EmPowering at the EmPowerment Center 

By Shelley Lee, President 

Once a seed is planted, who knows in what ways it might blossom?  The Central District, Arkansas Conference, United Women in Faith 2022 Fall Meeting was held at a location that has become very special to our Unit. The EmPowerment Center is a project of the Theressa Hoover Memorial United Methodist Church and Better Community Developers. The Center, located in midtown Little Rock, Arkansas provides care, counseling, and other substance misuse services to ten men and ten women.  

Our Unit followed up the district meeting with a January tour of the facility, arranged by Vice-President Vikki Dahmen-Jones, and a discussion with Center staff, Rev. Deborah Bell and Jennifer Johnston.  Johnston was herself a client of the Center years ago and is now a key staff member.

We were so touched by Rev. Bell and Ms. Johnston’s stories about the women served by the Center that we knew we had to do more than just come and see, look, and listen. Our faith demanded action! We asked our pastor, Rev. Betsy Singleton Snyder, about designating our congregation’s Lenten offering for the EmPowerment Center. Bell and Johnston had told us how women coming from the jail or from the street often had nothing more than the clothes on their backs. The Center provides basic hygiene supplies but the women’s needs go far beyond soap and toothpaste. A big need is to feel loved and cared for during this time.

We decided our project would be Sisterhood Bags!  Our Sewing Group said “no” to our ordering bags and offered 20 large, sturdy, handmade bags to hold all the items we could gather. Once the beautiful bags were made, we filled them with snacks, lotion, tissues, shampoo, socks, emery boards, note cards, postage stamps, brushes, combs, period packs, scented soap, drawing paper, markers, and a soft fleece throw.  We included a personal note to each of our new “sisters” to tell them they were loved.

On May 28, 2023, we celebrated Pentecost Sunday AND United Women in Faith Sunday with speakers about the project. Johnston came and shared her recovery story. Rev. Snyder and Rev. Lupita Chavarria blessed the bags and we loaded them in Johnston’s car for the trip across town. 

Two years ago, the Pinnacle View United Women in Faith was inactive and had been so for several years.  But seeds were planted and today, over a dozen committed members meet regularly. They came together to provide bags of love and care for women going through tough times. I would say our seeds have blossomed beautifully!  

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