How do we explain the evil in the world — war, murder, child abuse, hate, disease?
Greek mythology says that the first woman on earth was Pandora, created of clay or earth and water. Pandora was graced with many talents, but her overriding curiosity was responsible for her opening a jar which she had been strictly prohibited from opening. The jar contained evil which quickly spread over the earth. She hurried to close the jar when she saw the evils, but was successful in keeping only one thing from escaping, HOPE.
Retired postmaster Jenny Lind McLain, who believes in HOPE, began volunteering at the Cumberland Hope Community in Verda shortly after it opened in 2008. In her work there with women who enroll on their own or who have been court-ordered to be there, she wants to help “the ladies learn about a better way of life, to love them until they are ready to love themselves. To teach them how to be clean, sober, productive members of society.” The women are to whom she refers are addicted to drugs, to alcohol or to both.
McLain reports that the women come with “legal issues, employment issues, issues with divorce and custody of children” and “some face problems of their past, things they did in addiction and things that were done to them.”
Prior to her work at the center, she indicates that she really didn’t understand addiction issues, didn’t realize that addiction “is a disease that needs professional help, a disease that they will need to combat for the remainder of their lives.” According to McLain, the clients have “made bad choices” and some want to leave the facility shortly after arrival. To leave is to avoid facing their problems, and often “they are talked out of leaving by others in the program.”
The non-profit program, an affiliate of the Recovery Kentucky Initiative, and operated by the Cumberland River Comprehensive Care Center Mental Health, Mental Retardation Board, Inc., offers the tools for sobriety. Counseling, AA meetings, nutrition and fitness issues are addressed in a program that is normally six to nine months, depending upon individual progress. Coaching on aftercare is also a vital part so they “don’t go back to the same places and hang around with the same people that they did before,” says McLain.
McClain comes to life as she indicates, “This is not a religious program; it is spiritual. I can talk to them about their spiritual life, pray with them, if they choose to do this. I keep up with as many as I possibly can. I feel like I have many daughters and granddaughters, and some write regularly and some keep up on Facebook. It always warms my heart when I hear from any of them that they are doing what they are supposed to do and being a productive person in life.”
If reading McLain’s story makes you believe you’d like to volunteer at the center, you must first do a personal inventory. Can you treat these women with respect? Are you living a life of sobriety and are you relatively centered? Are you willing to learn what you need to know to be helpful? Are you resilient? Can you respect the confidentiality of the persons with whom you will work? Are you willing to roll up your sleeves and do whatever needs to be done? Are you realistic enough to deal with the percentage of persons in the program who won’t be able to maintain sobriety once they leave the center? Do you realize that addiction is complex with no “one size fits all” in terms of recovery?
To Jenny, to the women who work at the center, to the families of addicts, and especially to the men and women who are struggling with sobriety, I offer Romans 15:13: “Now may the God of HOPE fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in HOPE… .”
Further information: cumberlandhopecommunity.org.
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