Monday, January 11, 2016

Mentor Spotlight - Ellen Kelly

January is National Mentoring Month and we are so thankful for ALL of our faithful mentor volunteers who are the hands and feet of Jesus to our clients every day. We are so happy to spotlight one mentor in particular, Ellen, who has just been volunteering for about 6 months, but as you'll see has become one of our most faithful volunteers and has poured her life into the lives of our clients! Read below for her motivating and encouraging words to anyone looking to volunteer as a mentor.

How long have you been a mentor to our clients?

I began volunteering in the clothing room for Hope in June of 2015, and was assigned my first mentoring client shortly thereafter.  Thus, I am a new mentor at Hope. 

What keeps you coming back to Hope Clinic?

Prior to moving to Nashville, I was blessed to have the opportunity to mentor women, men, and families at a pregnancy care center in Indiana.  It was a true experience of "giving" - even more so of others giving to me - staff, fellow volunteers, and especially clients, than of me giving to them. When any of us reach out from a place of vulnerability and find a listening ear and joyful heart, hope and the ability to see all things in a new light follow. Hope Clinic is thus, aptly named, and truly a place of caring, joy, and hope!  Having the opportunity to be a part of a ministry that recognizes, values, and supports the dignity and worth of every beloved child of God, unconditionally, and helps each to see a future full of hope, has been an abundant blessing.  That is what keeps me coming back to Hope Clinic! 

What would you say to someone who is considering being a mentor to our clients?

Be not afraid!  Often, we associate the word "mentor" with prerequisite experiences or skills qualifying one to participate.  For someone to mentor at Hope Clinic, what is needed is an open heart, a listening ear, and a genuine love for each person God puts in your path.  Mentoring at Hope  entails walking alongside those who are in life circumstances that, for a time, are hard to put in perspective. Haven't we all been there, for one reason or another?  As a mentor, you have the privilege of listening, reflecting back, giving information, suggesting resources, and walking alongside your clients as they discern their own way forward.  You are not alone!  The staff and other volunteers at Hope are always there to pray, listen, offer suggestions, and support you in your mentoring.  As a friend often tells me, "We are not qualified; we are called."  If you think God might be calling you to mentor at Hope Clinic, come and check it out!  The Hope Clinic staff will answer your questions, guide your training, and be there for you every step of the way, as will Our Lord.

What have you learned about yourself through mentoring?

Perhaps it is said quite often; however, I think it is definitely true that "We are all in this together" - and how much lighter the load and wonderful the journey, when we take it up and carry it side-by-side!  Mentoring has helped me to see the beloved child of God in every person -- including myself, and to trust Him to do His work in all of us -- the clients, staff, and volunteers at Hope, and all those whose lives we touch and share.  

Ellen and her daughter

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Staff Goals for 2016

The holidays and vacation are over. School is starting again. The Christmas tree really needs to come down (at least at my house – please tell me I’m not the only one.) On this first work week of the new year, we’re pretty optimistic about 2016, but instead of making New Year’s Resolutions, which have about a 99.9% chance of failing, our staff decided to make some 2016 goals. Goals are good. Goals sound better than resolutions. :) 
In 2016, here are the achievable goals of the Hope Clinic staff:
Amy - Get my husband through Nursing School!!!
Cindi - To be still with God and know Him. To be still with my family and friends, let them know I value them and love them by listening with all my heart and attention.  
Desirée - I would like to do yoga more…
Elise - To pray more often and more intentionally and to become a better rock climber!
Emmely - To have more intentional family fun time.
Katie - To slow down more. And be kinder to myself.
Kelley –  
  1. Get back into a workout routine 
  2. Read 20 books
  3. Do 4 Bible Studies 
  4. Floss – on my list every single year 
Mallori - To de-clutter, be more organized, and to complete things I start (books, projects, etc).
Renée – To love people more and love well. Frankly if I do that everything else will fall into place.
Sara – To be slower to speak and quicker to listen and learn.
Stasi - My goals for 2016 are to travel to visit family more, embrace imperfection and vulnerability, and invest deeply in my church and community of friends. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Lifting the Shame of Pregnancy Loss and Fertility Issues

Pregnancy Loss, while not uncommon (approximately 20% of pregnancies end in miscarriage and 15-20% end in abortion), is not a topic that many want to discuss. Whether it is a loss due to a miscarriage or an abortion, many struggle with how to respond to the grief that accompanies these difficult events. Women who have experienced a miscarriage often feel like there is an “expiration date” on their grief and that others expect them to “move on” quickly. They frequently report feeling that others do not acknowledge the relationship they had to their unborn child. And while abortion is common and is often talked about as a political issue or a social concern, it is rarely a topic shared through the personal experiences of those who have walked through the difficult process. 

