Now in its 12th year of operation, “dreams, miracles and positive transformation” continue as goals of Blue Monarch, a long-term, Christian faith-based treatment and recovery center located in rural Coffee County for abused and addicted women and their children.
Owned and operated by and for women, Blue Monarch’s stated mission is to provide a therapeutic residential community for women with a history of drug addiction, domestic abuse and other crisis situations and to break adverse cycles and rebuild their families.
According to founder Susan Binkley, it offers women a chance to get away from past influences for up to two years, if necessary, to focus on permanent recovery.
Blue Monarch also provides treatment and accommodations for residents’ children, 12 and under, with the stated goal of reconnecting the family as a whole in a healthy environment.
In its 12th year of operation, the entirely donor-funded center is reporting major milestones, including 600 women and children served, as well as a “burning of the note” ceremony to celebrate the payoff of the facility’s million-dollar mortgage from 2003.
The property contains three fully furnished homes, a barn, greenhouse, pond and swimming pool.
According to information provided by the Blue Monarch, each resident’s one- to two-year program is tailored to her individual and family needs and includes life coaching and training classes in a host of areas such as work ethics, nutrition, self-care and more.
The female staff provides babysitting and transportation as needed, professional counseling and self-esteem building; bible study, spiritual development and recovery work; coordination with courts and probation officers, emergency assistance and coordination with medical care.
Chickens, goats and other animals provide opportunities for the families to work the farm together.
Out of the Blue Granola
Residents also learn job skills in Blue Monarch’s for-profit food business, Out of the Blue Granola, also known as “granola with a purpose.”
Each package tells the story of one of the Blue Monarch women who baked it, along with her testimony of recovery.
“Our granola business doesn’t really support the center financially, but it does provide marketing for what we do at Blue Monarch, as well as work and training opportunities for women in the program,” Binkley said.
Binkley said its annual budget of approximately $400,000 comes primarily from individual donors, family foundations and civic groups.
Residents attend area churches of their choice while children are taken to elementary school by on-site transportation.
Paige Prescott Lashlee, one of three Tullahoma members of Blue Monarch’s board of directors, said Blue Monarch has given her the opportunity to witness miracles in the making on a regular basis.
“I’m so proud to be part of it,” Lashlee said. “It’s been a gift to be able to watch these women turn their lives around, and there are so many wonderful things that take place there every day.
“It has an incredibly high success rate, and while many of the residents come straight from jail or from tragic or violent situations, it’s also an option where you’d feel comfortable sending a friend or sister or other relative, where they can start getting help before their situation gets terribly out of control.”
Executive and development assistant Alicia Alexander said while there is generally a waiting list, prospective residents are encouraged to apply at any time.
“The application process takes about one to two weeks, and even though there’s always a waiting list, you never know when an opening may come available,” she said.
“We recently held a reunion of several former children residents from our first years who are now in their early teens.
“It was a great opportunity for these young people to reminisce about their time at Blue Monarch and talk about what they’ve learned, not only from their moms’ mistakes but also from connecting and re-connecting with each other.”
Upcoming 5k fundraiser
Lashlee said her family business’s signature product Sun-Drop will be sponsoring a 5K race on Saturday, June 6, at Frazier McEwen Park, with children’s activities such as a bounce house and face painting.
“Chik-Fil-A is supposed to be participating as well, with their cow and chicken sandwiches,” Lashlee said.
“We’ll be advertising in the newspaper and possibly on local TV, too, so stay tuned.
“It’s a great cause, not just to run for, but also if any local businesses or groups that are interested in becoming a sponsor.”
For more information or to make an online donation, visit www.bluemonarch.org.
To learn more about or purchase Out of the Blue Granola, visit www.outofthebluegranola.com.