Our Director's Story
I am often asked, “Whatever inspired you to start a furniture painting business for struggling women?” For sure, that’s a good question.
One of the greatest joys of my life was being a cancer and hospice nurse for 25 years. However, after all these years caring for people often at the end of their lives, I felt called to help people at different parts of life. I felt called to go to seminary; I was not really sure what that meant or how that would unfold. This was a difficult decision because my life was full. I was married with four busy teenagers at home.
With the love and support of my family, I became a full-time commuter student at Eden Theological Seminary. During my seminary studies, I completed an Internship at Magdalene House and Thistle Farms in Nashville, TN (www.thistlefarms.org). It was there that my heart was changed by women that experienced lives of addiction, abuse, and prostitution. I began to understand that most all women are the same, wanting to love and be loved but some need to be given a chance. I believe that most women want to help themselves, but opportunities for employment are limited to many and there are many barriers that are difficult to navigate. Some women need extra support and skills before transitioning to the secular world. And, it’s a beautiful thing to see how happy children are when their mothers become more hopeful.
I believe I was called to use my gifts and privilege to join with others to help make a difference in the lives of women and mothers in need. During seminary, I began serving at Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church. It was there, with the support of an amazing congregation, we founded Wooden It Be Lovely. Wooden It Be Lovely is a program of Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church. It is a social enterprise that offers hope by assisting mothers in need of employment, job skills, recovery tools, mentoring, and love in our neighborhood and community. So really, it's not about painting furniture- it's about offering hope to mothers and loving their children. Restoring furniture is a good thing, restoring hope to a mother is an amazing thing.
Our Board Of Directors
Marlain Beard- Community Networker
Cindy Brent- ReMax Professionals
Mark Cullen- Cullen Law, Ltd
Cindy Davis- Resource One
Jen DeJong- Ministry Architects
Linda Harrod- Retired Deacon, United Methodist Church
Julie Krehbiel- Sikich Financial
Emily Miller- Bunn Corporaton
Dede Murphy- Carrolton Bank
Upasana Nanda- Community Advocate
Lori Payne-Mullett- Community Advocate
Libby Shelley- Prairie State Bank & Trust
Founding Non-Voting Members
Roxanne Harling- Memorial Health Systems
Margaret Ann Jessup- Director
Wooden It Be Lovely is a non-profit social enterprise designed to give women in need unique and empowering employment and enriching relationships. This ministry is sponsored by Douglas Avenue United Methodist Church and is based on the premise that the Christian Gospels make it abundantly clear that Jesus calls us to care for the poor and others who are marginalized.
Our ministry's response to women recovering from lives of poverty and/or addiction differs from the secular world. When someone seeks assistance, the Church has something to offer in addition to responding to the direct need. The Church offers a nurturing and supporting family that is embodied by it’s words, actions, and life together.
Charity has always been a part of the mission of the Church. In recent years it has become apparent that one-way giving (i.e., the church giving money to those in need upon request) subtly implies that the recipient has nothing of value to give in return. Over time this type of giving establishes dependency on others, causing a cycle of oppression and loss of dignity for those involved.
Wooden It Be Lovely provides women in transition (those healing from lives of poverty and/or moms in recovery) with a unique and empowering job. The women refurbish donated wood furniture and sell their lovely refurbished furniture to the public. The work environment is supportive and empowering; providing childcare on the premise.
At the church, the women work side by side with volunteers from the community and congregation. It is the belief of this ministry that both those with material poverty and those that have the means benefit by working together and developing new relationships. The women also receive classes on life skills and childcare, recovery support and job and interview skills.
Women that are healing from lives of poverty and addiction often feel like society does not want to deal with them. The WIBL women relate to the metaphor of old furniture; often discarded, cracked, wobbly, unloved, and stained. With love, time and attention these wonderful women, like old furniture, can be refurbished into something lovely.