By Stacey Carmany
Prayers have been answered for the founders of a hand-painted sign and home decor business that doubles as a ministry for broken women.
Earlier this year, six members of the Dover Campus of NewPointe Community Church set out on a mission to provide friendship and support to area women working to overcome challenges including addiction, depression, chronic illness, or abuse.
To support their efforts, they began painting signs and selling them during community events and online with the goal of raising enough money to secure a location for their ministry to take root.
After securing the necessary funding, the women began their search for a suitable space to house the ministry and its retail operation. “We wanted to have a place that had like that storefront shop where people could purchase items; we wanted to have a big area where we could do paint parties; we wanted the living room environment, and we wanted the roundtable environment where we could do the group studies,” explained Lisa Smith, one of the founders of the ministry.
An article about the ministry and its search for a permanent home appeared in The Budget’s May 16, 2018 edition. Shortly thereafter, the women were approached by Cross Connections Ministry about an opportunity to rent a space in the Wardell Building in Strasburg. “Apparently, the owners of the building saw the article, and they had the building, and they had a ministry out of there as well,” Smith explained. “They had all this extra space, and they had been praying about what to do with the building.”
The women were invited to tour the space, which is located directly behind the Hardee’s restaurant and is also used for Bible studies, a Sunday morning church service and meetings of the Tiger Pals Kids Club on Monday nights. They discovered that the building was a perfect match for their needs. “It’s funny because, as we walked in here, every single thing we had on our list that we wanted [was here],” Smith shared. “Nothing else came close.” In addition to a storefront and large workshop area, the building also came complete with a fully furnished conference room and comfortable lounge area
They accepted the opportunity and picked up the keys. Smith noted the space will be perfect not only for the ministry’s retail sales and paint parties but also for working with women individually and in a group setting. Prior to finding a permanent home for the ministry, the women had taken their work on the road, connecting with women locally through the Tuscarawas County court system.
After many prayers, they ran into Judge Elizabeth Thomakos at Bread Head Bistro and began talking to her about what they could do to help area women caught up in the court system. “We were like, ‘Hey is there something that we can do?’ and we talked about doing a paint party with them,” Smith said.
In June, the group hosted a party for 15 women at the county courthouse, and the response was greater than they could have imagined. “We went in just not knowing where this was going to go, and when we left that party that day, it was incredible what happened in that room,” Smith shared. “You could see that so many seeds were planted well before us. You could see the investment the probation officers had and Judge Thomakos had in the girls in that courtroom.”
During the party, each participant was invited to paint a sign to take home and display but one of the women decided that she wanted to make one for her probation officer instead, according to Smith. “She ended up giving it to her and saying a lot to her and thanking Judge Thomakos and thanking [her] for supporting her and getting her through that,” Smith said. “I think we were all in tears during that.”
“I feel like that says a lot about our community, too, because Judge Thomakos is as passionate about these women as we are,” added Kelli Love. “It takes literally a whole community, and she’s so passionate to get these girls sober and part of society again that the momentum kind of rubs off on each other, and you just want to keep that going for the sake of these girls.”
An open house is also being planned to showcase the new facility and mark the grand opening for the ministry’s retail operation. “During those two days the shop will be open, and anybody can come and tour any part of it, too,” Smith shared. The event will be from 4 to 9 p.m. on Friday, September 7, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, September 8. Regular store hours will be set at a later date.
The ministry is located at 840 Wooster Avenue in Strasburg and can be reached by calling 330-879-8386 or via email at HisWordsISpeak@gmail.com.
This story originally appeared in the August 15, 2018 edition of The Budget. For more news, pick up a copy of this week’s edition available Wednesdays at area retailers. Better yet, subscribe and the news will be delivered to you each week. For more information, call us at 330-852-4634.