JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Structure is a key to learning to make wise life choices. But that structure must be based in the foundation of the Living Word.
That’s the premise from which Heather Gieck now lives her life and on which her ministry to women like her will be based. The Healing House and New Beginnings Inc. will provide a safe haven for women released from prison or in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction to concentrate on rebuilding their lives.
An alcoholic and addict, Heather was charged in 2003 but placed on probation. But she continued to use drugs and was given 60 days in the Miller County Jail where a fellow prisoner “loved me to the Lord” in November 2005, Heather said.
Though she wanted to change, Gieck struggled with how to do so. Relapsing, she was sent to prison in April 2006. “But peace enveloped me,” she said.
She decided she had to replace bad thoughts and attitudes, so she turned to the Bible. “Every free moment I spent with the Word…. That’s what changed me…. The Word of God is my foundation.”
Released three years later, Gieck did not know how to make right choices. She had grown up in an alcoholic home in Jefferson City and knew that returning to it would not be the best option. With help from the prison chaplain, she found a place at Church Army, a Branson-based recovery home.
After she completed the one-year, 12-step program, she remained with the facility for two more years as a house manager. “It touched my life so profoundly that I wanted to give back,” Heather explained.
Then she felt the Lord nudging her to return to Jefferson City — and he gave her the vision for the Healing House.
Moving in with her mom, who had become a believer 18 years earlier, Heather looked for a place of her own. She had walked by her current house on West McCarty and felt the Lord telling her it would be her home and ministry. A year and a half later, she moved in and then last year, she was able to purchase it.
On May 18, 2015, it will become home and structure for seven women. Heather will nearly be finished with a degree in human services from Columbia College — another “God thing.”
She will retain her early-morning job with a local restaurant and will serve as executive director, case manager and house manager of the ministry.
The Healing House and New Beginnings will concentrate on assisting the women to find jobs. But each afternoon and evening will be devoted to classes — recovery, spirituality and life skills.
“Women…come from backgrounds of neglect and/or abuse,” Heather said. “Knowledge is power.”
She wants to help women learn what she did — how to get through defeatist thoughts and emotions without alcohol or drugs, to deal with emotions and behavioral triggers and to acquire necessary life skills.
During the first year of recovery, most women want to concentrate on their financial needs. While it will deal with finances, the program will be geared more toward helping participants learn to be productive, to change, to learn how to live and to develop a foundation, Heather explained.
“I want to develop a sense of unity, that we are all in this together,” she said.
Gieck has a board of directors for the 501(c)3 not-for-profit and is working on a partnership with the Missouri Recovery Program. To run the facility, she will rely on volunteers — for tasks from administration to mentoring.
“I want a strong structure of volunteers…strong Christians…. I want our foundation on the Living Word,” Heather said.
The ministry also will need financial support. Interested individuals can send gifts to The Healing House and New Beginnings Inc., PO Box 1682, Jefferson City, Mo. 65102-1682. Those who would like to volunteer can contact Heather at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Though she acknowledges that she has worked hard to turn her life around, she said God alone made the change. “God has done everything in my life,” Heather said.
Her desire is that every woman who passes through the ministry would rely on the Lord for the same change.