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Published: May 21, 2024

A Day in the Life of a Lovelady

by Kristien, current program participant, in her own words

On any given day, The Lovelady Center is a hive of activity with Lovelady clients, staff, and volunteers all moving and working towards the same cause- the best life for each and every woman who enters through its doors. What it takes to get any single client to that place differs, sometimes vastly, from woman to woman. One of the most amazing features of the Lovelady Center is that it encompasses so many of the areas that each woman may need as a client in order to get them moving towards their best life. The services offered by TLC vary greatly and within that wide array, each client can find the help needed to begin cleaning up the wreckage of the past and moving into a brighter place where “strength and dignity are her clothing and she laughs without fear of the future.” (Proverbs 31:25)

front entrance at The Lovelady Center with stairs and railings and an American flag flying
Front entrance

As a client of the Lovelady Center myself, I sit in the crowded common area one day pondering all this with amazement. I glance at the Loveladies in the room, and those coming and going, and I wonder what each of their stories is. What brought them here? How is the Lovelady Center working with them individually? What kind of help are they receiving from the Lovelady Center? I notice that the common area is becoming a bit more crowded.  A group of mothers, both new and expecting, have sat down and are beginning to go through donated bags of baby girl clothing, divvying it up amongst themselves. Between reactions to the adorable dresses with white ruffles and pink bows and onesies covered in brightly hued patterns, they discuss the details of their situations. The reasons that they are here and the needs they have vary greatly. I sidle up to the ladies and I ask if I may join them. The answer is yes, so I sit and listen closely.

visitation area at The Lovelady Center with couches and chairs and tables, plush and inviting
Visitation and Common Area on 2nd Floor

An expectant mother, Amanda, tells us that she is here because she had nowhere else to go when the father of her child went to prison for murder.  She came here addicted to meth, homeless, and hungry.  Now, here at Lovelady she gratefully takes advantage of all of the classes and counseling services offered to help her get off and stay off drugs, while enjoying the comfort of her new home and three square meals a day. She shares with us that she is an avid reader and is so thankful to have access to the Lovelady Library right in the building.  She is utilizing all of the time she has before her baby comes. She is reading a book a day!

A sign that hangs in the visitation and common area of The Lovelady Center that reads: I want to be like a caterpillar. Eat a lot, sleep for a while, wake up beautiful.
Visitation and Common Area on the 2nd Floor

Latasha, another mother in the group, holds a beautiful newborn infant. Latasha came to the Lovelady Center when she was still pregnant because her and her unborn child’s lives were at risk.  She needed to get away from her abusive husband. She has now given birth and says she feels safe and comfortable here. She views the Lovelady Center as a veritable fortress of protection due to the security and safety protocols in place for situations like hers.  Her husband’s attempts at determining if she is in this place are thwarted at every turn, even with him coming here and demanding to see her and his child. The legal department has helped file the necessary court orders to further protect her from his violent and abusive nature. This young mother was also introduced to a Psalm of protection by Father William, one of the members of the counseling team.  She now claims Psalm 91:1-2 over herself and her child day and night, “Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, ’He is my Refuge and my Fortress, my God in whom I trust.’”

The next member of this group of Loveladies, a young woman named Michelle, was ordered here by DHR because she tested positive for fentanyl at a doctor’s visit at five months pregnant. She entered the program, staying clean for the remainder of her pregnancy and the baby was born without complications. With the help of her client representative advocating for her with DHR, she will be able to keep her baby with her at The Lovelady Center and, after graduating, bring the child home with her. Right now in her program, she is taking full advantage of the parenting classes, as well as addiction combating classes such as Relapse Prevention.    

