It’s a calling. A mission. A sacrifice. Both an incredibly demanding and rewarding experience. House Manager for Homestead Ministries.
Sandy was our first house manager. A beautiful person in her 60’s, single, with a supportive family. Sandy felt called to give of herself in the live-in 24/7 full time non paid role to make a difference. And she did.
Sandy is one of the most loving people on the planet. She held the girls, day or night when they needed held. She listened and loved. She spoke truth, often bluntly but always lovingly.
Early on, we had very dysregulated women, not ready for the program whose emotions could snap without warning. Sandy called me one day as I was filling in for Deb, and said, “I need you to come over here right away. These girls are arguing and threatening to hurt each other. I told them, ‘you lay a hand on each other, I will take you out.’” I asked Sandy what she expected me to do, it sounded like she had everything under control.
Sandy served Homestead for 5 years until she developed health problems that made it impossible to continue. We were so very blessed for her time at Homestead.
After Sandy came Veronica. Veronica was a more mature graduate that demonstrated the stability to hold several jobs and stay sober. She stepped into the role that offered only room and board. Veronica organized the girls and started a chore chart. On the surface, it appeared she was managing well. Sadly, She was not as ready as we hoped and led the girls into unhealthy situations and use of alcohol. She was removed suddenly, saddening and disappointing all of us. (I am happy to report that today, Veronica continues her recovery journey on her own and keeps in touch with many of us).
It was then decided to put Ashley, another graduate of Homestead, in the role, and have her raise missionary funds to support herself. She was very young. Though Sandy didn’t have high standards for cleanliness or meals and tended to watch a lot of TV when not running the girls around for appointments, Ashley, like Veronica, chose to be friends with the girls. Many attempts were made to organize a calendar and chore list. Ashley simply loved and encouraged the girls. She prayed with them and mentored them. Unfortunately, Ashley’s immaturity and youth led to poor decisions. We discovered later that she had partied with the girls and that she gave in to temptations sexually seeking the validation and love she was desperate for. As we transitioned Ashley out, we again found ourselves in the position of finding a House Manager.
The Board recognized that 24/7 week after week wasn’t good for anyone, leading to high stress, health issues, and burn out. No one person could carry out this role. The board voted to change the position to two people, on a week at a time and off a week and to make the position paid in addition to room and board.
Dacia and Jenn were the first applicants accepted. Jenn is a single gal who ran the Journey House in Salina. She had life experience of addition recovery and was the perfect person for the position. Jenn found the balance between supporter and rule enforcer. The girls trusted her and followed her directions. She mentored the girls and held boundaries.
Dacia is also a single gal, young, who has a giant heart for the Lord and for serving. Dacia had a lot to learn but stepped up to the challenge and became a strong, positive influence as House Manager.
Both Jenn and Dacia stayed in the position as long as they could. Jenn, going back and forth between the two houses, needed a break and stepped down to begin he preparation work to be home manager for the Salina chapter. Dacia continued on as was joined by another graduate, Alicia.
Alicia had been a house manager in a previous program out of state before relapsing and coming to Homestead. She did fabulous job of finding the needed balance, supporting and mentoring the girls, reading between the lines, holding boundaries and enforcing the necessary guidelines and rules.
When Alicia got married and left the State, Erica, yet another graduate stepped up. Erica had stepped into a leadership program at another program out of town but quickly jumped into the role at Homestead, eager to give back. Erica, like many of the house managers before her, has had a lot to learn but easily fell into the support role. She remains house manager now.
Dacia left the program to explore other personal options so Rachel, who serves in the role of volunteer coordinator on her off weeks for Homestead, stepped into the role. Rachel, a trafficking survivor herself, does an amazing job of not taking any nonsense, organizing and mentoring the girls and earning their respect.
Homestead currently has one position open for house manager in Salina. We have some folks who are shadowing and praying about the position.
It isn’t an easy job. But like every position with Homestead, the blessings are beyond measure. Having the honor of walking alongside the courageous survivors and being a part of their journey toward healing is humbling and rewarding. We are so grateful for all the house managers who have stepped into this role and given of themselves so selflessly. ((Post written by Diane Clark)