There are other losses we see that are as hard to talk about. Those losses often have to do with a child who is still hoped for. These issues are hard to address, not only in public, but also with friends. It is the loss that comes with a failed fertility procedure, the adoption that ended abruptly, or the inability to conceive naturally. According to the CDC 20% of women experience fertility issues and 7.5 % of men have seen a fertility specialist. Statistics also show that between 20-30% of adoptions are not considered “successful”. These all create a sense of loss and grief that often go unspoken 

 At Hope Clinic, we seek to lift the shame and isolation that come with the experience of a pregnancy loss or difficulty in becoming a parent. While there is no way to take away the loss, our caring counselors and staff do help men and women in processing their feelings about what happened and find ways to cope with their emotions. It may come through finding healthy remembrances of their unborn child, or developing areas of themselves outside of what is going on physically. I often tell clients: although you cannot ever leave this in the past, and you shouldn’t feel that you have to, you can find a way to take this experience forward with you in a way that is helpful and balanced. The greatest help we can give anyone struggling with these difficult situations is to point them to The One who said: “Blessed arethose who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4) And who promised courage and peace in the inevitable troubles of this world. (John 6:33) This is the true Hope that we offer and the foundation of all that we do as we seek to help those who are hurting from the loss of a child or pain of waiting for a child that they don’t yet have.  

Amy Moseley is the Clinical and Outreach Director at Hope Clinic for Women. She oversees the Counseling, Pregnancy, and Prevention Programs and counsels men and women dealing with Pregnancy Loss, Relationships issues, and Postpartum Depression. 

Monday, July 27, 2015

What does it mean to respond with love?

We all want to be loved, valued and affirmed. After that, we may want many different things, but at our core we want love. Unfortunately, for so many of us, we did not see what true sacrificial love looks like in our childhood, so we grabbed onto the counterfeit. It is so clear that the love of the father has such an important role on our sons and daughters. The vast majority of men in prison had no father figure in the home. Many women who are dealing with self-esteem, body image, love addiction, etc. point back to what we flippantly refer to as ‘daddy issues’.

On social media we are reading how people define love. And in many cases it is the counterfeit kind. It is based on emotion and it is fleeting. God’s love for us was set in motion back in Genesis when He provided a way out for us after the sin of Adam and Eve. His love for us was fulfilled with Jesus’ birth, death/sacrifice on the cross, and resurrection. Love is a choice. Love is selfless. Love comes at a cost. Love has boundaries. Abuse of love has consequences. 

We need a lot more authentic love today. Love that listens with soft eyes. Love that allows honest sharing, but allows for healthy disagreement. Love that is displayed far more than it is spoken. This kind of love begins with how we treat our own families. How parents treat their children and how they teach them to treat others, including those in authority, shows them what authentic love means.

Love is not defined nor exemplified on social media. It is done day-to-day out in the real world. It is messy. We are all flawed and we will make mistakes. But we must invest in one another in real and tangible ways if we ever hope to model the authentic love our Father showed us through the gift and sacrifice of His Son. That is the love that will cross the great divide happening all around us. That is the love that really does win.

Hope Clinic for Women has a wonderful training for parents that can take place in a 4-week group session or alone with our male counselor on staff. He also provides excellent couples and family counseling. If you are interested in rediscovering healthy love and healthy relationships for you and your family, please contact us at 321.0005 or

Renée Rizzo, CEO of Hope Clinic for Women

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Why Hope Clinic is for MEN, too

I truly believe everything starts with the family. If we could all grow up in healthy, functional, happy families, a lot of the world’s problems would be solved. That family can take a lot of different shapes – but unfortunately, it’s pretty rare in today’s society.

