By Amy Shores
Director of Pastoral Care at Methodist Family Health
While we technically refer to our campus on Fillmore Street as the “Methodist Children’s Home,” we have many different programs that happen there. One such program, Arkansas CARES, is one I was unaware existed as part of the Methodist Family Health continuum until I came on staff. “CARES” stands for “Center for Addictions Research, Education, and Services,” and the clients are all either pregnant or mothers with children (ages 12 or younger.) CARES is a three-month treatment program for women battling both mental illness and substance abuse. During their time at CARES, our ladies learn how to better care for themselves and their children, while at the same time receiving needed therapies.
My favorite part about the program, however, is the fact that the women are often able to maintain custody of their kids by participating in the program. The women live on campus with their kids, and as they are learning how to be better parents as part of the education they receive, they are also able to live out those newly-improved skills in the cottage with the help of behavioral instructors.
While I love all of the programs I can help support through Methodist Family Health, I have to say the CARES moms hold a special place in my heart. They are so genuine about their struggles and past, and the ones who stick it out and graduate have such a strong desire to better themselves and put a stop to the negative family cycles of which so many of them have been a part. Overcoming addiction and mental illness takes hard work and courage, and I can see the evidence of this every time I meet with them.
Currently, I have a lunchtime Bible study with the ladies once a week where we open Scripture and learn more about it. We also meet on Friday mornings where we focus more on spiritual disciplines and tools they can take with them upon graduation. We employ practices such as prayer beads, labyrinths, and even some crafting as we learn how these things can draw us closer to God. One of the favorite Friday morning activities for our CARES moms, however, is yoga. Bailey Faulkner, executive director of the Ozark Mission Project, volunteers her time once a month to come to lead us all in a Christ-centered yoga experience, and the women absolutely love it.
Because of the difficult experiences these ladies have faced, most of them are so eager to learn about things that can help them lead successful lives, including an active relationship with God. They ask questions during Bible study, they share their prayer requests openly, and they understand the importance that Spiritual growth will play in their overall recovery.
Would you join me this month in praying for our CARES mothers and their children? Please pray that God would continue to strengthen these ladies for the journey and that they would all come to understand the unconditional love He has for each one of them.