Seven years ago, Joyce Merritt started Still Waters Family Ministry to help struggling families. In these hard times, their support, guidance, and help for parents working to find their way forward, is much needed. They offer housing and transportation to those working to get their lives back on track, especially single parents.
“Those asking for our services must be in economic need,” said Merritt at a recent Rotary Club of Murfreesboro meeting. “They have to want to work our program, …and they must not be a danger to themselves or others, be willing to be drug tested, have transportation, and maintain a job.”
Still Waters places themselves as a “next step” to those who are dealing with a domestic violence situation or have been through rehab and are ready to move on with their lives. The organization provides housing for up to two years, therapeutic counseling, financial counseling, life skills training, child care assistance, and help with setting and meeting goals.
“We offer housing for free,” said Merritt, “as they come to us with nothing.”
Helping with cars is also important. Sometimes they get donations, and sometimes they buy used ones and help set up payments because single mothers are often taken advantage of when buying a car. They also help with car repairs and get them an AAA policy.
Sixty families have been helped, and not all of them are single mothers. One homeless father was able to get Head Start help for his daughter, get a steady job, receive help with setting goals and financial planning, and a home of their own. Another client went through drug rehab, stuck with the program and completed her LPN.
COVID-19 has been a real challenge for the organization with the disruption of schools and jobs. Still Water wishes they could help more. They are dependent on individual donations, church donations, and fundraisers, many of which have had to be canceled this year. They also get non-financial help from community members.
“We need mentors, life skills teachers, financial trainers, help with home maintenance and auto repair, as well as furniture and houseware donations,” said Merritt. “Although right now we are fine on donations of furniture and household items.”
They collaborate with many other organizations, including Insight Counseling, Middle Tennessee State University Counseling, University of Tennessee Agricultural Extension Service, Legal Aid, and Community Helpers. A hand up, not a hand out is their mission.
“I’m the ‘Big Mama’, you might say,” said Merritt. “Our clients have to find out how to move forward. Like the parent of adult children, I give our clients the gentle nudge they need, but they have to do it for themselves.”
Learn more about Still Waters here.