In many small towns, there's a roster of individuals who come to mind who have wholeheartedly committed themselves to nurturing and advancing our community.
While JoAnne takes up a spot on my own personal list, it's undeniable that she occupies a position of prominence on the list of these community pillars by many in our town.
When I embarked on my local journalism career in 2016, JoAnne was the first person to extend a helping hand, connecting me with the right individuals when I was terrified of jumping into a career I loved, but knew nothing about.
In December 2021, while I was working at The Douglas Enterprise, JoAnne walked into our office and presented me with a box, expressing that she had been thinking of me during the holiday season. Inside, I discovered a blanket covered with photographs of my son and me, along with a candid image of my father and son riding a horse on our family's farm.
JoAnne selected the photos without realizing that each picture held a special memory and moment in my life. Every image took me back to a moment of growth, or a moment of true happiness.
As I looked at these cherished memories on the blanket, JoAnne took my hand and shared her joy in looking at these photos. She told me that seeing these photos made her proud, and filled with happiness to see how much I had grown and overcome. It was a heartfelt gesture, not tied to any favor or obligation, but simply a reflection of JoAnne's inherent kindness. That is the type of person JoAnne Lewis is.
To this day, that blanket remains my son's favorite and is currently being used as I sit here typing. JoAnne may not have known the amount of happiness her gift brought to my son and me, but I hope she does now.
The realm of drug addiction can easily prompt blame rather than a desire to offer help when the disease doesn't directly impact your life. Over time, the wear and tear of the battle of helping an addict can make you question its worth. Some people give up on that fight.
Not JoAnne Lewis.
Since 2014, JoAnne has made it her life's mission to assist women in overcoming addiction. Through her tireless efforts at StillWaters, she became a beacon of hope, saving countless lives and reuniting fractured families. Earlier this week, JoAnne announced her decision to step away from the outreach program, passing the torch to a new director.
JoAnne announced her departure, sharing the following:
Often, we come to new roads in life. We aren’t sure how we got there, but suddenly here we are, face to face with a new direction. That's been me for the last few months of my life. As I've faced total confusion while trying to figure it out, there's no doubt God has been the chief engineer in the development of new roads that seemed to lead in a new direction.
Just like in my normal day-to-day travel, I’ve often found myself slowing down, speeding up, swerving to miss obstacles on the road or even taking a wrong turn. Perhaps I would have been better off letting God take the wheel from the beginning.
Being ready and paying attention to God's calling for my life is much easier said than done. The things that have been so important or feel so familiar tend to overpower the need for a change in direction. But what has been really neat is opening my heart to see where new roads might lead. Somehow, God uses our journey for His glory. He uses our journey to pave new roads to help grow his Kingdom.
Yes, the last few months have been filled with messages along the roads I've traveled such as yield, slow down, or even stop. The signs have also proclaimed roadblocks ahead, detour and proceed with caution. But, at the end of the journey, through much prayer, knowing that God is in control of the drive helps me navigate my life and his plan for me. Like Joshua 1:9 says, “This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
We just don’t know what God has in store and where we will end up. I've just done my best to trust God on a new road for me to travel. He has made it clear that it's my time to exit Still Waters, allowing others to continue the journey I started in 2014. The work on the grounds of this ministry will not stop, it will not slow down and it will not yield to roadblocks. I know this to be true due to great things already happening through volunteer ministry and elbow grease work from the new management team. For years we have realized the need for new office space and a private space for one-on-one counseling (giving way for much-needed extra resident bed space). Within the last 3 weeks, our plans have started to materialize. Thank you, Richard Baker, for your dedication to God’s call and your willingness to seek charitable donations from generous partners to make this happen.
There is no end to God's work. The drivers may change but the road to progress continues. Over the past nine years
God has shown up and shown out in the lives of women. I was blessed to be chosen to start this journey in 2014. I feel blessed to be able to step back and watch Still Waters continue to grow under new leadership.
Welcome Richard Baker as the shepherd to lead the new management team beside our still waters. The message from God that came through a dream in 2019 has become a clear vision. It will lead to a progressive bright future for women struggling with substance abuse addiction and seeking God’s help on the journey to recovery.
We must never forget that blessings will continue as long as God takes the wheel. Still Waters was purchased as a residential program for women struggling with substance abuse. Community partners supported our efforts through financial contributions, volunteer labor, and lots of prayer. No doubt God’s work will continue. Seeds of Christ will continue to be planted for women who enter the program. With proper leadership, those seeds will bring sprouts of new
hope. That hope will produce an abundant crop of new life for those who choose to follow a new road – God’s road
Mid-October, the journey will continue with our new leadership team. Stay tuned to meet the team!
As for me, Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet and a light unto my path. It shows me the way wherein I should go, both night and day. (Proverbs 6:23).
Thank you, JoAnne, for your immeasurable kindness and your profound impact on our community. The work you have achieved at StillWaters, guiding women on the path of recovery, is a testament to your compassion and strength. Your unwavering commitment has etched a lasting impression on countless lives within our community, a legacy that will forever endure.