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By Tim Miller
Having spent most of my career in advertising and marketing communications, I am no stranger to branding issues, product naming, and theme development (think “Mad Men” without the glamour and a lot of hard work!). Weeks, months, and sometimes even years were devoted by many people to creating the absolute best logo, product name, or creative tagline.
Earlier this year, as Mission & Outreach began planning for Spring opportunities to serve others, the idea of “Let Love Grow” was suggested as an umbrella theme for all of the Christ Church Cranbrook activities.
As I reflected on that suggestion, I realized that Madison Avenue creative types couldn’t have chosen a better expression of the collaboration between Christ Church Cranbrook and Sanctum House, the organization for trafficked women that we have supported for almost six years.
We first answered the call to help the newly launched organization dedicated to rescuing women whose lives had been destroyed by human trafficking in 2018. Our “seedling” efforts that first year consisted of cleaning up the overgrown grounds of a rented building that would become the home for 14 women who were struggling to regain their lives.
Fast forward five years, and that “seedling” has not only flowered but also borne fruit. Working side-by-side with the Sanctum House residents and staff, Christ Church Cranbrook volunteers have turned the house grounds into a pleasant environment each year, helped feed the residents by creating a large vegetable garden, and rehabilitated a meditative trail for reflection and prayer. Christ Church Cranbrook funding enabled the creation of a library room, a quiet room, and a “boutique” where women (who often arrive with only the clothes they are wearing) can choose donated clothes with dignity.
Our church’s efforts have played a part in transforming the lives of women who were never shown kindness, genuine love, or given anything without an expectation that they had to pay it back. Sanctum House graduates have begun self-supporting lives outside of the program. The current board of directors includes one graduate who directly credited Christ Church Cranbrook’s love and support as a key factor in her success. Others have cited the garden activities as giving them a sense of purpose, while for others, it was a learning experience they had never had before.
In the first three months of 2023 alone, two residents have graduated, three have enrolled in college and GED programs, several have gained full-time employment, and several have renewed long-lost ties with their families.
2023 also marks physical growth for the program. A combination of grants has allowed Sanctum House to purchase the current house plus two adjacent buildings to form a true campus for the program and, most importantly, triple the capacity of residents.
I can’t think of a better example of how a series of simple acts like planting flowerpots, spreading mulch, or sharing a conversation while working side-by-side can merge and grow into a much larger expression of love for those all around us.
If you’d like to “Let Love Grow,” please consider joining us on May 20 at Sanctum House. You can sign up here! It will be a fun day of fellowship and an experience that provides a serious sense of accomplishment!