One Word for 2019

by Kate McKinnie, Director of Development of The Next Door

For the past 8-9 years, I have chosen a word of the year.  I begin praying in December for how I want the next year to be different.  I pray for wisdom of what one word of focus could be to help me get there.  This year, my word is INTENTIONAL.

What led me to this word was that I felt like at work in my role as Director of Development, everything I do is with great intention, purpose and strategy to achieve the fundraising goals for The Next Door.  However, outside of work, I don’t live with much intention.  I chose this word for 2019 because I want to be intentional with relationships in my life I want to strengthen, and I want to be intentional with my health, fitness and dietary habits.  There are several other ways in my personal life I need to be more intentional, because I believe when you approach things with intentionality, you are more likely to see change that you want in life.

Because I love this annual exercise of choosing my word of the year, I decided to ask our clients about theirs.  On New Year’s Day, I put up a sign next to the elevators on each residential floor and asked a simple question:  “What one word do you want to guide you and define you in the new year?”   During the entire month of January, as new clients have come into the program, I have enjoyed seeing their responses.  Here is what they wrote:

  • Happy
  • Humble
  • Serene
  • Sober
  • Peaceful
  • Recovery
  • Thankful
  • Strong
  • Productive
  • Sunshine
  • Resilient
  • Amazing, sober mother
  • Real
  • Different
  • Blessed

While I thought, prayed and toyed around with several words that I wanted to guide and define me in 2019, the women in treatment at The Next Door last month most likely came up with theirs in a brief period of time, while waiting for the elevator!   The simplicity of their answers was inspiring.  To merely want peace, serenity, happiness, strength or sobriety as they look at a new year may seem simple to me, but for our clients, this could be a major shift from the life they are living now.

Each day I work in this ministry, I realize that I have MUCH in common with women of The Next Door.  I may not struggle with addiction, trauma or mental illness, but what I do long for – like each woman within our doors – is a new start and moving from weak to strong in some area of our lives.  Whether that’s to be more intentional in my approach to relationships and fitness or women simply wanting to wake up sober and productive each day of 2019, we each seek change.

See, I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. – Isaiah 43:19

I hope each of you is having a wonderful start to your new year.  Remember:  we love to have visitors at The Next Door!  If you feel led to be involved in some way in this life-changing ministry for women and find common ground with these courageous women like I do each day, come see us!  To arrange a visit, please contact me:  kate.mckinnie@thenextdoor.org.

I Love Data!

by Ginger Gaines, Chief Operating Officer of The Next Door

My co-workers, family and a few friends know how much I love a good spreadsheet.  I am by nature very analytical, and I want to have all the facts before making any decision.  Of course, when deciding where to eat dinner this can be infuriating to my husband who would say, “Just pick one!” and then have no angst about the choice.  If there is an unfamiliar option, I would first want to review the menu, other diner’s feedback and their prices, to start.  Are you like that?  I just love putting everything in a spreadsheet, at least mentally, to reveal the obvious best choice!

Well, did you know that January 22-27, 2019 is National Drug and Alcohol Facts Week?  I was recently reviewing much of the research data found on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) website about substance use disorder, alcohol use, suicide rates and so forth.  Even loving data, I quickly became overwhelmed by the magnitude of the growing drug and alcohol addiction impact to communities and families today.

While all the national and state-level data is quite daunting, I am excited about the difference that The Next Door (TND) is making – one life at a time.  I am so grateful to serve at an organization that restores hope! TND exists to empower women for lifetime recovery in an environment of faith and healing.  I can really get excited about the data and feedback gathered through client surveys regarding treatment service experiences at TND.  For example, 1461 clients received treatment services at TND Nashville in 2018 and of those 1461, the overall satisfaction ranged from 91-95% positive!

Let me share just a few of the actual client comments from surveys in 2018:

  • Treatment with genuine care and respect
  • Liked opportunity to engage in service work in the dining room
  • So grateful for all of the staff, they are awesome!
  • The Next Door is an amazing, safe compassionate program
  • This place means the world to the rest of my life.
  • It means so much that the staff try so hard to love us during this crucial time.
  • Admission process was very smooth. Made us feel welcome & loved.  Staff were calm and patient. Quick response when call for treatment.
  • Detox saved my life, it was exactly what I needed.
  • Our group facilitator is wonderful.
  • The Therapist included us in the development of our treatment plan.
  • The Case Manager included us in the development of our discharge plan.
  • The accountability requirements really helped me stay in line and learn more responsibility.