Last in this lovely little group of Loveladies is Jennifer, who is donating some of her nine-month-old daughter’s smaller clothing to the other ladies in the group. Jennifer is the mother of four children, all of whom were taken away from her by DHR before coming to the Lovelady Center and all of whom she has now gotten back because she is at the Center and complying with all components of the Lovelady program. Jennifer acknowledges that having children is demanding. Having four children, one of whom is a special needs child with autism, is monumentally demanding but Loveladies are blessed to have so much help in meeting the challenges of motherhood. Jennifer is able to access all her needs for schooling and day care right here from the Center and its Christ-centered initiatives. Her youngest child, a precious nine-month-old girl, and her precocious little three-year-old boy are in KidZone Daycare, right here in the Lovelady Center this morning. 

a young boy amongst a group of children in our kid zone daycare area of The Lovelady Center
KidZone Daycare located in The Lovelady Center

Jennifer excuses herself from the group and says she is going to get coffee before she heads into work for her job-readiness training in housekeeping. She asks if anyone else would like to join and I say yes, I’m in! 

While we walk, I ask about her older children. They both attend Miracle Academy, a private Christian school which provides quality education to a diverse community of students, including those with special needs. Jennifer speaks highly of the school and what they are doing for her special needs child.  

Entering the coffee shop, we continue our conversation as we wait in line.  She mentions what a blessing it is that the Lovelady Center cares for the children’s health and well-being by transporting her and the children to any and all doctor’s appointments, keeping track of and dispensing the oldest child’s ADHD medication, and tending to those minor injuries all children sustain just from being children. In addition, she briefly tells me about the dental screening afforded by the Lovelady Center and UAB School of Dentistry last weekend. All of her children were screened for cavities, and the older children, each having one cavity, were given referrals to dentists who take Medicaid or give low-cost or free services.  Jennifer tells me that she knows that TLC is moving towards a dental program for kids, but for now, the referrals will work great.

Overhearing our conversation, a Lovelady client named Heather interjects, excitedly talking about TLC’s dental program and what they have done for her. I knew that the Lovelady Center had a dental program but I, as of yet, have not taken advantage of it. I am very interested in finding out more about the program, so I ask Heather if she would tell me more.  She says she would be glad to.

a coffee shop located inside The Lovelady Center
Hebrews Holy Brews Coffee Shop inside The Lovelady Center

Jessica pays for her coffee and we say our goodbyes. As Heather and I pay and wait for our drinks, she smiles brightly and begins telling me the story of what the Lovelady Center has done for her. First, she tells me briefly about her dependency on pain medication which led to heroin addiction. Heroin, she says, is horrible for a person’s teeth. When she came here she thought that her mouth would never be well again and she was extremely self-conscious of the many missing teeth. She is a hair-stylist by trade and spends a lot of time talking with her clients, so this was a source of much consternation for her.

Our drinks are ready at this point so we grab them and sit down at a table. She is chipper as she tells me about Jael, the graduate who obtained dentistry degrees and runs the dental program. Jael helped her set up her dental plan and was there to guide her through the steps taken to restore her smile. She needed a lot of cavities filled and many restorative extractions. After that work was done, she was able to get partial dentures to complete her smile. She now gets regular cleanings and has taken the classes that are offered by the dental program in oral healthcare and nutrition. Her mention of cleaning reminds me that I am due for one so I make a mental note. At this time, Heather excuses herself happily for her job-readiness in Lovelady’s full-service salon.

Left with my thoughts again, I decide to take a walk to the dental office and make an appointment for a cleaning. I am also looking forward to meeting Jael, who Heather says is super sweet and very kind.

I walk down the stairs and begin passing the stage area but something grabs my attention. My eyes are drawn to a splash of color in the form of a basket of blooms; yellow and red sunflowers, purple zinnias, and orange lilies. I watch as a young woman takes the flowers, snips and cuts them and arranges them beautifully in vases. I stop and ask the young woman, whose name I learn is Tawanna, where these gorgeous flowers are from. She answers “The rooftop garden!” I ask her more about this and I learn that the Lovelady Center has a garden and she and a few other women maintain it for their job-readiness. They grow vegetables, herbs and flowers. I thank her for the information and tell her it was nice to meet her.  I also tell her that I will make it a point to get up there and I get on my way.

At the dental office, I meet Jael, who is just as sweet and kind as I was told and I make my appointment for a cleaning.  Jael lets me know that they also do screenings for oral cancer so I set one of those up too.  I thank Jael for her help and time and I take my leave.  

