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Doll’s House resident gets scholarship


Doll’s House resident gets scholarship
: Christna Freeman (right) with Doll’s House Johnnie and Stephanie Turner.

A 20-year-old Lincoln County woman who will begin studies at Co-Lin in the fall semester is the college’s first recipient and one of the first recipients in Mississippi of a unique scholarship established by the state legislature to assist students who spent time in the foster care system.


Christina Freeman has been awarded $1,750 for her tuition, fees and other expenses at Co-Lin during the fall semester through the “Fostering Access & Inspiring True Hope Scholarship” spearheaded by Mississippi Representative Bill Kinkade in the 2022 state legislative session. The faith scholarship to promote faith and hope among those who come out of foster care pays up to the full cost of attending Mississippi colleges to former foster youth.


Until she went to a teacher with her story when she was 12 years old, Freeman had what she describes as an “awful childhood,” sexually abused regularly by her father and abandoned by her mother to his desires. Living with a brother at the time, she says “I got tired of the abuse, and had to tell somebody.” She had thought about running away over the years, but “there was no place to go,” she says.


Freeman, now a resident of the Doll’s House, a Brookhaven mission home where women find healing from the wounds and scars of their past, still has a hard time telling her story, which also encompasses almost seven years in Mississippi Child Protective Services (CPS) after law enforcement authorities removed her from her family situation. Those years included institutional and foster care that were a band aid, but did not address deep-rooted spiritual and mental health problems with which the Doll’s House is helping her.


When Freeman aged out of CPS at 18 years old, her case worker convinced Johnnie and Stephanie Turner, who run the Doll’s House program, to provide her its transitional housing alternative, which can only accommodate 12 persons at a time.


“I didn’t think we could help her, but agreed to try if she could qualify for the Co-Lin high school Graduate Equivalency Diploma (GED) program,” says Stephanie. “Christina not only qualified on the assessment test for the program, but blew it out of the water with her scores.”


June 27, when she received her GED, was a landmark day for Freeman, but landmarks have characterized everyday life for her since coming to the Doll’s House. “Christina has overcome lot of mental and physical issues and challenges,” Stephanie relates. “Healthcare institutions cared for her by doping her with mind-calming drugs and sedatives, from which we weaned her so she could function normally. Rarely did she smile when she came here, but she always wears a pretty grin on her face now. She is also learning to own her story and to share it with others.” And, of course, there’s the scholarship that will fund her studies in office business technology at Co-Lin. Her first class will mark another major landmark day.


Ask Freeman about the Doll’s House, where she lives communally with other women also seeking to overcome problems that brought them there – domestic abuse, incarceration, addiction, homelessness, among others, she responds simply:


“Amazing!”


The Turners came to Brookhaven ten years ago after service in the Jackson area with Baptist missions for children and youth to start the Doll’s House as a stepping stone for formerly incarcerated women returning to society. Within five years, it was clear their program could help a broad array of women in transition in different circumstances who require healing and empowerment. Its population now also includes children whom the Doll’s House is trying to reunify with their mothers after they were taken away.


Their program emphasizes eight healing steps: personal development, vocational training, substance abuse counseling, interpersonal skills, personal and spiritual development, building community involvement, leisure activities and independent living skills. As a Christian mission, a foundational component of the work, the Turners say, is introducing Doll’s House women to Jesus. “When they know Jesus, it is easier to help them see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Stephanie says. The Doll’s House, she adds, finds scriptural guidance in Matthew 25:34-40 where Jesus commends those who gave him meat and drink when he hungered and was thirsty, took him in as a stranger, clothed and visited him when he was naked and sick, and came to him when he was in prison.


For information on the Doll’s House and making donations for its work, contact Darlene Slater Rehabilitation Center for Women, P.O Box 3172, Brookhaven, Mississippi 39603. Telephone: 601-291-8757 (Stephanie Turner) and 601-519-3546 (Johnnie Turner).


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