Escaping dark places

Union Gospel Mission in Coeur d'Alene provides hope, recovery for women in crisis

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Jessie Morris and Stephanie Bisaro are turning their lives around at the Union Gospel Mission in Coeur d'Alene at 196 W. Haycraft. Both are expected to graduate from the program next June.

Living life to the fullest is no longer a dream for Jessie Morris and Stephanie Bisaro.

A home, a career, family — are all now within reach for these women after years in a methamphetamine-fueled, chaotic lifestyle that nearly cost them everything.

“I was completely broken,” Bisaro said. “I was a meth addict and I knew I had to make changes or I was going to prison. I want to go to school and become a chemical dependency counselor. I have been there and I think I can help people.”

Hitting rock bottom was the spur to make changes. For Morris, the potential loss of her young son was the ultimate wake-up call for the 39-year-old.

 “I knew I could lose him, and I turned my life over to the Lord,” said Morris, who would like to work for the North Idaho Eye Institute next year. “Even if I lost custody of my son, I knew I wanted to be a different person for him. I wanted to be a role model and I wanted to be in his life.”

The North Idaho women are turning their lives around at the Union Gospel Mission in Coeur d'Alene at 196 W. Haycraft. Both are expected to graduate from the program next June.

“I am so proud of these women,” said JoAnn Zajicek, director of the Union Gospel Mission Center for Women and Children in Coeur d'Alene. The center helps women overcome poverty, addiction and abuse. “Their hearts changed, and then their behaviors changed.”

About 35 women and 25 children from North Idaho are attempting to reboot their lives at the center through an 18-24 month, faith-based program that includes counseling, education and life skills training.

 “Donations are what drive these life-changing miracles,” said Zajicek. “The impact of these programs on the community is incredible. These women are able to recover and help others escape dark places in their lives.”

The Coeur d'Alene center serves as part of a network helping women with every aspect of recovery, collaborating with other local resources such as Heritage Health, ICARE and child welfare services. It provides women and their children with food, shelter and clothing. Residents receive one-on-one and group therapy, plus Bible studies and life skills classes. The center helps women earn their GEDs and receive vocational training.

“I”ve been able to establish a relationship with God,” Morris said. “The Union Gospel Mission has helped me change my attitudes and beliefs. I am learning to be a better person and how to walk through life the right way.”

Since 1951, Union Gospel Mission has been providing food, shelter and spiritual guidance to people in crisis. The nonprofit seeks to address the underlying issues of homelessness and lead individuals toward lasting life change. Union Gospel Mission partners with individuals and organizations across the Inland Northwest to reach the poor with the love and power of the gospel so they may become God-dependent, contributing members of society.

 “I've learned to be a mom again,” Bisaro said. “I want to earn my daughter's trust and be a role model by making the right choices.”

--Written by Marc Stewart, Director of Sponsored Content


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