A few years ago at Hope Clinic, we started really working with our male clients. Our guys were coming in and just like the ladies, they had a lot of issues like learning to be a parent and struggling to be a responsible and supportive partner. A lot of them were raised in families without fathers, so they never had a role model to teach them what it looks like to be a man. We decided it wasn’t fair to help the women coming in – to build them up and give them all this support to help bring these beautiful babies into the world – and then send them back to a partner, who could never help them build a real home. 
So, I got to work with these guys! We quickly realized what I think we already knew; they had a lot of other issues they were bringing into the relationships. But primarily, they struggled with the same things – job related stress and depression, commitment issues, addiction to pornography, and valuing women for who they are and not what they can give.

For example, I recently worked with a wonderful couple who, on the outside, looked like they had it all. Both were successful, beautiful, charming people, and pillars in the Nashville community. But once their front door closed, they were wrecked. He had a pornography addiction which led to multiple affairs, and she had a lot of self-worth issues. The thing is, they also had three young children, and they wanted to make it work. So, aiming to fix the four pillars of any relationship, we got to work on their PIES (physical, intellectual, emotional and spiritual connection). For months, we discussed trust and communication. We looked at the areas where they had both fallen short in their marriage.

Individually, I worked with him on his addiction to pornography, which is more addictive than any drug, including cocaine and heroin. We had to essentially reshape his expectations and reality on what a healthy sexual relationship looks like. Then, we set up boundaries and gave his wife the control she needed to rebuild faith in their relationship. It took a lot of work and a lot of time, but the good news is they both say their marriage is stronger now than it ever has been. We fixed the fundamental flaws, and now they can focus on rebuilding their marriage and being healthy role models for their kids. 

I’ll tell you what I tell my clients: everything is a choice. You have to wake up every day and decide to be a good person and a good spouse – to love your partner the way they need and want to be loved. It isn’t easy, but at very least, even if you end up separating, you can say you fought the good fight. You really tried. And in the process, you helped make each other better. 

Frankly, I’m tired of hearing about families breaking up. I want people to be happy. It’s what God wants for us – for us to be happy. The best way I know to do that is to have long-lasting relationships with the people you love. Your spouse needs to be as exciting to you the day you die as they were the day you got married. The thing is, that can happen. In fact, I see it happen with our clients every day. That’s what keeps me going – it’s what gives me hope.

- Terry Cheatham, Therapist

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

What I learned from my mom...

We all have "mom sayings" that pop into our head at certain times like, "Eat your vegetables" and "Did you remember to wash behind your ears?" and "If everyone jumped off a cliff, would you too?" Sometimes we would heed her advice, and other times we would pretend we didn't hear her. But there are few lessons that actually stuck with us through the years and were even taught to our own children.

We asked our staff at Hope Clinic to think of the most important thing they learned from their mom and here's what they said:

"Show respect to your elders regardless if they are right or wrong, and anything can be paid off with food!"
Renée Rizzo

"Let go and trust God!" I called her wondering how I was to protect my son from his own crazy antics.  My mother laughed saying I taught her very early on that God was going to have to watch over and protect us.  It was humanly impossible for her to even try to keep my siblings and I safe (we were an adventures group of kids).   I learned to let go and give my son the opportunity to stretch his wing (after explaining he can’t really fly).
Desirée O'Neill

"Always be kind to others, especially those that feel left out."
Cindi Barrett

"How to garden (Connect with nature), How to clean a house spotlessly (Have high standards), and The homemade version of most things is always better (You have the talent and power to do many things yourself)."
Emmely Duncan

"How to serve sacrificially and always be there for people in need."
Stasi Egli

"Mind over matter." She always told me that I could do anything I put my mind to and not to let circumstances or the task/matter at hand overwhelm me.
Mallori Cain

"Selflessness, long suffering, unrelenting faith, confidence in the Lord and self confidence."
Karen Hyden

"Showing kindness and compassion to others."  She has always lived this out in her daily life—acting and speaking in kindness to friends, family, strangers no matter the situation. 
Brandiann Rellinger

