Newsletter: Winter 2020

Looking back at the year 2020 brings many conflicting emotions. The year was a difficult year for many people, and I am sure some reading this letter have faced some hard and trying days. For Restoration Advocates, the year was incredible. We saw God work in miraculous ways to provide the safe haven we had dreamed about and hoped for.

Since opening the shelter in September, the RA Board members have learned some valuable lessons. We have had five women stay with us during that time and through our experiences with those residents we realized we needed to make some changes in our facility.

We realized that we absolutely need laundry facilities on site. The idea of women being able to go somewhere to wash their clothes is not practical, and really not safe. We have taken steps to turn a half bath into a laundry room with a washer and dryer for their use. This requires work of a plumber and an electrician and should be completed before the end of January.

Due to some alarming events, we decided we absolutely must have a security camera. We purchased a doorbell camera security device which is installed. Our WiFi connection was not strong enough to connect the doorbell with our hotline phone, so we have ordered a wifi booster which should take care of that issue. We are also installing motion activated outdoor lights. With these steps, we will now be able to see anyone who approaches the building. The hotline phone will be alerted if the camera shows anyone at the building and we can see the person.

Our experience with the residents showed us that we need a person who will be available most of the time. Some of the women needed almost constant care. They were extremely insecure, lonely, felt isolated,  and were easily frightened. Because of that, after a meeting of the Board of Directors, we have decided that I will become the Executive Director. I will retire from my position at Cottonwood Church on January 31 so that I can be more available for RA; to be able to better take care of practical organizational needs, work more closely with our volunteers,  but mostly to be on call for the women we are caring for.

We feel that the each of the women we have had as residents has taught us valuable lessons so that we will be better prepared for those God will bring to us in the future. As I look forward to this year, I am filled with gratitude; grateful to God for all that He has done for Restoration; grateful to each one of you who has supported and continue to support our efforts to provide a safe place for women and children who need a place of refuge.

Jeannette Maxwell
Executive Director

Newsletter: Spring 2021

Most of us enjoy seeing spring arrive; warmer weather, flowers blooming, trees turning green, it seems like a time of fresh starts and new beginnings. At Restoration Place, we have seen fresh starts and new beginnings in lives of several women. In this letter, I want to share some stories with you, without sharing any confidential information on the women.

M was one of our first residents in the shelter. She had lived in another state but had  been in a long relationship with a man in this area. When he visited her last year, he encouraged her to come back to Texas with him, leaving her children temporarily. He promised to help her get her children after she was settled in and had a job. After a few months, he was not willing to help her get her children, and he had become abusive. She called a local agency and explained that she was here with no support, nowhere to go, and no transportation. After some discussion, the agency referred her to us. She came to the shelter afraid, confused, discouraged, and depressed. She had a job that was 20 miles away and no car. For a few weeks, she worked to find rides with coworkers, but that was not always possible. I reached out to the community, and a car was donated to RA, which we had repaired and signed over to M, who signed an agreement to pay us to cover our costs.

We are committed to assisting our residents in getting a car  if she is  has a job and is working to rebuild her life in a responsible way, but we feel that the resident needs to pay something for the car, to increase her feeling of ownership for it.  M was thrilled to have a car which she used to get to work every day. She was doing well but desperately missed her children and was eager to get back to them. After a few weeks, she called to tell me that she was on the way back home, was very grateful for everything we had done for her, but she had to get back to her children. I spoke to her a few times after she left and could tell she was having difficulty finding a job and a place to live to restore her family but she was persisting. I was surprised to receive a payment on the car in February, and another one in April. Although life was hard for her, M fulfilled her agreement to pay for the car we provided for her.

