gettin' It back together

Just cuz I'm always building a new life.
Where women build new lives

By Jane Lampman, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
Thu Apr 13, 4:00 AM ET

NASHVILLE, TENN. - When the Rev. Becca Stevens began visiting Nashville jails a decade ago, one visit turned into a high school reunion of sorts: One of her former classmates was the police officer at the desk that day, and another was a prostitute behind bars.

Struck by the thought that "all of us could be in another's position," Ms. Stevens, an Episcopal priest, pondered what she could do to make a difference.

In 1997, Stevens founded Magdalene, a two-year residential community for women with a criminal history of prostitution and drug abuse. Conceived as a place of sanctuary and recovery - to provide safety, discipline, and an unconditional love that the women have never known - it has apparently worked wonders.

The community has grown from one to four houses, plus a new beauty-products business where a number of the women work. More than 50 women have turned their lives around - to be "clean," hopeful, and productive.
I want this to be a good thing. That means that we're learning.

And a
little phantasizing really does has its efficacy, 'slong 's you're honest about it, eh.
For the first three months, newcomers are in treatment working on recovery from drugs. Medical and dental care, as well as basic education and computer skills, are provided. In-house programs offer a variety of classes given by volunteers, from life skills and parenting to art, dance, Bible study, and 12-step groups.

Religion is not a required element.

"If you are talking to people who have been in hell, they are on a spiritual path you need to be respectful of," Stevens says. "They are more honest than most people and have a lot to teach. You don't want people to think you have a Bible in your hand and something up your sleeve."


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