When Marcie Hendrick was young, she dreamed of using her singing voice in radio. However, God had other plans.
And since 2010, she has used her “voice” to help women overcome substance addiction.
As executive director of Women of Hope, she leads the faith-based, nondenominational, in-house rehabilitation program in Medon, Tennessee, a small community a few miles south of Jackson.
The campus contains a chapel, dormitory, gym, workout room, arts and crafts area, classrooms, common kitchen and eating area; an on-site nursery allows the women to keep their baby if they are pregnant when they arrive.
On the 26-acre site, women struggling with drug or alcohol abuse can seek refuge while they recover from addiction and learn how to lead godly lives, restore their families and prosper according to God’s will and plan for them. Some 30 women annually receive care at Women of Hope.
Individuals and area churches help sponsor the work being done, including Englewood Baptist Church in Jackson, Tennessee.
“[Englewood] has been instrumental in helping young women from their church receive Christian care as they recover from addiction,” Hendrick said. “Englewood also sponsors these girls when they are admitted.”
Hendrick knows of what she speaks. Her brother, an ordained minister, became an addict and lost everything.
“I started praying with him and working with him, and he was eventually reinstated to the ministry,” Hendrick said.
Even his old drinking buddies would come to hear him preach, sitting in the back to listen to his testimony of how God delivered him from addiction, she said.
But the idea for a place to help women came when Hendrick’s daughter became an addict.
“My daughter was married, had three children and a good job,” Hendrick said. “She started taking something to help her cope and make it through the day. Soon, she was addicted. After some time, she was divorced. Then she lost custody of her children.”
After spending 30 days in a facility that cost $28,000, she relapsed within two weeks.
“I put my daughter through the same program that our residents in Women of Hope go through,” Hendrick said. “If it worked for my daughter, it could work for other women.
“At this time, I knew God wanted me to help these women in need. I have to be the[ir] voice — before they end up in jail, and someone throws away the key.”
A national problem
The overuse of drugs and alcohol has been a national problem for decades. The U.S. already was struggling with a high overdose epidemic, when COVID-19 made it worse. Overdose deaths rose to a record 93,000 in the midst of the pandemic in 2020, U.S. government reports indicate.
Hendrick said she receives a report at least once a week from someone, who knows someone, who has overdosed.
“Drugs such as opioids and fentanyl are killing people,” she said. “Even prescription drugs, when used improperly, are deadly. Painkillers and hydrocodone are easily available. Statistics are climbing.”
Nearly 85 percent of the women who arrive at Women of Hope are court ordered.
“When they come to us,” Hendrick said, “they’re down to two options: they will be sent to jail or they’ll die from an overdose. When they arrive at this center, they’ve lost everything: jobs, cars and relationships.”
Women of Hope is a one-year program designed with four levels of 12 steps of breaking the cycle of addiction. It includes daily chapel and Sunday worship at Hope Recovery Church on the property. The church is open to everyone, including the community and family members who want to worship.
- Level One includes extensive classroom time, with orientation/prayer, “understanding God,” Celebrate Recovery curriculum and apologetics.
- Level Two allows the resident to further study the Word of God, learn about literature/writing, continue apologetics and become oriented with outside Celebrate Recovery meetings. Also, the resident works in the community, which in turn helps raise funds to operate Women of Hope.
- Level Three helps prepare the resident for the transition back into society. She is involved in more intense Bible study, while continuously working the steps of Celebrate Recovery and learning about public speaking and preparing a resume.
- Level Four provides a trial period to readjust to living in society. The resident must attend weekly church services and Celebrate Recovery meetings. All drug tests must be passed and contact must be maintained with a mentor. Upon successful completion of three months of community living, the resident officially graduates.
In the past 11 years since the program began, 231 women have graduated from Women of Hope, which has a 51 percent success rate, exceeding the average of 18–23 percent.
Women of Hope is a 501c3 nonprofit and receives funding from a grant contract from the State of Tennessee, but because they are a Christian organization, they cannot receive government funding.
A thrift store called The Hope Store sells donated clothing and furniture, and the Hope Café has a reputation for some of the best food in town. “Hope Cakes” are an area favorite and the local joke is, “Hope it don’t make you fat — but it does!”
Residents work at these offsite locations that provide support for the center, also providing employment opportunities for the last three months of the program as the residents re-adjust to society.
Donations and an annual gala add other funding. Local churches and civic groups often invite the women to present programs of Christian music and dance.
After the 12-month program is completed, some women have no place to go and need support from people who care. Hendrick’s next goal is to build tiny houses on the property for those who need housing.
For more information on Women of Hope visit hrcwoh.com.