“The Living Proof …”
by Tina J. Joyner
(The Lighthouse Inc. is a Self-Development of People partner comprised of several women in recovery from drugs or alcohol abuse. The women are learning how to become self-sufficient in a supportive peer environment. Since receiving a $25,000 SDOP grant in 2008 group members have been working on their goals by acquiring life skills and obtaining their GED. This will increase their ability to obtain full time employment and break the cycle of poverty. In late October Community Partnership Day and the Committee for Women of Color Consultation were jointly held at West Haven Presbyterian Church and at the Basset Center in Rocky Mount, NC. Planned by a team of the SDOP Committees of Salem, The James and New Hope Presbyteries, SDOP community partners, national SDOP and Committee for Women of Color the September 27 to 28 event attracted over 50 people. Below is a reflection of that time by Tina Joyner, a member of the Committee for Women of Color).
Our evening started with fellowship and dinner with the residents and staff of the Basset Center which is a homeless shelter for families. The room was filled with children and adults, lots of
chatter at each table, and there didn’t appear to be any strangers in the room. Even though the residents of the Basset Center were in a place and space other than their own, they appeared to be happy and grateful for the hot meal, a place of safety, their guests and the fellowship. This set the stage for what was to come. At the conclusion of the meal we were led in worship by the Rev. Dianna Wright from Salem Presbytery. One of the scriptures she lifted up during the service was Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” These words spoke volumes to me as I’m sure they did to others in the room. A liturgical dance by Vanessa Rorie a peer group leader with the Lighthouse project, was done to a song by Mary J. Blige entitled, “The Living Proof,” which was so appropriate not only for her testimony but also for the residents of the Basset center and even for me…
Nothing about my life's been easy
But nothings gonna keep me down
Cause I know a lot more today
Than I knew yesterday
So I am ready to carry on…
Cause I'm the living proof.
Vanessa shared her story of being a breast cancer survivor which touched my heart personally because of the loss of my sister and first cousin to breast cancer. When we entered the Lighthouse, I felt a calm and peace come over me. You see my cousin was a collector of lighthouses, and the Lighthouse home was filled with them. While at the Lighthouse, the residents also shared their stories about how they came to be there; how they work together to help each other and lift each other up and how grateful they are for having a chance to work toward a renewed life. As each resident shared their story I realized how appropriate the song, “The Living Proof,” was to the Lighthouse residents too. In addition, as the last resident told her story, she ended by saying “I know God has a plan for me….a plan of good and not evil.” I remember thinking, there’s that scripture again---God is making sure we hear His message!
(Are you a member of a group of low-income persons working on issues of importance to you and your community, will working on these issues result in long-term positive change? Are you in need of financial assistance? Contact SDOP at (502)-569-5782, (www.pcusa.org/sdop) we would welcome talking with you and possibly hosting a community workshop in your area).
Tina Joyner is a member of the Committee for Women of Color for the Presbytery of Western North Carolina.