Miracle Food Network is currently helping improve the facilities at the Jesus Christ Chief Cornerstone Ministry in Ferndale, Washington. We assist the owners, Vinnie and Edith, operationally and financially to ensure that they have the ability to keep helping wonderful people like these.
Vinnie and Edith
A Heart’s Calling
As a member of the Lummi Nation, I began my work career as a commercial fisherman in the Salish Sea as well as served as a Lummi Police Officer and Game Warden. I felt the call of the Lord to become a "fisher of men" twenty-five years ago after I made my life right with God accepting Christ as my savior thanks to my mother's witness to me. I began sharing the Gospel of Good News through my community and for nearly 13 years traveling between Indian Reservations and towns across British Columbia, Alberta, Montana and the Dakotas. Along the way, I met my wife Edith who was serving the homeless through a soup kitchen in Williams Lake British Columbia. Since then, we have been a team focused on serving the under-served wherever God leads us. We began our ministry to homeless at Lummi thanks to some early donor generosity that lead to building five simple cabins from recycled lumber. Those temporary shelters filled within hours, which lead us to build more to serve more. JCCCM-Lummi now serves more than two dozen homeless families on our property, with many others over the years having passed through restored and once again able to care for themselves on their own. Edith and I plan to continue God's call to serve according to His plan for our lives.
I am originally from California. I came here to Washington with a boyfriend, leaving behind a house and my son and all of my family when I was 52 years old. My boyfriend became very abusive and we were using drugs. I first arrived at JCCCM in 2009 when my boyfriend and I found ourselves homeless. We left without being ready to change and years later, after leaving him and trying to end my life, I returned to this safe haven. I believe my faith brought me back here. This time I have found inner peace through my faith and have been happy for the first time in my life. I realized God made me the way I am and I like it. I didn't like myself before but I definitely like myself now. I am a beautiful person, and I make people laugh. I want to live for my son and future grandchildren and for God. I want to become more humble and be a loving grandmother some day. I feel the groups, Edith and Vince lead, have been the most supportive, the residents help each other out of the lousy and grim lives they have come from and are the support system that I needed. It can be hard, but I feel together, with our faith and support, we can do it. Since coming back to JCCCM, I am close to getting my license back after its expiration, and expect to receive housing very soon. This time I feel confident I am ready for the transition and I'm grateful to be close by to the ministry and church here. I am definitely coming back every Saturday for church service, and supporting the community even after I move out. I never felt like I fit in, until I came to JCCCM and found a safe haven and a support system. Being here has only made me stronger. I often notice that Edith and Vinnie are always so busy. The people that come here are lost, they need help, and Edith and Vinnie can only do so much. It would be nice if the property had better facilities, not a port-a-potty or cold shower, I would like that and would think others would benefit.
Acceptance, Love and Forgiveness
When I lost my job in a small town in Eastern Washington I couldn't keep up with my house payment. I was forced to move out. I had no place to live, and the alternative choices were not safe for me to live in because of drugs and alcohol use. Unemployed, I was couch hopping and not being able to get employment in the tiny farming community I lived in. Prior to this, I had experienced 10 deaths in 10 years; I know now I was suffering from severe anxiety issues and PTSD. Among those deaths I had lost my 17 years old son to a head injury. I believed in God and knew he did too and had attended church every Sunday and felt I had peace. I didn't know I had PTSD. With being homeless, my anxiety increased and I finally applied for disability assistance where I met with a psychiatrist. I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and within 5 months they approved me for SSI, which I later learned is a very fast time frame. When I found my way here to Jesus Christ Chief Cornerstone Ministry, I could barely function. My path has taken an entirely different direction since coming here. I have adopted a completely different mindset now. I like it here, and would like to stay here in this safe haven. What makes me feel secure here is Edith and Vinnie. Their dedication to helping their guests is amazing. 24 hour emotional and spiritual support is something that I feel I still need at times in my healing and I have that here. My closeness to my faith is totally different since coming here 2 1/2 years ago. I feel that my anxiety and PTSD has gotten a lot better, I am more at ease and at peace, even joyful at times. A joy that I definitely didn’t feel like I had before. I feel like I was always in a fight or flight mode, never relaxing. With the love of Jesus, the constant love and acceptance I have received here, I have learned what love is and how to walk in forgiveness.