Of course, TND also learns from the constructive feedback from every client. My favorite this year being that Food Services serves too much broccoli!  Seriously, we gather and utilize the feedback of our clients for continuous improvement.  We know that not only does every life matter, but also every life represents a network of more lives finding wholeness and hope for the future.  Though this is difficult data to quantify, in a spreadsheet or not, it brings me great joy!

Grateful to Serve

by Suzanne Lanier, volunteer at The Next Door

Serving is not what we have to do; it’s what we get to do. My daughter and I look forward to Thanksgiving every year, to come to this treasure of time and place – The Next Door.
A few years ago, I volunteered and served lunch every Monday at The Next Door. I remember the looks on the faces of the new clients…a little scared, sometimes a little disheveled, usually a little pale, looking at their new surroundings in this lunchroom. Unsure. Several different times I saw a client, food from the serving line and salad bar stacked all together, mountainous on her plate, just looking at it in awe. Then she ate – every morsel.  So hungry for this delicious and nourishing food.
Who knows what these women have been through? Who knows why they have the lives they have? Not me. But I know they hunger. They hunger for nutritious food. For visibility. For love. For a chance. For a change.
And so, at The Next Door, they are fed. A wise and loving man once said, “You pray for the hungry. Then you feed them. That’s how prayer works.”
Why do my daughter and I come every year to The Next Door to serve a meal on Thanksgiving Day?  Why do we wear goofy turkey hats, play Motown music, laugh, sometimes dance, serve good food, sweep the floor, and wipe the tables?  Because we GET to!  And, although I cannot explain it, I will tell you that we always leave with more joy than we had when we came.

The Next Door’s Homecoming 2018: Hands up for Recovery!

by Ashleigh Rakestraw, Clinical Services Program Manager of The Next Door

On September 19th The Next Door excitedly hosted the first ever TND homecoming event. Staff and alumni from all over middle Tennessee came to celebrate recovery, celebrate each other and celebrate the place that so many of them call “home”. It was an absolute joy to see so many familiar faces!

When I looked around the room at the courageous, empowering women surrounding me I couldn’t help but feel inspired. I saw that women, who at one time believed that they were broken and that they had lost everything, were now mothers, daughters, entrepreneurs, business leaders, lobbyists, homeowners and advocates for recovery.  I looked around and realized that I was surrounded by overcomers. Overcomers who refused to give up, refused to give in and are now refusing to let the disease take even one more life. I watched as woman after woman celebrated their sobriety birthdays by writing their number of years, months or days clean on their hands and calling out their length of sobriety. Cheers soared for the woman who was celebrating 13 years clean, 12 years clean, 10 years clean and so on. I waited to see if the cheers would slow down as sobriety dates ranging from a few months to a few weeks were called out, but it seemed that just the opposite happened. The less sobriety time a woman had, the more the crowd cheered for her. Finally, at the end, staff asked if there was anyone with one day clean at the event. I saw one shy woman, a current client of The Next Door, with tears in her eyes, slowly raise her hand. The next events that took place filled my eyes with tears. The crowd at the event went wild. Cheers filled the room for this individual who had chosen sobriety that day. The women who had 13, 12 and 10 years clean surrounded this client with hugs, high fives and support. I heard the crowd erupt with phrases like, “That’s amazing!” “How inspiring!” “You’ve got this!” “Keep coming back- it’s worth it!” A smile spread across the face of the woman with one day clean as she realized she was not alone- that at one point, every woman in that room had just one day clean. They surrounded her because they knew that every day is a battle with the disease of addiction; and that choosing sobriety- even for one day- is something to be immensely celebrated.

Working in this field, in the middle of the worst opioid epidemic our country has ever seen, you truly begin to see how addiction is just as it’s described in the Alcoholics Anonymous Big Book-  “cunning, baffling, and powerful.” But looking around the room that night I saw immense hope. I realized that with women like the ones in that room, who are leading the charge on the battle against addiction and spreading the message of hope in recovery, we could in fact see a world where not even one more life is taken by this horrible disease. I am proud to share space with such powerful, courageous and bold women who share their journey with The Next Door; and I am humbled that these women call The Next Door “home.” The Next Door is ready to, alongside these women, continue fighting the disease of addiction! What a powerful time to be alive!

