The story I have shared many times along my journey, involves a special place called, “Susannah’s House.” It means so much to me, not only because I am on the Board of Directors, but because they let me in to help them from the start, before I had any role in the community.
Eager to help those fighting addiction, and the babies, I was thrilled to be invited to a documentary screening at our Health Department. The documentary focused on women, who were pregnant, addicted to drugs, and went through so many extremities, you would think you were watching an HBO special. I remember this was my first appearance as a pageant queen, actually. That same day, I had my head shots done, rushed home to change clothing, and sat as far in the back that I could, because I didn’t want any attention. I honestly didn’t feel right wearing a crown or sash, because it wasn’t about me. Since I was asked to, and told it was okay, I did. That crown and sash, literally led me to a calling unknown. Many came up to meet me, who were community leaders, city council, head of commissions, physicians, etc.; but who really stood out, was a woman, standing off to the side, with two women who asked to take a photo with me. They were the only ones who even asked to take a picture.
They were the women of “Susannah’s House,” a faith-based recovery center for women and their families. We stood and spoke a bit, and immediately I wanted to do something special for them. I didn’t know exactly what I could do, but I knew I wanted to make them feel happy for just that day. All I could really afford for this big group, was a pizza party, so I offered, and they said, “Yes! Please come!”
I planned out what I wanted to do for them, went to visit the mothers, and the sweet children. They just wanted to take pictures, and play. My family came to help me! I learned about the program, saw people smiling and so happy…different than what one would think a rehab facility would look like. This was really a home and a safe haven.
A key memory that stood out to me, was one mother. She sat down beside me, and put her little baby in my arms. She was so tiny, for her age. The mother, told me that she gave birth in prison, and how this place has changed, and saved her life. While many, would look at her, and judge her, I just felt proud of her. She told me, a stranger, one of her biggest failures, and downfalls. She felt comfortable. I just had to come back to do something again.
I branched out, and visited other facilities; everyone in my community was so welcoming and needed help. What could I do? I am not an expert, I am just a volunteer? I volunteer at the hospital, and I come here to visit. I then reflected, and remember how happy these ladies and their children were, just to have me present. I continued to post on my FB page about my journey and these organizations, and people in the community, started donating, volunteering, and some, even showed up with me to perform for events!
My family, and in-laws, even came down from Michigan, because they were so touched by our first visit there. Once you walk through the doors, you become family.
They asked if I could be a guest speaker at their annual, “One Day At A Time Banquet,” and I was floored! I didn’t know what I was even going to say, or if I was worthy enough for that opportunity. I wrote about NAS (Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome), but when I stood up at the podium, I just started speaking from my heart. Eventually, I was asked to be a board member, and it has been one of the biggest honors I have had in my life!
So that is what “Susannah’s House,” is to me. For others, it is a new beginning of their life from addiction. This is a faith-based, recovery center, for women and their families. Women and their children are truly cared for. They can detox, go through therapy, counseling, spiritual healing, be fed, be clothed, children are cared for, they all can be loved, and soon they will be housed. This facility was started because Rebekah, saw the influx of NAS babies, just like me, and she said, “someone has to do something!” She was that someone. She along with Cokesbury Church, started this recovery center, through faith. Faith, is bigger than any land, foundation, or brick laid to build a dream, because it is always the first step! When I look at this woman, and all of the lives saved, and who is involved now, I think about what if she didn’t do this? Where would they be, what about the babies, where would I even be myself. Sometimes, a destiny, is for a legacy of many.
We are working on becoming residential. Environment is a key factor, in a successful recovery. It is not easy. We offer services for free, and even to those with no insurance, while many other facilities, simply can’t. I am proud to be involved with this organization, and I am going to do everything I can in my being, to help them help others. I just wanted to have a platform, to truly help, so I couldn’t give up on competing, because my reality, is facing them afterwards (my family) and the babies in the hospital, who need help. What they are going through, and struggling with financially, to do good, is no where in comparison, to me losing on a stage. They are helped because of the effort we put in together. One day, and a performance on stage, doesn’t match the wealth of joy that helps so many, and saves lives.
I can smile, and be so happy, not just because I earned a crown I worked hard for. This isn’t my crown, it our crown! All of the people who need it for help. I can’t explain it, but I promise you, it works!
Today, I realized it even more so, visiting a spiritual based recovery center, 30 minutes from where I grew up! It is brand new, with women of God, who also all have faith. I came with nothing, but knowledge, experience, and words of encouragement to help guide them. It wasn’t even foreseen. They only knew Mrs. Tennessee International was coming, they knew nothing about my background, as a childhood friend told me to go. I had no clue, they were just beginning. Just like my first day, at the start of this story, in meeting my Susannah’s House family, that crown and sash, led me to them. It is beyond me, or any of us. This plan has begun. I will come back to help them get funding, and be a part of the ground breaking at the “Miriam Detox and Recovery Center,” in North Carolina.
Use your platform for good, and do it with your heart openened, and trust the path. If the path doesn’t work, it is a lesson, good or bad, it is a strengthener, and it makes you appreciate your role, even more! My platform, made my faith and “BELIEF,” even stronger in myself, and God. I hope others watching this will believe too.
To learn more or donate to visit, Susannahshouse.org
To help “Miriam,” please visit themiriam.org