Family Life Center shows kids affected by addiction ‘unconditional love’

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Children aren’t typically who we first imagine when we think about homelessness. The truth is that women and children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population.

Portland Rescue Mission seeks to embrace not only women in need of healing, but also their children who have also been deeply impacted by domestic violence and drug use.

Two years ago, the Mission started the Family Life Ministry at Shepherd’s Door.

As an integral and developing ministry within Portland Rescue Mission, Family Life Ministry provides a safe and healing place for the children of Shepherd’s Door. The Family Life Ministry staff works every day to shape young disciples of Jesus and to break the cycle of addiction and bondage experienced by our families.

While moms are in the New Life Ministry at Shepherd’s Door, children in the Family Life Center experience a Biblically-based, preschool-like program that helps promote healthy development. The Family Life Center also has a focus on school readiness and after-school care for elementary-aged children.

“What you pour out on my kids is Jesus–that unconditional love,” said Rachelle, one of the mom’s at Shepherd’s Door. “My kids came in here not knowing the name of Jesus. Now they sing praise music, they recite Bible verses, they pray for each other. And even when mom is having a bad day, they pray for me.”

DSC_0204“I think the core of what we do is love children,” said Bethany Stevens, Family Life Assistant. “We are motivated by Christ’s love to bring about healing and restoration in children’s lives and the family unit.”

“Many of these kids have grown up in very unstable and traumatic environments,” said John Roberson, former Family Life Center Elementary Coordinator. “So whether that’s abuse or neglect or an unstable family situation, a lot of them have never had the opportunity to learn healthy social and emotional skills and they haven’t always had healthy adults to learn those things from. A lot of what they have learned are coping skills and survival skills.”

John continued, healing “really starts with building safe relationships with the kids.”

Many of the kids have been hurt by people they love. So trusting adults, even their own mothers, takes time and many loving interactions with staff and volunteers. The children are especially receptive to healthy men who come in and volunteer and spend time with them.

“They are able to open up and trust again with the Family Life Center staff,” said Rachelle.

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Now that her kids have experienced a changed lifestyle as a family, one free from addiction, the kids have relinquished some of their need for control now that they know mom will be there for them. “It’s so fun to watch my kids be kids.”

Breaking the cycle of addiction and building healthy children can happen. Thank you for helping us heal the hearts of these kids.

Would you consider giving financially towards the work of Portland Rescue Mission in the lives of children?

We also recognize the invaluable impact that volunteers and other staff have on our kids.

Do you love birding or play the kazoo? Do you know how to weave? Whatever you are passionate about, we love volunteers! Come be a special guest and share your hobby with our kids. If you find yourself interested, find out more on how you can volunteer with Portland Rescue Mission.