The Mercy program is based on Christian principles and teachings but uses proven methods and professional counseling staff to serve a diverse population of young women from across the United States. Our program is designed to provide the women we serve with the tools necessary to break free from the destructive cycles controlling their lives and to instead live healthy, independent, Christian lifestyles. The Mercy program lasts approximately six months and usually culminates with graduation from the program. However, length of stay may vary due to individual needs and situations, and in certain instances (such as pregnant girls who give birth) residents may leave the program prior to graduation but still having accomplished desired outcomes.
Mercy Ministries is completely free of charge to the young women we serve. Many of the girls who come to Mercy for help are facing a combination of debilitating circumstances and have been in various treatment facilities with unsuccessful long-term results. We are committed to providing the young women we serve with excellent program services that allow them to recognize their self-worth and prepare them to reach their full potential. Through the application of God’s unconditional love, our approach to healing allows young women to permanently stop destructive cycles and prepares them to take hope out into their communities.
Mercy Ministries is structured to provide residents with a multi-dimensional approach addressing life-controlling issues. The program is designed to last approximately six months; however, length of stay may vary due to individual needs and situations.
- Life Skills Training – Each young woman receives training in the areas of cooking, cleaning, managing a home environment, and managing a budget. These skills are taught in a class format and in a practical way, as each person is responsible for assigned chores in the home.
- Classroom Time – Each young woman gets classroom teachings in areas such as forgiveness, anger management, setting boundaries, and other global principles to be applied in specific counseling situations. Many resources are used from renowned teachers such as Beth Moore, Priscilla Shirer, Jordan Rubin, Joyce Meyer, and Dave Ramsey.
- Bible Classes – Each young woman participates in daily worship and Bible reading. Many powerful speakers and Christian music artists come in person to teach the residents as well.
- Financial Management – Each resident completes Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace program before graduating from Mercy.
- Nutrition Education – Each young woman has her own specific food plan that is developed by the Nutrition Manager.
- Fitness Education – Each young woman has a plan for fitness developed by the Fitness Manager based on her specific goals and needs. Residents also have many opportunities to participate in fun recreational activities.
Outside Activities – There are many opportunities for residents to experience
components of life outside the walls of the home. Throughout their stay at Mercy, residents often have the opportunity to experience various activities in the community.
- On Fridays, residents go on an outing to a local mall for shopping and lunch, as well as a local Target or Walmart for toiletries and other personal items.
- Residents often attend local sporting events, conferences, appropriate concerts and movies when tickets are donated.
- Saturdays are a day off for the residents and they can sleep in, relax, and watch movies.
- Weekends are set aside for residents to make and receive phone calls from family and friends, enjoy a slightly less scheduled, more relaxed environment, and attend church on Sundays.
- Residents who are in the program during Christmas go home for two weeks during this time. If a young woman does not have a family, or the situation at home is not comfortable for her, arrangements are made for her to stay with a local, loving host family.
The Mercy Ministries counseling curriculum combines biblical principles of healing and unconditional love with best-practice clinical interventions and has been developed over nearly three decades of experience. The counseling model is called “Choices That Bring Change” and includes seven key components. They are:
- Commitment to Christ
- Choosing to Forgive
- Renewing the Mind
- Generational Patterns
- Healing Life Hurts
- Freedom From Oppression
- Principles for Life-long Success
Counselors work with residents to:
- Identify the root causes for destructive behavior.
- Equip residents with the life skills and the ability to permanently avoid destructive behaviors.
- Identify goals at 30, 60 and 90 days, and by 90 days, start working on aftercare goals with an approximate six-month timeline in mind. The program is designed to last approximately six months and culminate with graduation from the program; however, length of stay may vary due to individual needs and situations.
- Provide accountability to residents while they are in the program.
Mercy Ministries does not practice recovered memory therapy.
Counselors also give input to a core team of staff, including the Fitness Manager, Nutrition Manager and the Director of Medical Services, to provide each resident with individualized, holistic care based on each resident’s needs.
