FOX 26 News has learned about an interesting organization in Houston ... in an interesting way. Anchor Melissa Wilson was out shopping when she saw a woman selling banana bread and coffee. When Wilson asked more about it, she discovered how a local rehabilitation center relies on the proceeds from this banana bread and coffee to provide free services! Volunteers have received life-changing services from the ministry ... and in return, they work hard through this unique fundraising effort to help pay the bills.
Frank Medders, director of Victory Family Center, explains how the religious organization developed.
"We've been here since 1994, and the program we have is very intense, and is in-house." The people who live at Victory Family Center focus on nothing but healing. They cannot even have an outside job.
"The way we look at it, if you have someone doing wrong for 15 years and in six months, you can take that person and turn them around and teach them how to do right, that's pretty good," says Medders.
Pastor Joe Trevino and his wife, Carmen, opened the doors to the center 17 years ago.
"I saw the need and it was always in my heart to do something. Also, when I was younger, I was involved in drugs and alcohol. We started ministry and felt we needed to start something for the men who had problems with drug addiction and alcoholism," says Pastor Trevino.
The center has expanded its services to helping women.
"We open the doors to anybody! It's a free, Christ-centered faith-based recovery program," explains Medders. At one time, he suffered from an addiction to crack cocaine.
"I came here 14 years ago out of county jail. I was addicted to drugs, addicted to crack cocaine, and I came here as a resident and God changed my life, called me into the ministry. I've been here ever since," says Medders.
Many people plan to just stay here the required six months, but end up sticking around for years to help others. Every five weeks, volunteers at the center hand out 20,000 pamphlets, along with their banana bread and coffee, to spread their message. They have a city- and health-certified bakery, where their goods "come to life."
"We've gone to every town in 200 miles. We have established friendships with all the business owners, and they're always ready to buy more bread," says Medders.
81 men are now getting help at the center, along with 14 women, in separate living quarters.
Many women at the center shared their stories with FOX 26 and admitted they were addicted to drugs and alcohol for years, but are now getting their lives back in order, with thanks to the Victory Family Center.
Betty Heickman is the woman FOX 26 anchor Melissa Wilson first met Heickman was selling banana bread and coffee.
"I enjoy it! It gives us a chance to go out and minister to the people, let them know there is hope and a place they can come that will change their lives. If they'll let the Lord work with them, it's amazing what He can do," exclaims Heickman.
Everyone at Victory Family Center tells FOX 26 they are proud of how far they have come through this recovery program. Now, they are proud to praise God for their success. They recently took their message to the streets of Houston, bearing a cross in an historical walk across town, to raise questions and awareness about what they are doing. They walked seventeen miles, from the center north of downtown Houston all the way to their church, Victory Family Fellowship, in Pasadena.
Bill Brown carried the cross wearing a robe, like Jesus, and others followed him.
"I haven't done that since my early 20s and I didn't carry a wooden cross then," says Brown. Within minutes of their trek across the city, members of the group say their moving drama started changing lives.
"When we got to downtown, there was a man who just broke into tears, and I could feel what he was going through. I felt it. It was the same thing I was feeling in December. I was lost, not knowing where to go, and my motivation and drive for life was gone," says Brown. He is a recovering addict who has been living at the Victory Family Center for four months. He is amazed to see his own life transforming for the better.
"I've found such a remarkable sense of peace over the past few months, since He (God) really began working in my life," says Brown.
"I just want to show everybody around here what Jesus has done for me!"
Brown says his addictions tore up relationships with his family, but he plans on a victory. He is putting the pieces of life back together, one step at a time. Brown's most important goal is to restore his relationship with his daughter. His other goal is to share his new found love of the church.
On the Web:
Victory Family Center --http://www.victoryfamilycenter.org/