That Glow!

by Holly Cammuse, Assistant Director of Nursing of The Next Door

As I waddle around the building the last few weeks of my pregnancy, I have heard this phrase over and over again, “You are just GLOWING, Holly!”  I have assured all parties involved that the “glow” they are imagining is probably just sweat glistening from my newly formed mustache… O the joys of pregnancy hormones!  As we encroach upon temperatures nearing 100, I can’t help but reflect on the ease and simplicity of carrying my first child through the winter months. The other comments such as “There must be more than one in there!”, “You must be due ANNNYY day now!”, and “WOW, you’re carrying low!” make me giggle at the transparency of those women that we serve at The Next Door… transparency that I respect and have learned to love over the course of three years.

As I squeeze onto the elevator (because who wants to take the stairs at 9 months pregnant?!), I bump bellies with another Momma-To-Be, only this Momma is a client of The Next Door. So many things make The Next Door unique, but this is by far my favorite. We serve and embrace ALL women, even those fighting to better a life other than their own.

The Next Door took a leap of faith and began serving pregnant women in the winter of 2016. It was obvious that because we were one of few treatment facilities to accept a woman with child, the services that we provided would be sought out by women all over the state of Tennessee. NICUs were at capacity with children born with Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome, a condition in which a newborn withdraws from drugs it was exposed to while in utero. Why couldn’t The Next Door play a part in ending this vicious cycle?

To date, we have served nearly 100 pregnant women, can you imagine the glow that has radiated from these walls!? Obstetrics certainly wasn’t our specialty, and we proceeded that first year with caution and good faith, putting some restrictions on what risks we were willing to take. All pregnant women using illicit drugs are high-risk, most have experienced many other births, some with poor outcomes, but if we weren’t willing to accept them into treatment, who would? There is such a small window of opportunity to make such a generational impact. It was a no-brainer to our ambitious team.

Although the future still holds many exciting opportunities for pregnant women at The Next Door, we have certainly come a long way in terms of knocking down barriers for this population. We are currently revising our admission requirements to allow pregnant women , even those with little or no prenatal care, to walk through our doors free of stigma and full of hope. We have a Registered Nurse Care Manager who assists these women with finding an obstetric provider and keeping appointments, an OB-GYN that assesses these women once a week, a Licensed Therapist that spends time unraveling fears and instilling lifeskills related to parenthood, and valuable resources like 180 Health Partners that provide a warm hand-off once discharged from The Next Door and through those critical postpartum months.

A dream of mine would be to provide housing for newborns with their mothers upon delivery; however, my view is still pretty sweet, as is, from my desk window. One of the first pregnant clients ever served at The Next Door now resides in our Freedom Recovery Community apartments, just behind our building on 22nd Avenue. What a precious sight to see her sober, successful, and pushing her little miracle in a stroller. Now THAT glow is one that cannot be beat.

Encouragement in Recovery

by Kristy Pomeroy, Community Services Manager of The Next Door

Freedom Recovery Community is a very busy place this summer. We currently have 21 women and 22 children living on property full time and have 12 children who come for visitation. Most of the days are quiet as women are working and children are at day care or day camps. Their evenings are spent in family time outside or playing games, going to groups and much more. My favorite thing about our community is the way this group encourages each other. In order to reach all of the families we have a group text where we send reminders about group schedule, activities and chores on a weekly basis. The women also communicate to each other through the group text. Here are some examples of the recent texts that have been posted:

“Went to a really good 12-step meeting at a church tonight. Going back next Wednesday for anyone who wants to ride along.”

“Thank you for the fresh vegetables from the garden as we are having cucumbers and tomatoes for dinner!”

“Good girl! Change the Stigma!”

“You have some amazing and awesome kids who helped me carry in my groceries. You have no idea how much I needed that today!”

“So what’s next? You heal. You grow. And you help others.”

“Trying Celebrate Recovery tonight…who wants to go?”

“I have never led a meeting, but I am willing (to try) today.”

“I am so grateful for my sisters at FRC.”

The women at FRC are truly living out the scripture to “Encourage one another and build each other up” (Thessalonians 5:11) on a daily basis.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor

by Carrie Fraser, Director of Clinical Support Services of The Next Door

Mark 12: 30-31 “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Step 12:Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”

If you haven’t had the opportunity to see, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor”, the documentary about the life and ministry of Mister Rogers, please go see this movie. I would suggest grabbing some tissue along with your popcorn and snacks. True to his legacy the video clips and interviews with people bring us right to the heart of our feelings. This movie is a reminder of the importance of practicing compassion and kindness. Mister Rogers taught children and adults that it is healthy to talk about your feelings and that no matter what happens in life each and every person is special.

