Miss Brenda and the Loveladies
A Heartwarming True Story of Grace, God, and Gumption
Many thanks to the authors and Blogging for Books for providing me a free copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.
One woman’s brush with prison…
A community of women fighting the odds for survival on the outside….
Meet the Loveladies. Read the inspiring, miraculous ways God brought this life changing ministry into existence. You will laugh and cry at the stories of the courageous women who Miss Brenda took into her home from Tutwiler Prison, and how obedience to God’s calling eventually led to the largest transitional facility of its kind in the country.
If you or I were to finish a prison term at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women in Wetumpka, Alabama today we would have a choice. We could either receive ten dollars and a bus ticket back to whence we came (likely an environment that lends itself to criminal activity) or enter a halfway house that provides us food and shelter for a limited amount of time and nothing more. Within 6 months, 30% of us would be rearrested and 67% of us would be rearrested if the timetable is extended to 3 years. In other words two out of every three of us will be going back to prison after our release.
Miss Brenda sought to change that by creating a wholeway house that centered on Christian guidance, an element missing in the halfway houses offered to current inmates. She came close to prison time herself as a result of charges being filed against her for illegal activity in her accounting business. Miss Brenda’s response to adversity is an inspiration to many as she turned to God and followed his guidance to serve in ministry of the prison population. Her successes are great and the lives she has touched are many. At great personal sacrifice of career, money, family time, and emotional peace she has worked with troubled women and inmates struggling to find a new normal.
The novel follows several of Miss Brenda’s very first loveladies in their search for new meaning after years in prison; many of them repeat offenders. She describes in detail their first days back in civilization and illuminates the great struggles that must be overcome for prisoners to reenter the working world. Poignant examples are women that appear in control and terrifying to many, but in truth are fearful; overwhelmed by the many underwear purchasing options in Walmart and so terrified by the unknown that they dive under tables at restaurants when the waiters bring out fajitas served with fire. Others have never known love or stable relationships. Many are still children at heart unable to complete the simplest of tasks for themselves, such as doing the laundry or making dinner. Miss Brenda has taken the time to learn about the women and their struggles and offer individualized help, prayer, and support.
This is a fantastic novel that reads easily and is enjoyable. The story is uplifting and encouraging, providing encouragement to those looking for inspiration to follow their own God driven pathways and missionary goals. Highly recommended as a book for those who enjoy learning about ordinary people who make amazing changes in the lives of others through His guidance.
About the Author:
Brenda Spahn is founder and executive director of the Lovelady Center, the largest and most successful nonprofit transitional center for women in the country. It serves 450 women and children every day, providing substance abuse counseling, drug rehabilitation, meals, childcare, career counseling, and job opportunities to women working to establish successful lives outside of prison walls. Brenda is married and has four adult children as well as one young child who lives at home.
About the Lovelady Center
(as published on http://loveladycenter.org/)
No other program offers the scope of transitional services The Lovelady Center offers. We are not a shelter that offers a temporary solution to a life-problem. Rather, we are a life-changing program with the goal of providing the tools necessary to overcome barriers to success. No other program offers access to medical services, counseling services, addiction counseling services, life-skills training, parenting classes, job training, job placement, childcare, nutrition, housing, and post-secondary education.
TLC is a 9 to 12 month program designed to restore hope and rebuild lives. Women and their children enter our program for various reasons, all needing help in their lives. By introducing women and children to Christ and offering a multitude of needed services, The Lovelady Center helps women attain a brighter future.
We provide housing and services to approximately 400 women and children daily, including three meals per day, seven days a week. The basic care we supply includes food, clothing, access to medical care, housing, and basic hygiene products.
Our in-house counselors provide substance abuse counseling and drug rehabilitation services, according to specific program guidelines. We provide transportation 24 hours a day, taking women and children to and from work, school, medical appointments, community outreach projects, community events, Celebrate Recovery events, and various church affiliations. TLC offers state-certified childcare at KidZone, a daycare center open to the public. State-certified post-secondary educational courses are also offered. Classes are required for graduation, and through partnerships with Tennessee Temple University, women are offered the chance to gain higher education and job skills. Through our Workforce Development Program, women are trained and assisted in finding sustainable jobs to ensure a bright future.
Our residents come from a variety of places:
Some Loveladys come from a Justice System referral (like Tutwiler Prison or the Birmingham Work Release) and are on parole, probation, or a re-entry/transition program. Circuit Judges throughout Alabama send women to TLC as an alternative sentencing arrangement. Some are referred from Social Service agencies, such as DHR.
Nearly 40% of the Loveladys are self-admitted. This includes women who are homeless, escaping domestic violence, want help with their substance addiction, need an education while getting help with sustaining a single-parent family unit, or simply have nowhere else to turn.
We at Prey Species send prayers for Miss Brenda and the Lovelady Center in support of their mission of love, forgiveness, and grace!