By Linda Leathers, TND CEO
High school graduations are always a time for special recognition and celebrations, and typically a “what comes next” question is attached. TND recently had the honor to share in a momentous event with Phyllis, a six-year Freedom Recovery Community (FRC) resident and her son Christian. As Phyllis stood before the crowd gathered to celebrate Christian’s graduation, she said, “FRC is a community of women who stuck with me and Christian. It wasn’t easy. At times I wanted to give up. At times, Christian wanted to give up. The community may have wanted to give up, BUT NEVER AT THE SAME TIME. Thank you for sticking and staying with my baby.”
Almost six years ago when Phyllis and Christian arrived, only a very few people believed that this Pearl Cohn graduation celebration would take place. Christian was not happy to live at the FRC. He described his emotions as angry and hurt. He shared that he was depressed the whole first year. He missed his life in Georgia. Times were difficult.
However, no one was giving up on Christian or Phyllis and they had a host of caring people pouring into them. Things began to change when Christian joined the Pearl Cohn football team. At home, he and his mom began to get into a rhythm. I remember those early years when Vanderbilt football players and Freedom Recovery Community summer interns Johnny McCrary, Torrey Agree and Tre Herndon took a special interest in Christian and mentored him. Those friendships continue to this day. Over time, FRC became an oasis for Christian to call home. He had the unwavering love of a mom and 20 other women cheering him on. He had staff, volunteers, teachers and coaches all invested in his future.
Christian, a tall, handsome, linebacker-looking young man, stood before the group and said, pointing to his mom, “I love this woman and want to thank her for all she has done for me. Through this community I have learned to respect women. I am thankful for this place.” About that time, one of the FRC children came running over and jumped into his arms. Christian embraced the child and lovingly held him up in the air. Another child came running awaiting the same treatment. It was an incredibly special moment.
I am so proud of Christian, Phyllis and The Next Door for being a part of God’s story of a FUTURE and a HOPE. Christian is a loving, caring, kind and wonderful mentor to the other children at FRC. He is joining the Navy as the next step in his future. Christian, Thank You in advance for your service to our nation.
On behalf of The Next Door Board and Staff: Well done for your accomplishment as the Freedom Recovery Community’s first high school graduate! We cannot wait to see how the Lord will guide your steps in the future.
Proud Mom and Graduate!
Current and Former TND Staff celebrate with Phyllis and Christian