I have the privilege of serving as the COO at The Next Door (TND). I came to TND with 20+ years of Business Management experience and a lifetime of being active in my church and serving in ministry with my husband. I always attended Sunday School and church every Sunday morning, Church Training and worship again on Sunday evening, Prayer Meeting on Wednesday night, and of course I was in Vacation Bible School every year until I was too old and then I worked in VBS every year. I was a part of each age group’s missions program–Mission Friends, Girls in Action and Acteens. I then led these programs as soon as I outgrew them. However, the only “action” I remember any of our groups doing was visiting the elderly and singing or having birthday parties with them, and collecting needed items and gifts and taking them to the children’s home. In all of my 50 years of “doing church” and being involved in “missions”, for some reason, I never had any interaction or involvement with prison or jail ministries. In fact, I don’t think I had ever even known anyone who’d been arrested. And my only connection to any form of addiction was my dear Uncle Ralph who struggled with alcoholism that ended with suicide. His father, my grandfather, struggled with chronic health issues and addiction to pain medication. Because of that family history I was never tempted to try drugs or alcohol–for fear I couldn’t handle it, and I didn’t associate with anyone who did.
When I first came to The Next Door I was unsure and a little afraid of how I would relate to women who had come straight from prison or who were addicted! I expected to feel intimidated, threatened or afraid. I had no idea how I could relate to the women, and without a clinical background, I was also certain I would say the wrong thing or give a wrong answer and derail their progress!!
Then I started to meet the women who arrived and worked so hard to find their place in MY strange world, where people had regular jobs and cars and money and good health and ID cards and seemingly no problems! Then the strangest thing happened…we talked with each other about our kids, our grandkids, our dogs (our other “family members”), and every day struggles, and we started to see all of the things that made us ALIKE and we gave each other smiles and words of encouragement and learned that we all still desperately need to have and to give the core values of TND to each other every chance we get. Because until we reach our eternal home we are still desperate for hope, wholeness, encouragement, respect, community, and faith.
I love hearing the many stories of healing and hope, and have been so blessed and challenged by the strong, amazing women who come to TND and work with fierce determination to battle the horrible disease of addiction every day.
Sadly, after nine years at TND, probably like most of you, I can no longer say my life, friends, and family are not impacted by addiction. It continues to spread it’s awful tentacles throughout my world, affecting lives of every neighborhood. I am so grateful that TND began several years ago laying the groundwork to help women of every walk of life who need hope for a future of healthy recovery. I am so thankful that I can recommend my friends bring their loved one if they have a private health insurance plan OR Medicaid. We really can be THE NEXT DOOR that any woman walks through to receive compassionate, Christ-centered care and the most excellent clinical and medical services she needs to start her new life!
Ginger Gaines serves as the Chief Operating Officer for The Next Door.