February 11, 2020

The opportunity to collect bedding for a non-profit organization called “ReMerge” was recently presented to the St. Luke’s Mom Core group.  I happened to miss our study the week it was presented, but happily donated to this charity the following week. There are so many amazing charities out there and this is one I honestly didn’t know much about.  Someone in our group briefly explained that they help moms who are facing incarceration get back on their feet.

So, we loaded up two large SUVs full of new bedding for these women and headed out to donate, as well as tour their new facility.

As we pulled up, we were all in awe.  This modern building was absolutely beautiful from the outside.  While walking to the front door, you can’t help but notice these powerful words displayed like artwork in their garden: Faith, Courage, Hope, Community, Love, Gratitude, Resilience, Purpose, Recovery, and Integrity.  We were greeted by Hillary Burkholder, the Director of Community Engagement.  She was amazing!  She gave us an incredibly detailed tour.  The inside is as beautiful and thoughtful as the outside.  To design this building inside and out, the staff wanted the mom’s opinions about what would be inspiring to them.  Big windows to show sunlight and colorful artwork, with pictures or words of encouragement, became an important part of the design.

We learned that, “ReMerge is a comprehensive female diversion program designed to transform pregnant women and mothers facing incarceration into productive citizens.”  What I thought was a simple process for these women turned out to be a well-organized program.  I hadn’t thought about all the factors and events in these mom’s lives that may have led up to the reasons they’re facing incarceration. The negatives stacked against these moms are truly staggering, but the help they receive is astounding.

ReMerge helps these moms and moms-to-be in so many ways.  Before reuniting them with children or family, they help remove the barriers that prevented them from leading healthy and productive lives in the past.  They provide services which will reduce or permanently remove those barriers.  They offer a variety of basic-needs services including housing, transportation, medical and behavioral health care, domestic violence intervention, counseling, education training, job placement, parenting and family services, legal services, life skills, and so much more!

A recent point from Bob’s sermon stuck out to me on that visit.  He said, “We are called to be the sons and daughters of encouragement.”  As a mom and someone who belongs to an amazing Bible study group, comprised of faith-driven women who want to help others, we were looking for a place to volunteer.  We saw that day that our prayers, our gifts, and our willingness to help was a blessing to other moms in our community.  It was a blessing to encourage others who were working so hard to achieve a better life.  I hope you’ll check out ReMerge, or another wonderful ministry, to see how you can be a good neighbor.  We can truly be a blessing.

Jamie Williamson, Director of Administration, St. Luke’s Edmond Campus