In addition to individual counseling, residents also participate in group counseling on a weekly basis. This time is focused on solutions and is not a time to rehash past issues.
The program works because the resident identifies issues, takes responsibility and makes choices to move forward.
Mercy Ministries’ program staff is qualified through their education, skills, experience and maturity in their relationship with God to serve each resident.
All counselors at Mercy Ministries are required to hold a bachelor's degree from an accredited university in social work, psychology, counseling or a related field, and more than 80% have master’s degrees. The Nashville, Sacramento, and St. Louis homes have licensed RN’s on staff. Although Mercy Ministries is not a medical facility, some of the young women who enter the program have medical issues that need to be managed. At each home, the Director of Medical Services:
- Takes the residents to medical and dental appointments.
- Monitors medications.
- Works with Vanderbilt Midwives for pregnant residents (Nashville home only).
- Works with local practitioners to provide psychiatric oversight as needed.
- Sees the residents as needed.
All Mercy Ministries homes have a Fitness Manager and a Nutrition Manager.
- The Fitness Manager plans recreational time for the young women each day and helps them develop a healthy view of exercise.
- The Nutrition Manager approves all menus, making sure each meal has a proper balance of proteins, carbohydrates, vegetables, etc. Many residents are able to transition off of medication through proper diet.
The Nashville home has a licensed secondary education teacher on staff. All minors who enter the program are residents of the Nashville home which is fully accredited by the state of Tennessee to provide education. All minors must:
- Continue their studies through the Pathways computer program, which links them to school work at their current grade-level.
- Correspond with their hometown school to complete current grade-level work, or,
- Work towards earning a GED. (NOTE: Residents over the age of 18 in any of our homes who would like to complete their high school education are encouraged to take part in the GED program as well.)
Mercy Ministries has adjunct services that support the resident program including Intake, Adoptions and Transitional Care.
Intake Department: At any one time there are between 400 and 600 young
women in the application process. All intake staff members are currently
located in the Nashville, TN corporate headquarters and all applications
and placements are handled through this office. The Director of Intake has
a master’s degree in counseling. The Intake Department at Mercy:
- Assists young women in the application process including gathering all medical records, interviewing each applicant, assessing applicants’ desire to enter Mercy and managing flow of applications.
- Defines program expectations with future residents prior to entry in the program.
- Informs Program Staff of future resident’s specific needs and circumstances.
- Assigns counseling materials to future residents while they are waiting to enter the program.
- Coordinates with Program Directors in each home and assists in transitioning young women from the waiting list into homes as beds become available.
Adoptions/Pregnant Resident Services: The Nashville Corporate
Office has an in-house licensed adoption agency. The Director of
Adoptions has a master’s degree in social work. Mercy Ministries
provides each resident facing an unplanned pregnancy with:
- A Basic Decision Making course to enable them to make an educated decision about either parenting or placing a child for adoption.
- Parenting classes for residents who choose to parent.
- Adoption planning services and post-adoption counseling for any resident who chooses to place her baby for adoption.
Transitional Care: The Director of Transitional Care has a
master’s degree in counseling. The Transitional Care Department at Mercy:
- Works with each resident, her Counselor and Program Staff to assist her as she prepares to graduate and re-enter the community.
- Conducts three, six and twelve-month evaluations after graduation to monitor progress and ensure successful reintegration into the community.
- Provides support and general counsel to young women after they have left the program. Directs residents to local churches and assists when needed.
- Pairs each resident with an accountability partner to assist and encourage her after she graduates from the program.
- Provides assistance in the areas of education, employment, transportation, community involvement and health care.
- Intake Department: At any one time there are between 400 and 600 young women in the application process. All intake staff members are currently located in the Nashville, TN corporate headquarters and all applications and placements are handled through this office. The Director of Intake has a master’s degree in counseling. The Intake Department at Mercy: