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Choosing the right road can make all the difference in a persons life.The court told me I could get up to six years in jail or I could go to long term drug rehab. All my past had finally caught up with me. Someone told me that Ms Debbie would visit me in jail and help me find a rehab. The jail contacted her and she came to the jail to interview me. I really didn't care for anything she had to tell me. She said it would be hard in rehab that it would take 12 to 14 months and it wasn't a get out of jail free card. She told me if I didn't follow the rules they would discharge me and then I would be back in jail serving out my sentence.

I decide I really wanted to change, so Serenity Pointe paid for me to go to Teen Challenge after all my court cases where settled, Ms Debbie was with me the whole time at every court date. I had never had anyone stand by me and tell me life could be better especially a stranger. I asked her one day why do you believe in me, she said because I know God has plan for your life and it is not drugs and men. I remember thinking why does this woman and God even care about me?

She was so right it was very hard to face me, my past and my lies in rehab. Drugs had been a part of me since I was 11, it was what my mom did when she was around, which wasn't often. By 13 she had me selling myself for her drugs and when I didn't want to she would scream at me, do you think you are to good and a few more choice words. So by 20 I turned to men for everything, I thought a man could and would fix my life, turns out I was right but not just any man, only one man and His name is Jesus.

I now have been drug free for two years. I did not go back to where I was from that was one of the first things Ms Debbie told me I would only make it long term if I never came back. She said due to my family still having drug issues that distant would be best for me. I have found true love in my Savior; He feels all the old wholes of pain and disappointments. I have my children back and I am raising them in church. I am not alone I have a church family, a good job and a Savior!!

What a Lord that He would send a total stranger to help me out of the ditch I was in and gave me a friend; she is still my friend to this day. I call her often for I know she didn't just say words, she has shown action in being a light to me, for that I will be forever thankful.

Which Road to Follow

I knew what had to happen...I was relieved, but I was also alone and scared.

Before I came to Serenity Pointe, I had no life - not one to be proud of, anyway. I was married and the mother of four boys. Every day there was arguing, fighting, yelling. Every day was a struggle, trying to be a good mother and wife and dealing with everyday problems. I became a person who had no self-esteem, and began to think I knew nothing and would always be wrong in everything I did. It got worse every day, I even thought the boys would be better off without me.

One morning my husband and I were fighting really bad. I told him he had to leave it had to stop. He did, without any further argument. I was relieved, but I was also alone and scared. I realized that I would not be able to afford our rent, water, power bill, food, or the everyday expenses of having four boys on my CNA salary.

I started looking for a place to live. I put in applications all over Dunlap but heard nothing back. We had to be out of our house in two weeks. To make matter worse, I was three weeks away from having a second round of hand surgery. I would be out of work for several months and workers comp would be just sixty percent of my usual wages. With two weeks left to find a place to live, I was losing hope.

One morning as I was driving around town looking for a place to rent, I saw a townhouse. It was managed by Serenity Pointe, part of the ministry's effort to bring more affordable, decent rental housing to the area. When I called and found out this was a safe place I could afford on my own, I was relieved.

But that did not solve all my problems. I was still in denial about a lot of things. I didn't have God in my life like I should. And even though I had a place to live, I couldn't pay the bills.

In December 2010, I got a disconnect notice from the electric company. When Gerald came by to inspect the townhouse, he saw the notice. He told me that Serenity Pointe could help me with that, too, and told me to call the office.

I went to the office for a meeting with Debbie. She explained how the Hand Up Program works. I signed up to attend life skills classes and volunteer in the thrift store. I received the financial help I needed, but Serenity Pointe came to mean so much more to me and my boys than just help with the light bill.

The people of Serenity Pointe embody the true meaning of having love for one another. They have taught me some of life's hard lessons, and how to be a strong woman in the Lord. I now work for Serenity Pointe in a job that pays better wages than my old job. I don't have to drive over Signal Mountain every day to get to work, either.

