Deborah’s Legacy: Helping at-risk Neb. women through Christ’s love
It was her turn to share a joy or concern during the Bible study time. Christmas was coming, and her joy was obvious—she wouldn’t be in jail this year for Christmas.
She was the fifth person in the group of women who had gathered for Bible study that week to support the ministry of Deborah’s Legacy, a faith-based, restoration program for women facing homelessness in North Platte., Neb. As this client of Deborah’s Legacy shared her joy, the other women there could see how small their troubles were in the light of what this young mother had been through in her life, and their stresses seemed to melt away as they rejoiced and celebrated with her.
This is just one of many amazing stories that Deborah’s Legacy co-founders Allison Huebner and Jill Vaughn have of their experience with helping at risk women over the past four years.
The concept of the ministry of Deborah’s Legacy came to Huebner and Vaughn after they had both helped with a day-camp for young girls through their church. It was also an issue close to Allison’s heart since her older sister, Deborah, suffered from mental illness along with alcohol and drug abuse and passed away because of complications of her addiction. The home is named in her honor.
“We felt God was calling us to expand what we did that day. We didn’t know for sure how, but we both knew more was needed,” Huebner said. So the two long-time friends, who are both two stay-at-home farm/ranch wives from Hershey, Neb., decided to think and pray for another six months about what God was putting on their hearts and revisit it then.
Six months came and went and the two still felt God was definitely calling them to support at-risk women in some way, but not sure what that was.
So they began doing their homework. Through many calls and visits, the two canvassed the social services community in and around North Platte, asking what was the greatest need out there. Time and again they heard that more in-home support services for women was needed.
From there, God opened many doors for the two as they established a non-profit, formed a board, found a location and started hammering out a model to use to help the women they would assist to become clean, sober, responsible and eventually independent and to also know deeply how much Christ loves them.
The main goal for the program is to honor Christ and to make Him known, they said. It was the main reason that the two decided to become a non-profit and not affiliate with any governmental programs, even though more financial assistance would have been available to their program had they decided to be an arm of the government.
““In staying true to our mission of being faith-based, we choose not to apply for any government funding,,” Jill said. “It has been more of a challenge financially this way, but God has been faithful. We have a good group of donors and He continues to meet our needs.”
The home supports four women at a time. Each can stay from six months to two years with the program being entirely voluntary, they have no obligation to stay, Vaughn said. Each woman who comes to the home helps Vaughn and Huebner, who each have training and experience in social services, set up an individualized success plan for their stay. Plans include devotional time, house meetings, mandatory classes on a variety of topics, Bible study, and learning a craft. The average length of time for a woman to stay at the home is six months.
The home has a vast volunteer support system, including its own prayer team and a group which gathers at the complex once a week for Bible study. Vaughn and Huebner are thankful for all of the support they get from the community.
Applications are taken by the home, with an average of eight applications being submitted per month. Women come to the home from all over the state, and even a few out of state, to stay. Since opening in 2013, the program has housed 27 women and served several more through outreach services. .
The location of the Legacy office is at 705 N. Poplar in North Platte. Deborah’s Legacy rents the property, which has a house on it, along with an outbuilding that is utilized as a meeting location, and a studio where the women are taught how to make craft items. The work shop has been a new aspect of the home, with a long-term goal of the women being able to create and sell their items for income. Items they have created include denim rugs, making wreaths and paper out of the noxious weed Phragmites, which the women harvest by the Platte River, to cooping with an alpaca farm run by those with autism to weave the alpaca fur into blankets and rugs. (See sidebar article on the items that are being created at Deborah’s Legacy). Another longterm goal is to expand the home with an addition of another small house where women with children can have a private area for visitation time with their kids.
For more information on how to specifically help the home, contact either Huebner at 308-520-1489 or Vaughn at 308-530-3361.