Volunteer helps lead divorce recovery and kids support groups

For 10 years, Charlene Smith has been a volunteer facilitator of DivorceCare, a weekly DVD seminar held Thursday nights from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at First Baptist Church. Five years ago, the church added a DivorceCare for Kids support group. And last year, Single & Parenting was added.

Smith has seen firsthand how these groups offer hope and healing, and so she’s trying to spread the word.

“I am pushing for more awareness so people know about these groups,” she said. “I want them to know that just because they are coming through a church door doesn’t mean we are trying to build our membership.”

A team of about seven volunteers helps facilitate these three, 13-week groups that will start again this fall on Thursday, Sept. 7.

Smith went through the divorce support group herself 10 years ago.

“I went through it and the biggest thing I took away was that I needed to forgive all aspects of the divorce,” she said. “I had forgiven my husband. I had to deal with the feelings and other circumstances.”

Smith and her husband did reconcile and remarry, but she was widowed in 2012.

“I went through this class and I didn’t want to go through that pain for nothing,” she said. “I wanted to be able to help people with what I learned. People come and think they are the only person feeling this devastation. When they meet others going through the same emotions, they become a great support group.”

Smith believes that about 150 people have gone through the course.

“The rewards of this work are when I see people that came through here and I know their life was hit by a tornado,” she said. “Then I see them back in the community with a good relationship with their kids, financially they are feeling more secure and they have worked through that process in a healthy way. I see them going on with a happy life and that’s the biggest reward for me.”

All of the programs mentioned are presented together with GriefShare.

“Our goal is to encourage and support everyone going through great life changes, due to circumstances beyond their control,” she said.

The 13 DivorceCare Seminars feature 32 renowned experts on divorce and recovering, including Dr. Tony Evans, Kay Arthur and more. The weekly sessions are geared to help people deal with the pain of the past and look forward to rebuilding a good life.

To learn more about DivorceCare, DivorceCare for Kids, and Single & Parenting, call the First Baptist Church office at (231) 775-5629.