It’s hard to believe that what seems just a few short years ago, my husband, Michael, myself, and our two smallest children were walking door to door asking our community to donate clothes so we could resell them and save money to open a home for women and children in need.
Michael and I had been both been so broken in our pasts. We had struggled with drug addiction for so many years. We were married with children but both of us had never forgotten where we had come from. We had been to programs and prison. We learned the value of life the hard way, but through that suffering we had vision to help others be set free from a life of heartache and pain.
Our plan was to first create a place where the hurting and lost could live as they begin to heal, grow, and take responsibility for their actions. Something unique. Not a rehab. Not a shelter. To break the cycle of being a victim and to stand up for what is right and good. Where faith and hope cultivate victorious thinking and renewing of the mind. A place where we operated as a family and learned to lean on one another. To job train and simulate real life struggles and create opportunities for practicing this new way of being and be awakened to new possibilities. A complete life transformation.
Crossing the Jordan was founded in 2011 and so it all began. Our humble beginnings continued. We told anyone and everyone that would listen in our community about this place we had dreamed of.
We found a store for rent in the toughest part of town and called the owner and asked them to donate the space until we could afford it. The owner said yes! We had absolutely no idea how to run a thrift store so we Googled everything. We kept our day jobs and would put notes on people’s doors, sharing our vision and asking them to “fill a bag and fill a need.” We would hang them from 6am – 9am every Saturday and Sunday morning with our small children in tow.
I will never forget the very first day we started hanging the notes on door knobs. Michael and I, with our 3-year-old daughter, Brooke, and our 6-year-old son, Jake, sat in the work truck praying that people would respond and give. We pulled down the first street, nervous. As we turned the corner, every one of us began to weep and rejoice. Every single home had so many bags out front—the truck was overflowing. We had to keep going back to pick up. I remember the look in my husband’s eyes. It was like all our pain and suffering now meant something. It was worth it all. We continued picking up every weekend, filling our little home up and processing the clothes and storing them in our garage.
We went to the local hardware store, Friedman’s, and asked them to give us credit for some EMT plumbers piping so we could build our own clothing racks. We only had $500 to open the store. Actually, we didn’t know how to run a register, design a store, market, or process anything. But we had heart and the faith to move mountains. We had an entrepreneurial spirit and a love for people. We opened the store in 2 weeks from the date we got the keys. The rest, as they say, is history.
We opened the first store in November of 2011. When the store opened, word spread like wildfire that we were here to help the broken-hearted and love them right where they were at. The original store was nicknamed by the locals, “the light in the darkness.” Women and mothers with their children just wanted to help. Many were homeless and on drugs but felt peace when they were in the store. They felt loved and respected. Within months, these same women pleaded with us to open the home. We were only making $200 per day in the store, had no money saved, and couldn’t even afford to pay ourselves.
Oh but the faith of a believer! We put our plea out to the community and women walked in with enough money to pay for 3 months’ rent on a 6 bedroom home we had found. From the day we opened the first home, we have been full. Every day is a miracle. Hundreds of lives have been touched. Not just by the extraordinary souls that have been saved but also by those that have witnessed the transformation of a community.
Anything really is possible. We now have 4 retail locations, 3 large facilities with over 60 residential beds and a 33,000 square foot corporate building and processing center. And now we are going online! Give someone a fish; you feed them for a day. Teach them to fish; you feed them for a lifetime. We are a bunch of misfits, just loving each other.
We fought for a second chance for the items we sell and the people we serve. We are fierce. We are a high-performance company that is fully operated and managed by those same people off the streets and out of prisons that decided to contribute to society instead of taking from it.
This is our story.