the soar class, for women dealing with child sex abuse or trauma issues.
Other services include a food bank and the Hope Closet, a clothing shop for girls or women.
A baby boutique also is offered, Sanders said. Women came come in and fill a diaper bag with baby supplies, formula and diapers.
A Door of Hope also sponsors an annual retreat at the Rosaryville Spirit Life Center in Hammond for 60 girls and women.
“People ask what is our success rate,” Sanders said, “How many do you see coming from jail or with life-controlling issues that we help.”
Sanders said she can’t provide a success rate.
“Girls come in, get help and leave,” she said, “We see them come and go. They go up and down. We keep pushing to get them back up,” to improve their lives.
“These ladies move off to other places, but in the process, something we gave them helped them to continue the healing process,” Sanders said.
Sanders told the story of Hannah, a hearing-impaired 16-year-old brought by her mother, who she worked with as a counselor.
“Now most teens don’t want to talk to adults,” Sanders said. “She would not open up. I asked her name, how was your day, and she just sat there. I could tell she was full,” of issues.
“I was the only one talking. I felt frustrated. I said, ‘How do I handle her?’ The Lord said bring colored pencils and sheets of paper.”
On her next visit, Sanders gave her the pencils and paper and asked her to draw what she felt inside.
Sanders passed the drawing – done only with a regular lead pencil -- to the Kiwanis members.
It showed a heart broken in different places with an arrow through the heart and “tears, or blood” coming from arrow, she said.
“Big loser” was written in one corner, and “I don’t know what I am supposed to do in school.”
“Hannah told me she can’t think of schoolwork because of what she has to deal with at home,” Sanders said.
When asked why she drew the heart with an arrow, Hannah told her “It’s an arrow through my heart because that’s how I feel. It hurts and I’m a big nothing.”
Hannah told her she did not like school because she saw a friend being bullied and she took up for her; she also saw her mom bulled at home, Sanders said.
“She saw herself as a big nothing. She had no self-esteem; everything was wrong to her,” Sanders said.
Sanders said she showed Hannah how she drew, “I can only do stick people. Hannah thought that was funny. I told her she took up for a friend. You’re an amazing friend.”
After three months, Sanders said Hannah was sitting higher in her chair. She asked her to draw another picture.
“The arrow was changed,” Saunder said, and it said, “ ‘I feel more happy.’
“I’m doing a lot better than I was,” Hannah told her.
“You’re a good person, an honest person, a good friend and a good artist,” Sanders said she told her.
“That’s what I tried to make her see. If you see yourself as a good person today, that’s enough,” she said.
Hannah stopped coming to A Door of Hope, Sanders said, but she said she believes they plantrf the seed that the teen could use to see herself differently.
Kevin Fambrough is a reporter at the Livingston Parish News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow him on Twitter at @fambroughkevin.