Story by Lizzie Thomas | Staff Writer, Video by Caroline Waterhouse | Broadcast Reporter
Grace House, a nonprofit, faith-based women’s addiction recovery center, hosted its annual gala “at the Phoenix Ballroom Wednesday night.
Carl Gulley, lead pastor at Antioch, said Grace House was started by Antioch Community Church and is the only free-of-charge women’s recovery center in Central Texas that doesn’t require insurance. Attendees paid for a seat and participated in various silent auctions. Staff spoke and shared videos of several residents’ stories.
“To be able to offer the kind of comprehensive services that are offered in the Grace House, especially free of charge and without requiring insurance — that’s a really big deal,” Gulley said. “So many ladies would like to come to different freedom places, but when they see the price tag, they walk away. What is so powerful about what we get to do is we get to be the ones who pay the price tag so that others can walk in free. For Christ followers, that should mean something.”
Women in need of addiction recovery can come to live in a home with staff who pour into their lives before slowly transitioning back to living independently and healthily, said Courtney McCormick, Grace House executive director.
The theme of the night was “A Seat at the Table,” and the meaning of the phrase came up in the stories of the residents and the addresses to the patrons. McCormick explained the dual message of the evening as a whole.
“The first is that every one of these women who come into Grace House is deserving of a seat at the table — a seat at the table at Grace House, a seat at the table in our community and just a seat at the table in life,” McCormick said. “They’ve overcome so much and they’re not these … life secondary charity cases, they’re humans that are so strong and so deserving of a seat at the table.”
Missy Morris, Grace House program director, shared the Biblical story of the prodigal son, a parable about a son who rebelled and eventually returned to his father starving, expecting to have to become his servant.
“If you can just imagine a father looking at his emaciated child coming down the road, his heart reaching out and saying, ‘My son.’ He welcomed him home, and I believe that’s what God does for the women in Grace House,” Morris said.
Morris described a woman who she will interview who has been hurt by life.
“She’s lost just about everything,” Morris said. “Tomorrow she thinks she’s going to come in and maybe like that prodigal son, come into a program and maybe she’s going to be able to survive because pretty much, she’s dying right now. But what she doesn’t know is that when she comes into the house, she’s going to have a banquet. She’s going to have abundant life, and that’s a whole other scope of reasoning for someone who has only known brokenness.”
Morris said women come into Grace House expecting to leave healthy and stable, but they end up being transformed in the process. McCormick explained the second meaning of the theme.
“The opposite side of [the meaning] is each and every person, especially a believer and follower of Jesus, has a responsibility to take a seat at the table by using the gifts, using the resources that God’s given them to minister to the people around them,” McCormick said.
Dillon Meek, city councilman for District IV, offered a prayer before the meal. He explained why Grace House is important to the city government, and why it’s important for all sorts of members of the community to be involved.
“The city leadership from the top down wants financial security, an educated citizenship and healthy people who are able to thrive and prosper in our community,” Meek said. “For the city to be healthy in the way we need it to be, it takes variety of different people coming to the table and saying, ‘How do we participate in that?’”
Meek said he is thankful that Grace House is meeting a unique need the city has in a holistic way.