Beacon of Hope received a grant from the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation this past winter. This grant is to help support the operation and continued development of Beacon of Hope’s court mandated therapy groups and individual counseling. Our very first court mandated counseling group was on May 14, 2018. The original intent of the group was to reduce the number of clients on probation and parole who were waiting to meet with a counselor. The solution was to give these clients a community of people who understood what they were going through, with absolutely no wait time. Our very first group had four clients. As the word about the group got out to other probation and parole officers, our group grew, eventually leading to an additional group on August 27, 2018. We currently have an evening group on Wednesdaysand a morning group on Mondays. The group is an open group, allowing clients to start when and as needed. This also allows clients to return to group counseling if they ever wanted or needed.
Holland, MI is currently dealing with a non-violent crime crisis (County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, 2018). Regretfully, the majority of Ottawa County’s transgressors are repeat offenders, showing a cycle of recidivism and a broken system (Ottawa County Administrative Offices, 2018). This grant is to aid in the current void of support for this population, working to reduce and eliminate recidivism and generational cycles.
The probation and parole group embraces clients where they are, giving them a place to share their frustrations, stories, and current and past life challenges, while also giving each individual helpful tools to get them through the next crisis or bump in the road. The groups are small communities. Members in the group come to session and show genuine compassion for each other. They offer support, whether that be about a mechanical issue a member might be having with his or her car or building someone up when he or she shares a story about his or her past. Each week, the members come to group willing to listen, are present, and work to build a better life for themselves and each other. The group members care for one another. This is evident by the concern group members have for each other when one member misses a group session.
Personally, I’ve been blessed to have been a part of our court mandated groups on and off for the past year and a half. Each week, I am completely fulfilled by the group sessions and the work that God does in each client, each and every week. I love watching the group dynamic. Specifically, I love watching clients come to group with no desire to be there, but over time they open up and become a part of each group members’ journey, while at the same time growing within themselves. We are a support group. We keep each other accountable. We push and challenge each other to be better versions of ourselves. Breaking generational cycles is never easy. Undoing what someone has been taught for years takes time and patience. The biggest part of our jobs as counselors at Beacon of Hope is showing compassion to those who might have never seen or felt compassion. We care here at Beacon of Hope. We want to show God’s light to our clients in ever capacity. Showing court mandated clients this same love will hopefully lead to a ripple effect that lasts for generation to come.
As I always tell my clients: “Life is tough. There will be good days and bad days, but you had to climb over some of the highest mountains. So while life might be tough, you’re tougher.”
County Health Rankings & Roadmaps (2018). How healthy is your community? Robert Wood Johnson
Foundation. Retrieved from http://www.countyhealthrankings.org/.
Ottawa County Administrative Offices. (2018) Ottawa County 58 th District Court. District court probation
& community corrections. Retrieved September 3, 2018 from Ottawa County Administrative
Olivia serves as the Groups Coordinator at Beacon of Hope. She began as an intern at Beacon in December 2017, during which she found a love and passion for working with mandated clients. This passion led to the development of our current court mandated therapy groups. In her free time, you’ll find Olivia running, hiking, camping, and playing on different rec leagues.