Necessity of Community
Poverty among us has a far-reaching and a long-lasting impact on the physical and mental health of the women we see in Orange Mound. Vast complications lead to social isolation that is often self-imposed and unfortunately leaves struggling women without a supportive community.
Recently three Orange Mound ladies began orientation classes with Diane, our Work Life Instructor. The several weeks of classes she teaches provide a glimpse of our philosophy, chemistry, and benefits. Employment at My Cup of Tea comes with pay, delicious lunches, fellowship, guest speakers, garden plots, generous gifts, advocates, rides, and abundant freshly steeped world-class tea. We also furnish tools without charge, business guidance, and encouragement to our ladies who want to attempt entrepreneurship within their personal interests and skill sets.
Last week one of the three ladies in training suffered an insulin reaction after class. Several of our employees rushed to her aid with fruit juice and prevented a potential life and death scenario. Diabetes, as well as other chronic health issues, is no stranger to us. Several have successfully lived in the disciplines of managing it for years. We prayed for her, she stayed for lunch and fellowship, and returned the next day for class. While we ministered to her, we learned that diabetes was only part of her physical and mental health needs. The long list included a serious surgery for which she was preparing.
Two of our ladies explained to her with compassion and empathy that a job with us is secondary to her pursuit of healthful choices and a primary care physician’s care. We assured her we would pray and pointed her to the Orange Mound Christ Community Health Clinic. We told her to come back with her doctor’s permission and resume her place in our embrace. She is truly seen by us, and she knows hope and a brighter future with us is in view.
In attending class, she had benefitted from the emotional support, skills-building, and stimulation of genuine friendships that we cultivate daily. She needed the community even more than the pay.
The significance of community cannot be overstated. Single mothers without trusted neighbors and stable family members are missing the vital support to navigate life’s complexities and increase resilience.
When we began our mission, I mistakenly believed that there was a network of knowledge, available assistance, and many comraderies in Orange Mound. But most of the ladies who came to the House for assistance were human silos living in fear behind double-locked doors and boarded windows. We are created for social interaction. That simply is not happening among many women who live in Orange Mound.
However, that is not the case on our corner of Semmes and Carnes. Security and trusted friendship, optimism, and voices resound within. Our ladies share rides, advice, recipes, and burdens. They make plans to be together on the weekends. They celebrate milestones and new babies. They grieve with one another in the illnesses and losses that are common to all. The Lord has designed our community and necessity fits our broken lives together into a body of courageous and valued women. The sum of our caring parts far exceeds what we can do independently. We are walking in His light arm in arm.
We want more women to experience our loving atmosphere and have invited the one who is not able to be hired yet to return soon and be a contributor to the growing impact we have within and without the walls of the House in Orange Mound. “We are changing lives, one cup at a time”, is often said. We are also changing a neighborhood one lovingly resourced woman at a time.