Updated: Aug 29, 2019
This month we write to you with heavy hearts. Miranda Hesler was a 27 year old fireball. She was a participant at Rachel’s House two years ago. Just over a month ago she passed away from a drug overdose.
It seems apt that this week we remember her – on August 31st the world acknowledges the grief felt by families and friends who have lost loved ones as a result of drug overdoses. It is International Overdose Awareness Day.
Miranda’s memorial service was a bittersweet time. What I found most encouraging was meeting all of the people who had touched and been touched by her life. One thing that I realized very quickly as people were sharing was that Miranda talked about the people in her life who were in her "tribe." Her foster parents, her 6th grade teacher who took her in as her own daughter, etc. In some ways, it was like a family reunion meeting people you felt like you already knew because she talked about them so much.
The encounter that blessed my heart the most was when a woman stood up behind our wooden pew row (150 year old small country Methodist church) and read a 4 page tribute. Before she began sharing, my eye caught the Home Depot logo on her dress shirt. She shared how much of an impact Miranda made on the Home Depot Grove City store team. Her work ethic, how much passion she had for her job (because she was grateful they gave her a chance to prove that "she'd be their best employee and not let them down"), her winsome personality/customer service, etc.
After the service, I turned around and introduced myself and thanked her for sharing such a beautiful tribute. When I told her I was from Rachel’s House, she talked about how much Miranda loved it and that she never knew about Miranda's past or that she was at a place like Rachel’s House until they asked her to work a third shift to unload mulch. Miranda took her aside and told her about being in a place called Rachel’s House and that there were rules about not being out past 11pm. She then proceeded to tell the manager her life story, struggles with addiction, prison, and how she was now rebuilding her life. Once Miranda shared her story and word got out, the Home Depot staff worked with her and were so impressed by her grit and not wanting a hand out but willingness to work hard to meet her goals.
The manager said, "we were so impressed that a place like Rachel’s House exists to help women like Miranda, that we are taking up a memorial collection among our employees and want to give it to Lower Lights."
The impact of who we are and what we do is far reaching. Who would have thought that a Rachel’s House rule (curfew of 11pm, no third shifts) would've "outed" Miranda to her manager and help change a perception of hiring people with a criminal background and provide a real example what the face of a recovering addict looks like.
In Memory of Miranda Hesler, 27, born June 17th 1992.
In the two weeks after their release, recently incarcerated people are almost 42 times more likely to die from an overdose than the general population. Rachel's House offers a supportive housing program in a safe environment where female ex-offenders can come directly from prison and join a residential community where they are accepted for who they are. The program outcomes seek to reduce the risk of recidivism (return to prison) and offer recovery support by providing comprehensive services specific to the needs of each woman starting a new life for herself.
Occasionally we are forced to acknowledge the harsh reality of the drug crisis as we mourn those whose struggle ended way too early. We have come to know, all to personally the tragedy of preventable drug overdose deaths, and we will intentionally let it encourage us to keep walking alongside those who are still on their journey.
This verse comes to mind...."so let's not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don't give up" (Galatians 6:9). As sowers, it's hard sometimes, especially when it looks like the crops are dying on the vine at times. But, I believe there are times where by His grace, God throws back the curtains and shows us a little glimpse of the harvest at just the right time as an encouragement to keep on sowing. He certainly knew I needed that preview last Tuesday.
So, my friends, on this International Overdose Awareness Day we will keep on sowing. What we do and Who we do it for matters.
For More information on ways to help pursue hope and freedom from addiction for participants at Lower Lights Ministries contact us at 614 228 3855 or lowerlights.org