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Monday, June 28, 2021

The Hub Ministry

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Counseling leads the helpless to self-sufficiency

Destiny White was smoking cigarettes when she was just 9 years old.

Before she was 10, White says she was the victim of sexual abuse. “I lived with my Mam-maw and Pap-paw, and my Mammaw’s son would come in my room at night and mess with me while I was asleep.”

At 11, White was smoking marijuana. At 13, she was smoking meth. At 19, she started “shooting up” meth. Now 21, White has already been arrested nine times. She has been to jail eight times.

“I spent my 15th birthday in jail,” she said.

But it was during White’s last jail sentence that she broke down in front of her cellmate. That outpouring of emotion — and a phone number — changed her life.

“I’m crying to her, telling her I don’t want to live like this anymore,” White said. “I need help. Somebody, please help me.”

White’s cellmate gave White the phone number to The Hub — a Shreveport ministry that helps people who have experienced substance abuse, sexual exploitation, sex trafficking, homelessness and poverty.

White called from jail and was accepted into the Hub’s Purchased: Not for Sale program.

“The name comes out of scripture,” said Cassie Hammett, who founded the Hub 14 years ago and is its executive director. “In Corinthians, there is a verse that says, ‘You have been bought with a price. You are no longer for sale.’ The name is stating to everyone we serve that a person created in God’s image is not for sale.”

White had to wait until she finished serving her time behind bars — eight months — before she could become an active participant. Now, her basic needs are met. She attends classes designed to help her grow and learn, and she goes to church and lives in a home that the Hub owns. White calls it her “safe place.”

“It’s amazing to be able to lay down in bed at night and not worry about someone messing with you or someone stealing your things.”

White also takes part in a counseling program designed to determine the cause of someone’s behavioral problem.

“So much of what we do in our culture, especially in America, is treat symptoms,” said Clint Davis, a licensed counselor who is the Hub’s director of recovery. “We put a Band-Aid over bullet holes. It works for a little while, especially if someone is in a safe place for a little while or has a community. But when they go out under stress or under crisis, a lot of times, we fall back to old habits and old hang-ups because we didn’t re-write and reform new neuropathways and new habits and new automatic responses. So, our beliefs shape our thoughts and feelings, which shape our actions. A lot of stuff is geared towards thought, feeling and actions, and changing that.”

White has already changed the way she felt about counselors.

“People were like, ‘You need to watch what you say to them.’ But it’s not like that. It’s really not … (Counseling) just gives me the freedom to be able to speak freely without feeling judged, without fear of rejection, without feeling uncomfortable. It gives me a chance to get to know myself — having a clear and sober mind.”

In addition to Purchased: Not for Sale, The Hub has another program aimed at helping the homeless and people living in poverty. The Lovewell Center—like Purchased: Not for Sale – provides what The Hub calls The Four R’s: Rescue, Relationship, Recovery and Resources.

“I think the most common way that individuals in poverty, homelessness, and exploitation are viewed is through a deficit lens, which is essentially like ‘what don’t they have’ or ‘what have they done that has landed them here’,” Hammett said. “That may be true. They may be lacking in some ways. But what is more the case is that when given the opportunity and given access to the opportunity, they really do want to engage in their lives changing. They really do want to make decisions that lead them to self-sufficiency.”

The Lovewell Center program is not a hand-out. When accepted, a homeless or poverty-stricken person is given the opportunity become “a member.”

“That membership step gives them a sense of belonging,” Hammett said.

The member then can earn credits during the week by doing things like attending classes or helping clean the Hub’s building. He or she can then spend their credits in the Hub’s resource stores. They can buy clothes, food, use a laundromat, or get their hair cut/styled.

“Not only are they a member of something, so they belong,” Hammett explained, “but the model is asking them to participate in not only earning what they need, but in doing that and going to classes and all those things, they’re moving forward out of poverty.”

Destiny White does not consider herself an addict.

“Jesus Christ delivered me from addiction when I was in Bossier Max (Bossier Parish Maximum Security jail) in September 2020,” she said. One week after being accepted into Purchased: Not for Sale, “I told God I’m done. I surrender my life to you. From that moment forward, he has literally transformed me into a brand new person.”

But just because White is a “new person,” that doesn’t mean she isn’t faced with temptation.

“Sometimes I lay down in bed at night and think about shooting up,” she said. “But it’s not the drug usage. I think more about sticking the needle in my arm and seeing the blood come back.”

But that is when she calls on God to give her strength.

“I know in my heart that I don’t want to do that anymore. I know in my mind that I don’t want to do that anymore. Sometimes, I say, ‘I rebuke you, Satan, in the name of Jesus.’ And you can literally feel it in your spirit leave.”

White is in Phase One of her threephased program. She’s not allowed to work until the final phase.

“They want us to worry about ourselves for right now, and worry about healing and actually getting as much as we can out of the recovery process.”

However, White is already thinking about the life she wants to live after graduation.

“I am interested in social work. When I was in foster care, there were a lot of kids whose parents were not coming back for them. I just want to be someone who can show them that, even though I am not your mom, your sister, your aunt or your cousin, there is someone who cares and that will help you and that will be here for you, regardless of what you do or where you go in life.”

To learn more about The Hub, you may visit www.thehubministry.com.

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