A friend of Mister Rogers said, “Fred was often known to say, ‘When something is mentionable, it is manageable.’ Talking about life’s disappointments and heartaches through with someone you trust is so very important. Finding your voice is essential.”

I think Mister Rogers would be pleased with how The Next Door honors this faith principle of loving your neighbor as yourself. In our residential program our women are assigned to a neighborhood which allows them to build community. When life has taught you that trusting leads to pain and suffering it is difficult to learn to trust. Being a part of a neighborhood helps our women begin to learn how to build community and support which is essential to a healthy recovery program. The women have a chance to share a neighborhood where they start the day with prayer and meditation, watch TV and play games together, rest and work on assignments, and end their day together with a gratitude circle. This is a foundational piece to learning that it’s healthy to share feelings and it’s ok to break away from the guilt and shame of addiction and learn to laugh again.

Our Freedom Recovery Community offers affordable housing for 21 women and their children, but it offers so much more. It offers a chance to build community and support with women who are striving to have healthier lives for themselves and their children. It provides the opportunity for women to build trust and community and pass these principles on to their children. The women can share in their daily struggles and celebrations with one another. They have a safe place for their children to live and play. Mister Rogers had wisdom about the importance of children’s play, “When we treat children’s play as seriously as it deserves, we are helping them feel the joy that’s to be found in the creative spirit. It’s the things we play with and the people who help us play that make a great difference in our lives.” These principles of loving your neighbor and building a safe and healthy community will change the lives of these children and generations to come.

Our weekly Aftercare program is another place where we can witness the power of community and the gift of loving your neighbor. The Next Door offers weekly aftercare where our alumni have the opportunity to give and receive support. Aftercare helps in building relationships within the community and with others on a similar journey. It is the bridge which helps our women keep hold of the things they’ve learned and gained as they embark upon a new way of living and also offer those gifts to the next woman they meet.

Thank you Mister Rogers for teaching generations on how to be good neighbors. Thank you to the staff, volunteers, and women who work hard every day to create a safe and healthy neighborhood at The Next Door. So, go see “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” and maybe take a moment to hum or sing along.

“So let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, we might as well say, Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?”

Useless Information

by Chuck Gaines, TND volunteer

Most of the recipients of The Next Door’s online newsletter will not know who I am.  And I am very comfortable with that because I will not know most of them either.  That seems to be the common denominator in America these days:  pretend to know more than you really do!  Truth be told, I made a New Year’s resolution for 2018 and that was to learn something new every day, even if it is useless so I could keep up with most of America.   Now I have let a few days slide, but I have learned something new most every day and as I anticipated, some of it is useless.

For example, I wanted to know why dogs turn in circles before lying down.  And the only conclusion that satisfied me was they couldn’t turn in squares.  I wanted to know why I couldn’t wear pants without an elastic waist.  The only conclusion I discovered was that elastic waist pants are the greatest invention in the world and I am fortunate enough to have a closet full of this great invention! I am only assuming that I have only scratched the surface of useless information out there to be learned!  But, I have discovered (again) some useful information that I have learned I don’t want to live without.  For instance, taking my wife her first cup of coffee in bed every morning – or almost every morning. Nothing starts out the day like a cup of coffee with an apology (pay attention guys!).  Not that I am in the doghouse a lot, but it never hurts to be proactive!  I like to think this is building up a credit to be used in case of an emergency.  I am always prepared!

But the greatest thing I have learned in 2018 is silence and solitude.  I do not fare well being by myself for prolonged periods of time.  But I needed to practice this spiritual discipline in order to see God.  Now I didn’t think I was missing Him mind you.  Being a pastor for 43 years one could think that pastors have 20/20 vision in the seeing God department!  Nope—not even close!  So the only free time in my schedule is between 3:00-5:30 in the morning!  And the discovery (again) of the greatness of God and His love for His most prized creation has been filling during times of emptiness and fulfilling in times of loneliness.  And that’s what I have learned:  I must be empty and alone to have communion with Him.  And I promise you that in my household, no one is up at this time of the morning!

You may think silence and solitude is a useless bit of information.  Not for me…I have learned that I need Him especially during that time.  I learned that I listen better then!  Well what do you know-that’s another piece of useful information!

Miracles

by Penny Baga, member of First Baptist Church of Goodlettsville and monthly volunteer at TND’s Girls’ Night In

One Saturday per month, I have the pleasure of helping host Girls Night In, which is a fun time of the week for clients of The Next Door to enjoy. Let me start by saying that Miracles happen during every Girls’ Night In! That means God is at work, He is present, He is involved, and He is changing lives of the ladies at The Next Door. I’ll share the story of one sweet, tenderhearted miracle I witnessed recently.