There is Grace Here
I was living in Everett and relapsed on drugs after having sobriety. I have come from a background of domestic violence, alcohol and drug addiction, loss of children, prostitution. Physical, emotional and sexual abuse is all I have ever known. I had wanted to be a better example for the younger people in my life, and wanted to have sobriety. In the past, I was living a double life. Involved in my church and fundraisers by day and working in the nightclub scene at night. I was sick of that double-life. I had had enough and threw it all up in the air. I went to Oregon for a month to spend time with nature and myself. I came to Bellingham and was homeless living in my car in the Wal-Mart parking lot, when I came across someone that introduced me to this place. I have been here for almost a year now and have learned a lot about myself, with goal setting, structure, and boundaries. The Women’s group has been so helpful for me, and gives me a chance to talk and creates a support system. No matter how broken or damaged, Edith and Vinnie help us recover and get back on the right path. No matter what you are coming to the table with, you start from the ground up. I see that everybody gets an opportunity here. Overall, I went from having no boundaries to having boundaries in relationships and with family members. While I have been here I have learned how to adapt to different environments, and that it doesn’t matter what your background is, no one is perfect, and the grace that is here accepts everyone. This place has taught me I have value, and about the joy of living morally. It taught me that I don't have to be bound to the areas of society that I have been surrounded by in my past. I am now sober, I have gotten involved in groups for therapy and behavioral health. I also have been engaged in community outreach. I have been able to maintain employment since I have been here and I am much healthier. I feel that I have healed in mind, body, and soul. I am really getting close to moving out, after talking to my support systems, they feel that there has been an overall change in my life. I want to continue pursuing my career in the Food and Beverage Service Industry. I feel the bible based groups have been most beneficial but I believe more groups that aren’t so bible based, such as group counseling to support people in drug addiction, domestic violence, life skills, relationship skills, and coping skills. It would be great to build a healthy foundation for volunteering, while keeping the Lord in our lives too. I think fun activities without the alcohol and drugs to learn how to live life without being on a substance would be helpful. I also feel having more male and female separate groups and activities, and offer programs about how to treat the opposite sex are important. I would really love to see more skill based classes and counsel that teach people how to adapt from homelessness to self sufficiency in addition to all the support Vinnie and Edith provide everyday. It is a comfort to know that I can come back here for support. I have seen miracles happen to people here. People that have come from the bottom, people that others in society might stereotype and don’t think they can ever make it different. There is more grace here than anywhere I have ever been in my life.
A Walk in the Light
Pam and I met in a shelter. When I met her I quit using drugs. We have been here 5 months. We were sleeping in the car, homeless. I (Charles) got a job in Ferndale, and someone who used to live here referred the two of us to this place and we met Vinnie and Edith. We liked what we heard and decided to stay. I am currently working for a home owner, remodeling, and help out on the property here as well. I am furthering my walk and education in God, staying positive, being more friendly, being a part of this family and uniting with one another. I feel like I have more of a support group. People aren’t just friends, they are family and they help each other. It’s a great place to be and we get church and bible study here. Pam and I feel that this place really encourages support for one another and feels that this has been a place to get closer with our faith. Every morning I read a bible verse with Vinnie and talk about scripture. There is lots of spiritual support here. We will live and die here but its up to Vinnie! It's a good place for anybody that wants to walk in the light that have been in the dark. I was always wondering if we would have a roof over our head or if we would have a meal to eat, but here I don't have to think so much about that. Anybody that’s in a bad situation; financial, spiritual, drug/alcohol related, coming here and just talking (not even living here) is a great way to get support. We can easily relate to the adversity that others have faced around here and it creates a unique environment. Now I get a better, long-lasting high on the Lord than with any other drugs. Employment wise, people would love to jump into job opportunities to work on the property, you know, “get in where you fit in”. With time and proper funding, we would like to see more sanitation and facilities on this property. There isn't a set time limit too live here but I think after one year if you haven't been changing, you should move on and let someone else have a chance to change their lives.
A New Beginning
I (Michael) was living in the dark for a while, but after my mother passed away, I decided to follow God. I came from Tacoma, WA and my kids are grown. I came to Ferndale, WA to get away from some bad memories and met Nickee. My wife and I didn’t like that the friends we living with were doing so many drugs, the situation escalated, I prayed about it. We would drive by this place and I asked what it was, Nickee said she lived there before and told me about it . I felt that God gave me a chance to get back to the light and we came to live here. I love walking with the love that is here with this ministry and community. I feel that this is a safe place here. All the people here want me to succeed, get back on our feet, and find the Lord. We Just got married with in the ministry a month ago. The ability to know that I have someone that loves me is something that makes me happy. Edith and Vinnie have been the most help. If anyone is ever going through a problem, they sit down with them and help people through anything. Nickee and I both are employed at a couple of jobs right now. If jobs were offered on the property, I would love to help and work on the property as well.
I (Nickee) love it here and it’s “definitely life-changing”. I came out of a really bad 25 year marriage with a lot of trauma and heartbreak, and moved out here. Later, I met Michael after I prayed to God and prayed for unconditional love. I was raising her son on my own, and going to school at the time. Michael is the reason that I have been more in tune with God. Marriage was something that we wanted to do, and JCCCM made it possible for us to get married. Everything has changed for me since coming back to the ministry, I am learning how to walk with God, and have ended drug use. While have been here, I am working through all the things that have prevented me from healing. I has been able to empty all the weight I had been carrying for years, and fill that with love and compassion. We work and build on each other’s defects as a team here. Everyone supports each other and gives each other recognition. The independence is something that I appreciate here, as it isn’t taken away. The residents here feel a certain amount of empowerment and support with jobs and getting back on their feet. They have choices here, it’s never demanding. Transportation is our biggest obstacle right now (we have had to turn down jobs because the buses are so restricted here). It would be great to have some exercise equipment here so people can get healthier. This has been heaven for us compared to where were there, and I think that other residents have this feeling too. I have gotten custody of my daughter back since being here and would love to have a children’s park here, so that kids have a safer space. Being able to do group more activities would be very fun. People don’t have a whole lot to do here, more events and classes, like cooking and life skills would be really good.