by Sherrie Norris
Kari's Home for Women is quickly taking shape for a spring 2014 opening, said executive director Michelle Lundgren.
Lundgren and her husband, John, are pursuing their family's desire to bring hope to others who have been entrapped by drug and alcohol addiction.
The Lundgrens met while serving on the board of Freedom Farm Ministries, a local drug and alcohol rehabilitation ministry for men, where they became aware of the need for a similar outreach for women. With the blessings of Freedom Farm, they began to seek a group with which to partner to make that happen. Sadly, they discovered that no other groups were available within a 75- to 100-mile range of Watauga County. That knowledge fueled their motivation to pursue the opportunity to provide a safe place for women to experience healing and deliverance.
The Lundgrens spent the summer of 2012 researching, visiting similar organizations and recruiting others to come alongside them to lend professional expertise.
Within a short time, they obtained incorporation for Kari's Home for Women, as well as a nonprofit status. They put into place a six-member board of directors consisting of administrators of drug and alcohol recovery ministries, leaders of faith-based recovery groups, financial experts and counseling professionals. In addition to the Lundgrens, the board includes Doris W. Isaacs, treasurer, Stephanie Davis, secretary and John Padgett, Trish Martin and Susan Daley; they are joined by a board of advisers and a prayer team.
Kari's Home, which will be located in Western Watauga County, recently held its first major fundraising event in November and raised more than $10,000 toward operations. "Key volunteers are now beginning to come forward as we move forward with additional fundraising, community awareness and networking," Michelle said.
The Lundgrens who attend Alliance Bible Fellowship and are active in the life group and women ministries there, have gained a impressive support system for their project.
"Our plan is to serve women ages 18 - 40 who desire to approach their recovery from a faith-based perspective," Michelle said. "They must not have used drugs or addictive substances for a minimum of 30 days prior to admission."
Women will not be allowed to bring their children and the location of the ministry will not be publicized for safety concerns. However, visitation opportunities will be available for family members.
"This program is a focused solely on getting the women to a place of stability and continued sobriety," Michelle said.
Meeting the need
Meeting the needs of women who are in recovery from addiction to drugs and alcohol or who are recovering from abuse or emotional trauma is what Kari's Home for Women is all about.
"Our purpose and mission is to provide a residential setting where women can heal in a Christ-centered environment, experience female mentorship, participate in focused Bible study and participate in structured community involvement as they learn to live life soberly and productively," Michelle said. "The intent is to prepare these women to return to society with new coping skills and with the ability to care for themselves through the life preparation skills they learn while a resident at Kari's Home.
Because Kari's Home is a Christian, faith-based ministry and not a rehab program, its programming will focus on helping the women recover through the empowerment of a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
"We will welcome those who do not profess to be a Christian," Michelle said, "but they will be expected to participate in the Bible studies and follow rules and regulations, violation of which will result in immediate dismissal."
The daily routine will include both personal and corporate times of Bible study and worship, as well as a personal time of discovery and healing.
The women will be assisted in their studies by staff and volunteers from local faith-based groups, churches and related organizations; one-on-one counseling will be provided by trained psychological and pastoral counselors.
To help subsidize operating costs, the residents will also participate in daily chores, such as gardening and preserving the harvest and working together in group activities," Michelle said. "Women from the local community will serve as mentors and role models as they teach life-skills classes, such as cooking, sewing, budgeting, exercise, time management and parenting."
The initial pilot program for Kari's Home will be six months. The future success of program graduates, Michelle said, will depend in part on making available the resources that the women will need to transition into a lifestyle of selfsustainability and sobriety.
Kari's Home for Women is a donor supported nonprofit. "Although we do have a fee structure set up for those women who have a sponsoring family member or church, the vast majority of our residents will be without financial resources," Michelle said. "Sustainability will be dependent upon raising funds from like-minded individuals, businesses and churches.
"Household and gardening supplies will be solicited through our newsletter and website," Michelle said. "Pro-bono or reduced rate services will also be solicited for programming needs, such as professional counseling and for operational needs, such as maintenance and repairs. For-profit enterprises are also being considered such as making handcrafted items to sell at craft fairs and growing extra produce to sell at the local farmers' markets."
Kari's Home for Women is named in memory of Kari Lundgren, John Lundgren's oldest sibling, who died at age 18.
The proposed location for the ministry once served as a dairy farm and a summer camp for children.
"It offers a serene environment, the ideal place for women to intentionally focus on the issues that are fueling addictive behaviors," Michelle said.
In their research, the Lundgrens learned that women living in the High Country region, especially Watauga, Avery, Ashe and Wilkes counties who are struggling to overcome addictive behaviors, have few choices for recovery in a residential setting.
"Local agencies can provide a woman with temporary shelter if she is in a domestic violence situation or overnight accommodations if she is homeless," said Michelle, "and the local network of mental health providers can provide her with counseling for a fee, but they cannot offer her a safe place to regroup and concentrate on her behavior and the causes of her compulsions and addictions.
If the woman is pregnant she can access free resource and counseling; if she needs food or medication those, too, are available. But what is not available is a faith-based, residential recovery program to help women heal emotionally, physically and spiritually."
The program is a focused solely on getting the women to a place of stability and continued sobriety.
The ministry has purchased a used double-wide mobile home, which will accommodate up to four women. Other buildings on the property will be renovated to house additional participants as funds allow.
Supporting Kari's Home for Women
Gifts to Kari's Home for Women may be mailed to P.O. Box 284, Vilas, N.C. 28692
Credit card donations are also accepted. Call Michelle Lundgren at (828) 406-7591 or email (Karishomeforwomen@gmail.com) to make a credit card donation.
Gifts items will also be needed to refurbish and furnish the mobile home, equip the office and stock the pantry.
For more information, visit http://www.karishome.org, or follow on Facebook.