In February, I had a call from T, who had seen a poster with our number. She wanted some advice and information about what kind of help was available. She has been married for 17 years to a man she loves and has been good to her and their children but four years ago he went through some extremely difficult circumstances and became angry. His anger led to outbursts and he became physically as well as mentally abusive. A few weeks later, T called again, this time ready to leave her husband. We put her and her children in a hotel for the night, then took them to Restoration Place. After a few days, T let me know she was going back home because her husband had moved out of the house so that T and the children could move back in, and he promised to get help with his anger.  In her text, she said, “You guys are amazing and y’all don’t know even these last days have been a huge blessing. Y’all truly are angels!!!!”

These are just two stories which I hope give you some idea of the work we are doing. Since September 1, we have had nine women and four children stay in Restoration Place.  I am extremely grateful for this shelter and everything we are able to do to help women and children to be safe because of the wonderful support from our community. Thank you for your continuing support.
 
Jeannette Maxwell
Executive Director

Newsletter: Summer 2021

Usually in the newsletter I focus on the activities at Restoration Place. Providing safe shelter for women in unsafe homes is important, but that is not all we do. 
             
We work with other agencies in the area to fight against domestic abuse and to  promote healthy relationships. We give presentations to civic groups of all kinds to help the community gain knowledge about the problem of abuse, the need for help in our area, and the resources we provide.
 
Last year I responded to a request on Facebook from a woman who needed furniture. I found that she had fled an abuser and had been living with her parents. She rented a place of her own but had no furnishings.  My husband and I met her at the RA storage building which contains donations we have not needed at the shelter and loaded our pickup and her car with furniture and kitchen supplies and took everything to her new home.

When we get a call from a woman in need of help, we pay for a motel for one or two nights as we listen to her story, discuss her options, and tell her about Restoration Place.  Sometimes during that time, the abuser  promises to make changes and a woman will decide to go back to her home to try to reconcile. We determine to never judge and are clear that we will support her in every way we can. This service has been valuable. As one woman put it, “This cooling off period has been a God send for me. I can’t thank you guys enough for coming thru for me. It means the world when you feel like you have nobody. Thank you for all you are doing! I truly cannot express that enough.”  She headed back home with the assurance that we are available if she needs us again.
 
We have phone calls from women who are not ready to leave an abusive situation but want to get information and we are happy to help out in that way. Some have questions about the process and resources that are available to them.  Many have questions about their legal rights. We are careful to not advise beyond our knowledge or ability, but we can give the women basic information such as the fact that their children will not be taken from them if they leave, or that they will not lose everything if they walk out.  A few months ago, I had a call from a woman who said, “I know I need to leave my husband, but I don’t know how.”  We discussed her options and I helped her devise a plan. She was working but did not have control of finances.  With permission from her husband, she began to put aside cash to save “for a family vacation,” which she kept in a safe place.  She applied for and was hired at a new job without her husband’s knowledge. She hired a lawyer. She rented a house and and was able to take her children and, with some help moved into her new home.

The hardest question to hear is, “Will God forgive me if I divorce my husband?” My answer comes quickly and without reservation, “God forgives you for everything. BUT leaving your abusive husband is not something that requires forgiveness.”  The understanding of these women is that God declared marriage to be permanent and commanded his people to not divorce except in cases of adultery. People sometimes quote a verse in the Bible, Malachi 2:16, “God hates divorce.” But that is not the entire verse. This is what God says in that verse. “I hate divorce. I hate the person who covers himself with violence…Be careful not to be unfaithful.” God is speaking very specifically to men who were unfaithful to their wives, then sent them away by divorce. His purpose in speaking about divorce was to protect women who were being abandoned without any means of support. God does not want any of his daughters to live in violence, under threat, being controlled and demeaned. Does God value marriage? Yes, absolutely. God does not value marriage more than women, more than children. God desires that every woman be valued and cherished. Restoration Advocates agrees that women are of great value and should live in freedom and safety and that is why we are here. Thank you for partnering with us in that mission.
 
Since we opened Restoration Place last year, we have provided shelter for thirteen women and eleven children. Thank you for your support. Your donations have made possible everything we do.

Jeannette Maxwell
Executive Director