I don't know where I would be today if I had not seen that For Rent sign that brought me to Serenity Pointe. I will never be able to say thank you enough for the kind words and support that the people of Serenity Pointe gave to me. I've learned that I am a person and I am loved. I've learned not to be afraid to stand up for myself. I am so thankful that I have my Lord, my savior, with me every day. And now when I have a battle in life, I am much stronger. I have a backbone and have learned how to use it and a sword my Bible to fight any fight.

When You Just Had Enough

At age 51, Charlie decide he must change. He knew he was powerless against the bottle.  For many people, the road to recovery begins with a trip to jail. What makes Charlie's story unique is that he called the law on himself.

Charlie started abusing alcohol fifteen years ago, after he lost his job in the coal mines. It ruined his marriage and alienated his only child, a stepdaughter whom he adored. To make matters worse, his family history of heart disease was becoming his own present nightmare. After 21 surgeries he could no longer work even if his alcoholism would have allowed it.

 He knew he was powerless against the bottle, but he had nowhere to turn for help. With no family in his life, he was surviving on disability income and watching his neighbors waste their own lives on substance abuse. One night in August, desperate and drunk, he called the police, hoping they would arrest him at least there would be no alcohol in jail. The police refused to take him to jail, since there's no law against abusing alcohol at home. Because he called 911 nine times, he got himself arrested for abusing 911.

While Charlie was in jail sobering up, he told a deputy why he had gotten himself arrested. The deputy told him about Serenity Pointe. When Charlie was released the next morning, he came straight to us.

When he first met Debbie, he was distant, cold. He wanted help, but he was wary of us. That changed when we discovered that he and Gerald knew each other from their coalmining days. The two bonded instantly. It was the connection Charlie needed to open up and let us help. Serenity Pointe found Charlie affordable housing that was clean, safe, and free of drugs and alcohol. He started attending our life skills classes. When his energy returned, he joined the volunteer crew renovating Serenity Pointe's new building. Though Charlie had never been a churchgoer, he accepted our invitation to attend our mission services. One night, Charlie responded to the altar call and gave his life to God forever. Charlie made contact with his stepdaughter, to whom he had not spoken in months. He told her about Serenity Pointe and his new life. She was skeptical why would anyone help a total stranger like that? She joined him for a Sunday mission service, and came away convinced of her father's transformation and of our intentions.

Shortly after his daughter's visit, he had a massive heart attack. He was able to return home from the hospital but never recovered. The Lord took him on November 8, just three months after he came into our lives. Serenity Pointe was with him through to the end helping his daughter pay for the funeral.

In the short time he was with us, Charlie became our friend, a part of our family. We grieve for our loss, but we also rejoice for him. God offered Charlie a second chance and Charlie took it. You truly saved his soul, his daughter told us at the funeral home, had God not sent you his way, his story wouldn't have had a happy ending.

Desperate Measures 

The journey of a teenager from domestic violence to a better life.Hello my Name is Brianna. I attend college at TTU in Cookeville, TN where I am studying to be a teacher. If you don't know me personally you would think that I am an average teenager, and that life is at its best. Unfortunately last year while everyone else was having a wonderful summer my life was being turned upside down. I had to say goodbye to my Mom forever! My mother was Kathleen, and a full supporter of Serenity Pointe. She began her journey with Serenity Pointe by seeking help when there was nowhere else to turn. Mrs. Debbie was definitely not my mother's favorite person in the beginning. She was tough, firm, and didn't listen to any excuses. We not only had financial issues, but domestic ones as well.

When I met Mrs. Debbie, I thought "great", just one more person to tell me what to do. My mom started taking classes and learning how to handle things better. Within a short period, the classes helped my mom and I get along better. Mrs. Debbie gave us financial training as well. Before long we had a new, clean, and safe place to live. Mom then began volunteering at Serenity Pointe as a way to say thank you. We fell in love with both the ministry and Mrs. Debbie. In fact, mom started calling Mrs. Debbie her soul sister! Mom grew spiritually so much. She had confidence and believed in herself. Life was so much better for the first time in my life!

