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"Not only do I have life--I live” - Keepers Transformation House program inspires new purpose

A look into how the Keepers Transformation House one-year discipleship program is uplifting the women involved.
Posted at 5:15 AM, May 21, 2024

OILDALE, Calif. (KERO) — “I live today...Amen.” Essie Belk is near the end of the Keepers Transformation House program, and she says it's filled her life with a new purpose.

  • Video shows a look into the offerings on North Chester Street behind Keepers of the Cross church. An overnight crisis shelter, transitional housing and one-year discipleship program are all available to women in the community.
  • Keepers Transformation House officially opened in 2023, and they say since then, they've helped over 1,000 women.
  • The one-year discipleship program teaches life skills, including money management and social skills.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT:

In Oildale, a crisis shelter provided a safe place for over 200 women to sleep, just in the first few months of 2024. Keepers Transformation House offers more than the overnight shelter, and 23ABC's Grace Laverriere had the chance to meet some women who say their lives have changed through the programs.

“Voices, choices and consequences. I listened to those voices for 32 years,” Essie Belk says.

Essie Belk is in her eleventh month of the Keepers Transformation House one-year discipleship program.

She tells me she spent over 30 years suffering from addiction, and after spending a night in Keeper’s crisis shelter, she had a health scare.

“I had just had a heart attack and stroke and was in a coma for eight days before I did detox," Belk said. "I didn’t have enough strength to leave, so I asked God, ‘Foxes have holes and birds have nests–is there a place for me?’”

Returning to Keepers Transformation House is where Essie found her place.

“They said, ‘Where you wanna go?’ and I had nowhere to go," Belk said. "So I said, take me back where I came from which is Oildale at Keepers of the Cross.”

“God has just inspired us to do different things in the community,” Kevin Freeman said.

Pastor Kevin Freeman is the director of the program, and he says since they first opened Keepers of the Cross church in 2014, their mission has expanded.

“We have an overnight shelter that houses up to six women a night. We have a discipleship program that we have capacity for up to 12 women," Freeman explained. "And then once the women graduate, we have an opportunity for them to go into our transitional living.”

Between the overnight shelter, transitional housing and the discipleship program, Keepers Transformation House has impacted many women's lives.

“Since we have opened in 2023, we have served over 1,000 women,” Freeman said.

The one-year program helps women experiencing homelessness, addiction or other crises by teaching life skills and providing support. The program is centered around faith.

“This place offers a holistic approach. It’s not just about your drug addiction it’s not just about the specific crisis you’re in," Heather Mallory said. "They make sure they touch all areas.”

Heather Mallory is the first graduate from the one-year program.

“2023 was the best year of my life,” she said.

And now, she works for Keepers Transformation House as a program assistant.

“Now, working here and giving back and helping the girls who are going through the same things I was is a blessing," Mallory said. "Sometimes I feel like I need to pinch myself, but every time I do it hurts, so I’m awake.”

The women in the program participate in the church’s community service events in addition to their regimented program studies, something assistant director Heidi Adams says changes lives.

“We have volunteers on campus and of course staff and community members, and they say, ‘Oh my gosh, is that even the same woman? I can barely even recognize her,'” Adams said.

As Essie nears the end of the program, she says she’s ready to learn what God has planned for her next.

“I’m gonna make it. I’ll stay right here," she said.

Keepers Transformation House says they rely on donations to continue inspiring purpose and aim to be as low-barrier as possible for women seeking help. For more information on the program, you can visit their website or call (661) 302-0293. To make a one-time or monthly donation to the program, visit their donation website.


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