– Excerpts from an interview with Randy Edgar, Director
DAN: We’re on the phone this morning with Randy Edgar, Director of Van Orman House. We’re going to continue our conversation across Quakerdale about prevention. Quakerdale has identified three foundational fibers that we try to incorporate in all of our ministries agency wide. One is prevention, the other one’s education, and the final one is support. And so this morning we’re going to visit with Randy a little bit and talk about how prevention is an important component at Van Orman. So, Randy, welcome. Glad to have you here this morning.
RANDY: Thank you.
DAN: Randy, as you take a look at working with women who want to build a new life, what role does prevention play? What are some things that you have seen in these ladies lives that highlight how important it is to incorporate prevention at Van Orman?
RANDY: Most of the women that we’re dealing with, the biggest simple thing we found in each one of them is the lack of self esteem. I am trying to train and put self worth back in them, importance back in them, and to get them to believe they can achieve. In the different classes, in watching them progress through those courses, if they run the course, I love watching them little-by-little get faith as different accomplishments happen. Their faces say, “Yeah, I can do that. Yeah, I can do that!” So I think the loss of self esteem is a huge thing to prevent. I don’t know if you’d call it an illness or what I would call it, Dan, but most of the women have been beat down; beat down and left for nothing. They don’t think they’re worth anything.
DAN: So prevention plays a big role in making sure that they don’t have the wrong view of themselves, and don’t look at themselves too lowly, and don’t allow themselves to get into situations where they could be abused or taken advantage of because of poor self esteem?
RANDY: Right. Society’s not necessarily agreeing with what I’m trying to teach them. Society is teaching them that they’re not going to be worth anything. Choosing the right type of people to be around and have in their lives is very important. When you choose the wrong groups to run with, and that’s all you know all your life, and that’s who your family’s always running with, and maybe your family’s not the greatest group either, you don’t know any different. And that’s the type of people they just seem to cling to and hang with. They need to try to break that curse or chain, but trying to break that generational thing, They’ve been brought up this way from generation, to generation, to generation, and it’s got to take Jesus, because we cannot do it on our own. So that’s where we start; getting them to believe in Jesus, and then to believe in themselves.
DAN: So, give us a little idea of how you use prevention to help build good and healthy habits. How does that work?
RANDY: The people that we get have been interviewed. Through the interview process when they come in, and it is pretty extensive, I want to hear that they want change. I don’t want them just to think that this a shelter. I explain to them what the program’s going to be and how intensive it’s going to be so they are not surprised when they get there. The way we’re going about it is by education. I try to keep their minds off to much thinking, and to keep their minds filled with Christ-like thoughts. We have a very structured schedule of classes: Bible study, topical classes with homework, they have Bible reading classes, they have nighttime Bible study classes, they have online college courses, and we try to get them their GED if they don’t have it.
We also get them into what kind of career they want. A lot of the girls already have their GEDs, they just never got any further. Either they had children along the way and now they’re tied down to that house. Or maybe it’s an abusive husband, or maybe an addiction that’s got in the way. We encourage them and we get them hooked up with Iowa State Extension. Sometimes we get them hooked up with continued education here in town. We actually get them out to the college. There’s grant money available for them to go to college. We also do online classes right from here. You see the smiles on their faces when they start making some of those accomplishments. Because up to that time, it had just been dreams and talks that they never thought could happen.
So trying to keep them occupied and their minds occupied is very important. The longer they sit around they can fall back into that old mindset of worthlessness. And the first time something bad happens, that devil throws something bad at them, they want to give up and run and do the same reaction as they always have. Teaching them how to handle every one of life’s situations through Biblical answers is a key for us. We stay focused on that. And that’s why it’s important to have the Christian ladies there all the time that work with them, whether they be volunteers, or a resident assistant. Having somebody there that these young ladies can go to when they want to talk. And after they get to trust a little bit, they do. I think the key is to keep them loaded down with good work towards their next right steps.
DAN: Well, Randy, thank you so much. I appreciate not only you, but also the ministry of Van Orman. And we are excited to see what the Lord’s going to do to continue to help these women build great lives, not only for themselves, but also for their family and their children.