Then one day Mrs. Debbie said she needed to go to the eye doctor, and mom said she did too. So they went together. When mom got there she found out that she needed to see a neurology doctor. She then found out that she had a brain tumor. Mrs. Debbie took her to every doctor's appointment, and even took her to the hospital the morning of the surgery. Recovery was supposed to be 4-6 weeks. Instead my mom passed away. I was so sure that I had lost the only person who would make everything okay, but Mrs. Debbie was there through it all. The journey did not stop there. Before mom passed away, she had asked Mrs. Debbie if something went wrong if she would make sure I was placed in a safe environment. She did as she promised mom, and I went to live with my uncle. I am happy there. It is safe, and I am loved. On top of going to school I have a job, and have learned how to be a lot more responsible. I no longer call her Mrs. Debbie. She is my Aunt Debbie now because I know she will always be there for me.

If it was not for Serenity Pointe, I don't know where my life would be right now. Aunt Debbie always tells me it is God who put Serenity Pointe in my path. For that I will always be thankful!

A New Start for

the Future

Sarah was 20 years old when she escaped to a neighbor's house and called the police. She had nowhere to go.

Too often we hear about people who hop from handout to handout without ever seizing the opportunity to change their lives for the better. We say that they are abusing the system.

In Sarah's case, the system failed her. Sarah grew up poor in Virginia with her mother. Her father was not in the picture and her step father miss treated her. The electricity was constantly being cut off because her mother could not afford the bill.

One summer, when she was a twelve, her paternal grandmother begged Sarah's mom to allowed her to have a relationship with her granddaughter. Though the grandmother lived in Tennessee, Sarah's mom thought it was only fair that Sarah get to know that side of the family. So she let Sarah go for a visit. After two weeks, Sarah called her mother to ask if she could stay remaining summer. She was having such a wonderful time. Her mother agreed.

At the end of the summer, Sarah's mom called the grandmother to say that she would be there in two days to pick Sarah up and bring her home. But when Sarah's mom arrived, she found the grandmother's house deserted. No sign of Sarah.

Sarah's mother slept in her car for three days while she looked for Sarah with little help from the police. When she returned to Virginia, she called the police daily. Months later, she got a call from the child welfare agency in Tennessee. They had Sarah.

The state had gotten involved after Sarah had gotten into a fight with her grandmother and shoved her. The grandmother called the police and Sarah ended up in juvenile court. When it was discovered that Sarah's grandmother did not have custody of Sarah, the state placed her in a foster home. Her grandmother wanted nothing else to do with her.

Sarah was with a foster family. She had a normal life for the first time, and she wasn't poor and afraid. She begged her mom to let her stay - these people would adopt her, she thought. Her mother did what she thought was best for Sarah at the time - she surrendered her parental rights. But the foster family did not adopt Sarah. Instead, she was sent to another couple for adoption, and that's where the nightmare began.

The couple ran their home like a prison. Once out of high school Sarah was not allowed to go out or make phone calls. She was ordered to sit on her bed all day while the couple went to work. She was afraid so she sat there. She had no friends. 

They would sign her up for internet classes get her grant money, but they wouldn't let her on the Internet, even to do her college homework for punishment. They even spanked her still and her 20 years old.

Meanwhile, her mother was trying desperately to find her. She did not know about Sarah's adoptive family, only that she regretted giving up her daughter. But there was nothing she could do. She didn't even know Sarah's new name: Sara

That's when Serenity Pointe intervened. The police called one Friday night about 10:30 and said they had a homeless young lady. We took Sarah into our home and helped her obtain documents and belongings from her adoptive parents. We got her back into college classes actually on campus. Eventually, we were able to locate her real mother in Virginia.

When her mother realized that we had found Sarah, she cried so hard she could not speak. Since she last saw Sarah, she has worked hard to better her own life. She has a steady job and a stable home, step-dad had passed away and she could pay the bills. And now, she has Sarah back.

We talk with Sarah often, she is still in college in VA and has a full time job.

A Mother and Daughter United

Second Chance Stories

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