JASPER — Danniele Geer felt there was no way out. She was in jail, had tried every drug, had no home and “didn’t have nobody.”
But through the work of Champion Recovery Christian Women’s Job Corp in Jasper, Geer is now holding down a job for the first time in 12 years and, more importantly, discovering the transformation only Jesus can bring.
Initially, Geer was mad at God and wanted nothing to do with a faith-based recovery program.
However, after going through Champion Recovery, she got a job at Wendy’s, was promoted to manager and now sees that it is Jesus who sustains her.
“In 15 months, she has been able to put a life back together,” said Alyson Riley, executive director of the Champion Recovery CWJC.
Riley said she feels CWJC is the best faith-based program that gives people life skills and a change.
Champion, which is both an official CWJC site and its own nonprofit, meets weekly at First Baptist Jasper with women from Marion and Sequatchie counties.
In this rural community, drug and alcohol abuse is the root cause of almost every single woman in the jail, Riley said.
While other CWJC programs may focus on skills like typing or English, Champion participants focus on sobriety and behavior modification so they can get jobs available to them in the community.
Every Monday, the women and their mentors meet for three hours. During that time, two classes are held: one on recovery and the other on a variable topic such as boundaries.
“As we change one woman’s life, we pray that that will lead to changing a family, which leads to changing the community,” she said.
In Geer’s case, that transformation is already spreading to her family. After praying for a restored relationship with her two sons, she has been able to visit them for the first time in nine years — while on a paid vacation from her job.
“I do want them back in my life,” she said. “I want to be able to do something so they think better of their mother.”
Geer said she now tries to do everything how Jesus would do it.
“I want to be like how these women here are doing things,” said Geer. “If they can treat people like this, that’s how I want to treat people. I want to be able to help people that have been in the same place that I have been.”
The local church plays a large role in CWJC. Riley tries to make sure every woman is plugged into a church and a small group so that they have a place to learn and people to lean on in the hard times.
She pointed out that the odds of recovery success go up with the more connections women have to mentors or a job.
Local churches also provide the weekly dinner and help stock a hygiene store where the ladies can get free products.
“If churches across our state could be more like these ladies then more women’s lives would be changed,” said Geer.
Because Tennessee Baptists give to the Golden Offering, women’s lives in Marion County and around the state are being impacted through CWJC.
“Our ministry and our mission field is right here,” said Riley. B&R