Feeling healthy and remembering a promise I made to Melinda’s daughter Maddie, who runs the Lovelady Fitness Center, to get down there and make a health plan. I head to the gym. Upon entering, I am greeted by a Lovelady client, Christine.  She offers to give me a tour of the fitness center.

 As I understand it, the gym is a new addition to The Lovelady Center and I’m impressed by the modern equipment and amenities.  I notice a simple phrase up on the wall, “Restoring Health.” It makes me think about how God has created us trichotomous (spirit, soul, and body) in nature and in order to be restored wholly, we must take care of the temple of God’s Spirit within us.  I am grateful to be in a place where that temple is a priority as well the spirit and mind that it houses. I’ve begun to make better choices in my life and getting healthier physically is important to me now. Christine and I get to work creating my individualized health plan and workout schedule. I make a commitment to keep to it and Christine encourages me by offering to help keep me accountable. I take that offer gladly and can see a much needed friendship already forming with her. We say our see you laters to each other and I head out to the rooftop garden.

On my way I pass by transportation.  It is a high traffic area with people coming and going like bees in a hive. I watch for a minute as the supervisor hands out keys and directs the activity. Vans of women heading to 3 different appointment zones, 2 thrifts stores, and an out of town court visit. Speaking of court visits, a client bursts through the doors, papers in hand, exuberantly telling anyone and everyone that with the help of the Lovelady legal department and a letter from her client rep, her charges have been dismissed and she is a completely free woman. Everyone in the transportation area claps and offers their congratulations.  This brings a palpable air of hope to the atmosphere, especially felt by those heading to court visits.  

Feeling even more inspired now, I head to the rooftop to check out the garden.  I walk through the doors leading to the open air and I am greeted with vivid colors, gold, magenta, lavender and of course, lush green.  There is an earthy smell underlying that of fresh flowers and green plants.  Elizabeth Barett Browning’s Sonnets from the Portuguese 44 comes to mind, “Beloved, thou hast brought me many flowers, plucked in the garden, all summer through,” and I am reminded that no matter what I’ve done or been through in my past, I am the Beloved of Christ and I am as beautiful to Him as this garden. Song of Solomon 2:2, “Like a lily among thorns is my darling among young women.”

I walk and find a shade tree to sit under in order to protect my skin, skin which sustained 3rd degree burns over most of my torso and face. I reflect on the fire which was the catalyst for so much change in my life, including coming to the Lovelady Center.  The details of the fire escape me, my memory suppressed as a response to the trauma. There is no doubt, however, that alcohol, cocaine and a dangerous ex-boyfriend were somehow involved, so I have come to terms with the fact that my addiction which I’ve struggled with for almost 30 years and the roots of such must be dealt with entirely. I know that the love of Jesus Christ is enough to set me free completely and I know that I’m at the right place to experience that love in an immense way.  I’m so grateful for this fact and also for the more pragmatic challenges that Lovelady is helping me with…a DHR case to get my three incredible teenagers back in my care, legal issues such as a DUI, transportation and after-care for medical treatments and surgeries due to the fire. 

Just as I start thinking about how much there is to do and begin to feel overwhelmed by all of it, a cool breeze blows and a bee lands on some flowering sage near me and I am reminded of the hive that is the Lovelady. I am not in this alone. I have so many people helping me, from my client representative who advocates for me to the donors who make it possible for me to be here.  Most importantly, I have Jehovah Sabaoth, Lord of Heaven’s Armies, surrounding me.  It is a blessing to be alive and it is a blessing to be here at the Lovelady.  I sit and soak in the loveliness of the garden and breathe in the beauty of life itself, and it is gratitude that overwhelms me, not the details. I can rest in the knowledge that if I sit in obedience to God and allow the Lovelady to do its work as I do mine, like bees in a hive, the details are all taken care of. 

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The Lovelady Center
7916 2nd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35206
Main: (205) 833-7410
Fax: (205) 833-9997
Lovelady Thrift - Irondale
7720 Ludington Lane
Irondale, AL 35210
Call to schedule a pick-up: (205) 951-9230
Lovelady Thrift - Clay
2402 Old Springville Road Birmingham, AL 35215
Call to schedule a pick-up:
(205) 951-9230
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