During the devotion time of one Girls’ Night In, I met “Joanie” and “Megan.” Megan was an older woman, and it was obvious that she was full of wisdom. She is someone I’d love to sit down and have a cup of coffee with one day. Megan had a way of making people around her feel comfortable and loved. Joanie, on the other hand, was a younger lady who was curious and a little apprehensive. Joanie pulled me aside after the devotion and asked, “What happens after you die?” I sensed there was more to her question than just basic curiosity. Joanie was grieving. Her father died when she was only ten years old, and she had been struggling with that for many years. The entire time I was answering her question, Megan was right there nudging Jessica in a loving way saying, “See, see, I told you.” After we had finished talking, Joanie hugged me, and then tears of joy and smiles came.

I learned a bit later that Joanie and Megan were roommates. Joanie came to the Next Door not believing in the Lord. Miraculously, God arranged for Joanie and Megan to be roommates. Megan shared truth with Joanie, loved on Joanie, nurtured Joanie and mentored her too. Megan said to Joanie, “Before you leave the Next Door, you’re going to believe in the Lord.”

Guess what? Joanie now believes in the Lord! Every morning, the two roommates wake up and pray together, praise together, and they believe together! When a person changes from not believing in the Lord to relying on Him, seeking Him, and enjoying Him, it’s a miracle! And miracles happen at the Next Door. Joanie believes! Heaven is rejoicing!

I love the way the Lord orchestrated the events in the lives of two fearfully and wonderfully made ladies. God is at work at the Next Door. I believe that one day I’ll get to see Joanie and Megan again. I’ll see them in heaven, and we’ll be with our Savior and eternal family. And we’ll experience the fullness of joy!

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for helping Joanie to overcome her unbelief. Thank you for working a miracle!

Mom Guilt

by Candise Hendricks, Grant Writer for The Next Door

Hello! My name is Candise, and I am The Next Door’s grant writer. I’m blessed to be the mother of two beautiful little girls. Both are under the age of three. Prayers for patience and sleep are appreciated! After both of my daughters were born, many people asked me if I was going to continue to work full-time, and often, when I confirmed that that was my decision, the response was some kind of variation of “Oh, I bet you are going to miss those precious babies!” And IT would hit me.

Mom Guilt.

Yikes. I felt horrible for continuing to work; how can I leave those sweet girls with someone else for hours and hours when I should be the one caring for them?! I would have to remind myself of the discussions I had with my husband. I loved having my own career outside of being a mom; it was and is a part of my identity. I realized that I would feel ashamed about NOT working, too. Mom Guilt can be completely irrational.

While I’ve learned how to handle it better, I still deal with this on a regular basis. Any time I choose to do something for myself, no matter how small or beneficial, I feel a little twinge of unease. Go on a movie date with the hubs? Mom Guilt. Ask my mother-in-law to watch the kids for an hour so that I can work out? Mom Guilt. Take five more minutes of time in the bathroom to just breathe with my eldest screaming at the door? MOM GUILT.

How does this tie back to my job? Because I’m often holed up writing and researching, I don’t get many chances to interact with the women seeking substance abuse treatment at The Next Door. However, one thing I do know from my brief interactions with these ladies (usually on my way back and forth from the coffee machine) is that most are mothers or caretakers in some way. This isn’t surprising for a facility devoted to the care of women. However, with Mother’s Day coming up soon, it hit me that these women must be feeling massive waves of Mom Guilt.

I cannot imagine how much strength it would take to admit that I needed help, to focus entirely on MY disease of addiction, and to commit to take the time AWAY from my children to get the treatment I needed. Even though working toward recovery and getting mentally, physically, and spiritually healthier would be life-changing, getting over this mental barrier of guilt and shame would be overwhelming for me. But the women who are here at The Next Door do it ALL. THE. TIME. There are women here who are being successful at managing their substance addiction and conquering this internal struggle every day!

This year, for Mother’s Day, I’ve challenged myself to completely let go of my meaningless Mom Guilt and accept the idea that sometimes taking care of me IS taking care of my family, as well. And every time I get the urge to feel bad about it, I will send up a prayer for the women receiving life-saving substance abuse treatment at The Next Door, who are facing all sorts of challenges to live better lives for their families and for themselves.

Many Blessings and HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!