Ruth Waite, a local woodcarver, has donated a piece of her work to the Center for Women's Ministries of Clay County. Waite chose a lighthouse as the theme for the relief carving which she donated to the center. The piece is carved from basswood and the frame is cherry. The lighthouse theme is used throughout the center. The inscription on the carving is inspired by Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path."
Waite has been carving for six years and has done relief carving, small figures, and chip carving. She has displayed her work at Java Haute, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology, and at the Crossroads Arts Fest, all in Terre Haute. She has also been recognized as the Artist of the Month by the Wabash Valley Art Guild.
"The people at the center have done so much for me since I learned of them, and I just wanted to give something back," Waite says.
Asked about her experience, Waite said that she learned about the center's counseling services last June. Waite, 47, was a victim of sexual abuse in her childhood. She thought that she had healed completely from her experience but discovered, to her dismay, that it was still intruding on her relationships with others. Through the counseling services at the center, she was able to talk with others who had similar experiences and to learn that she was not alone in what she felt.
The Center for Women's Ministries, which now has centers in many parts of the United States and one in Sierra Leone, Africa, was launched in 1989 in Bloomington, Ind., by Reova Meredith. Meredith was a teacher and realized that many women needed a safe place to talk about their concerns. Professional counseling is very expensive, often costing $100 or more per hour, and few women have insurance that covers counseling services, even though they could be greatly helped by counseling.
The center in Clay County opened in the fall of 1999. Staffed entirely by volunteers and supported by tax deductible contributions, they offer individual counseling for women and for teens, marriage counseling, support groups and Bible studies. The center is directed by Pauline McPherson and Debra Watt is the assistant director of the center. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., or by appointment. Appointments can be made by calling (812) 939-1317.
McPherson reports that when they learn of a need that someone has for counseling, they try to meet that need.
"If people have issues that they haven't dealt with, that will continue to affect their lives until they work through those issues and come to some kind of resolution. The women who volunteer as counselors here have been through many of the things that people bring to the center. We understand from experience what our clients are going through," McPherson said.
Waite agreed, saying, "When I came to the support group here, I was quite nervous, but I felt seen and accepted in a way that I had not felt in my whole life."
The center is a Christian ministry, but non-Christians are welcome to use the services available. McPherson said that non-Christians are never forced to talk about God.
"We believe that God is the answer to our needs," McPherson said. "If a person does not want to talk about God, though, we certainly respect those wishes. It's that simple."
The counseling is both non-judgmental and confidential. All records are kept in a locked file, and confidentiality requirements for the volunteers are the same as for professional counselors. Volunteer counselors at the center are required to take the center's fourteen-week training program, and are required to update their training annually.