‘A hope and future’: Jeremiah House celebrates Kelley’s graduation
Vickie Poulson, director of the Jeremiah Recovery House in Green Forest, said volunteers in the recovery ministry often see tragic endings. That makes it all the more special, she said, when they get to celebrate a new future for someone.
The Jeremiah House celebrated the graduation of Victoria Kelley from program Wednesday at Soul Purpose Ministries.
The Jeremiah Recovery House is a Christ-centered sober-living and recovery home for women. Poulson said the home offers a safety net, community, healthcare and job training for women whose lives have been affected by childhood sexual abuse, addiction, prostitution, human trafficking and homelessness.
Kelley said she took part in the house’s two-year program, working on her personal journey to recovery while living in the house with other women who were doing the same.
“I’m feeling nervous about graduating, but I’m excited,” she said.
Kelley said she has an apartment set up to move into and has been working at the Country Rooster Cafe and Antiques for about 18 months.
“I’ve enjoyed it and will keep working there,” she said.
After graduating, she said she will continue attending counseling and meetings like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous to maintain her sobriety.
“I’m relieved to be at this point,” Kelley said. “I learned how to stay clean through this program.”
While she is excited to graduate and become independent, she said she will miss the family she built with the volunteers and the other women living in the house.
“I will miss them bad. I’m used to living with them now,” Kelley said.
Poulson said she and the volunteers with Jeremiah House are proud of Kelley’s work and recovery.
“I’m really excited for her. She’s come a long way,” Poulson said. “She’s been like the poster child for us. She has excelled in this environment.”
She said Kelley was referred to Jeremiah House by the Carroll County Probation Office.
“She’s local, and that’s the heart of Jeremiah House. We want to help the local community, so we were excited to have her with us,” Poulson said. “She’d had a mixture of being in bad relationships and drug abuse.”
She said Kelley expressed an interest in going back to school, so the Jeremiah House registered her with Arkansas Rehabilitation Services (ARS).
“They were a tremendous help with Vicki,” Poulson said. “They were able to get us connected with supportive services that helped with occupational and speech therapy. They connected us with Wolf Wellness Center in Holiday Island. Sheila Wolf and her team worked with Vicki for a while, and they had a really positive impact on her and helped boost her confidence.”
Through those organizations, Poulson said Kelley was able to get the help she needed to become self-sufficient.
“She’s done her part. She was dedicated to her recovery,” Poulson said. “She attends meetings. She goes to counseling. She’s done the hard work.”
Volunteer Jean Helm, who supervises the women as they do volunteer work and community service, said Wednesday was an emotional day for everyone.
“She’s been in the program for two years. She’s like family,” Helm said. “It’s hard to let her go, but at the same time it’s so exciting to know she is so ready. She’s got it.”
She said her late husband, Steve Helm, had performed Kelley’s baptism two years ago.
“He said ‘The one thing I know for sure is she’s got what she’s been searching for, and she will make it,’ ” Helm said. “He’s not here with us any longer, but, if he were, I know he would say ‘I told you so.’ ”
Poulson said Kelley is getting the chance to be with her children again.
“When she sees her children, her face lights up in a priceless way,” she said. “To see them look at her in a different light has been incredible. That’s God at work. That’s why we do this. It’s a big deal to us. Our goal is to help people understand that addiction is not the end.”
Poulson continued, “In this ministry, we’ve seen people overdose and die. We’ve seen people go to prison, and we’ve seen families broken. So when we can celebrate a future like this it’s like the most amazing thing. We’re super proud of Vicki and super excited for her.”
Helm said the women in the Jeremiah House are dedicated to putting the work in for their recovery.
“Everyone is on a schedule. It’s your turn to cook, your turn in the bathroom, your turn to work,” she said. “The schedule is tight, and a lot of people would say ‘I can’t handle it.’ The women are amazing. I’ve told them they are the bravest because they took this part of their life and they are working to change it.”
Helm continued, “[Poulson] and I grew up with addiction in our homes. We saw God rescue our husbands, and that was proof to us that everyone can be free from addiction. When these women meet Christ, that’s when everything changes. It’s building that relationship and knowing Him and knowing that He’s always loved them.”
Poulson said their ministry was inspired by the Bible verse Jeremiah 29:11, which reads “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans for a hope and future.”
“We all came from the same walk and were starved for the love God flooded us with,” said volunteer Tina Lewis. “That’s why these women here are so driven to succeed. They help each other because they’ve been on the back burner, and they know what it’s like. They know God is saying ‘I’m going to see you through this.’ ”
“Vicki is our family,” said Helm. “We’re really proud of here, and we’re going to miss her.”
Poulson said the Jeremiah House will continue to work with Kelley after her graduation, including counseling and helping her find the resources she needs to become more independent.
For more information on the Jeremiah Recovery House, call Poulson at 870-654-4059 or visit JeremiahHouse2911.org.