"Be patient with women. Some women more than others need time to process. Guys need to be patient, let it breathe, and never leave a fight even it’s really uncomfortable."
Josh Blackburn

"Unconditional love, how to receive it and how to give it."
Marie Gilland

"People Matter Most." I’m not sure if this is something my mother ever said aloud, but it’s something she’s taught me every day simply by the way she lives her life. I’ve spent most of my life watching her serve other people – our family, her friends, the church, and random people she meets on the street (or in elevators or the grocery store or anywhere else!). She is committed to being fully present in the little things – interrupting what she’s doing for a phone call from a friend, making a homemade dinner every night, or sending cards to celebrate everyone’s everything.  She’s equally committed to big things. One of my favorite mom-isms is “You have to show up for the big things” meaning weddings, funerals, celebrations or really anything that matters to the person in question. I’ve seen her cook thousands of meals for people who are hurting and rearrange her schedule a million times just so she can be there in the audience cheering someone on. She brightens everyone’s day and so intentionally makes the people she meets feel valued. To her, everyone matters, and everyone is important. By watching her I’ve learned the most important question you can ask yourself at the end of your day is, “did I love people well today?” because really, in the end, that’s the only thing that matters. 
Angie Stapleton

"If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything at all."
Terry Cheatham

"Be responsible with your money and take care of your belongings."
Jared Larry

"Always be grateful and thankful. Show gratitude. Say please and thank you. Always write thank-you cards!"
Sara Chang

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Safer Campuses. Brighter Futures. Prevent Sexual Violence.

Anyone who has spent time on a college campus recently knows they are much different now than even 10 years ago. Social media has changed everything. Students put their entire lives online. At Belmont, I have the privilege of working with our college athletes. Like all students, they face enormous social pressure to showcase “risky behaviors” through social media. However, if they choose to participate and post such things – especially given their athlete status – they are making decisions with ramifications that could impact the rest of their lives.

Two things recently led us to take up the issue of sexual violence with our student athletes. The first was the highly-publicized recent events at another local university. The second was recent changes in Title IX. We are now required to report any suspicion of harassment or abuse. While this is wonderful in theory, administrators have had many discussions on whether this allows students to feel safe or shuts people down, knowing anything they insinuate must be reported and they may face social backlash.

Around the same time this was implemented, Hope Clinic’s therapist, Terry Cheatham, spoke at my church, and I was introduced to the clinic and their prevention program. Soon after, we welcomed Terry and the clinic’s CEO Renée Rizzo to speak to our athletes. We could not have asked for two more perfect people to lead these trainings. Terry is extremely passionate and educated, and Renée instantly connected with the females given her history as a student athlete.

They divided the students into two groups. With the females, it was important for us to help give them a voice, teach them to protect themselves, and emphasize that if they are a victim, it is not their fault and they should not be ashamed. The females said they were shocked by the statistics Renée shared. It was especially powerful when she split them into groups. One in four women will be assaulted on a college campus, and it hit home that it could be any one of the people in their group – a friend or even themselves.
For the males, they took a different approach by dealing with the over-sexualization of young men and women, learning to be positive bystanders, making healthy choices with alcohol and pornography, and addressing rape culture. We’ve hosted similar seminars with other organizations, but the males said Terry was able to keep their attention and they felt comfortable talking about these sensitive subjects. 

Afterwards, Renée and Terry gave feedback and suggestions for practical improvements directly from the students – places on campus in need of additional lighting, information on the location of campus security cameras, protecting students in parking lots, and more. We’re grateful students had a venue to ask for things they need to feel safe on campus – which is, of course, a top priority for the university.

Since our session, we know students have sought counseling individually. While we offer counseling on campus, not everyone feels comfortable walking through those doors, so we’re glad this provided an alternative for someone to get the help they need in a place where they feel safe and anonymous.

In this day and age, our students constantly face ethical and moral decisions. Unfortunately, risky behaviors have simply become the social norm. We’re grateful to partner with an organization that gives our students the tools and confidence to make healthy, responsible choices in a culture that continually asks them to do the opposite.

- Heather Copeland, Assistant Athletic Director for Compliance, Belmont University