Resident Testimonials

The True Meaning of Grace
By: Teresa
Karis represents the true meaning of Grace. Without the Grace that I have been shown by the staff and community at Karis, I would not be where I am today. Everyone who is involved with this place has in some incredible way had a hand in my well-being.

After a long struggle through intensive residential hospital stays since the age of thirteen and several suicideattempts, I was left with low self-esteem, severe impulsive behaviors, and a diagnosis of Schizophrenia, OCD, and extreme anxiety. I came to Karis in September 2005 ready to change, but I quickly got distracted from my goals and left on an impulse early one morning. Guilt flooded my heart after my departure and the events that followed. I finally realized that my life needed to be sorted out and that it needed to happen at Karis. I started the process all over again—re-applying, interviewing, waiting, going through the first thirty days, and so on. I was graciously re-accepted by the community, and am earning back trust with staff, friends, new residents, and family.

I have been at Karis for two months now, and I have begun to order and fill my own meds alone, learning doses and names, too. I pay my rent and bills on time. I am cooking and successfully completing my chores.

After having a down night and talking it out with the wonderful staff here, I realized something: you can take what you are dealing with and change it for the better, or you can let it pull you down, down so far that it affects you as well as others around you. So I am taking the opportunities I have to be happy, to help, to learn and to be me! One thing I have to do is learn to love me, and that will take some time. Here at Karis is the best place to work on it. Therefore, I will take this moment to thank all the people who have shown Grace to me: the board members, volunteers, the staff, and the community. Thank You!

Day by Day
By: Heather
It is hard to know where to begin to describe my experiences at Karis. I have been here six months, and the time has just flown. Because of my struggles with cutting, I had to wait three months to get into Karis. The waiting was difficult, but it was beneficial, because when it was time to come to Karis I was ready and really wanted to be here. I think if I hadn’t come to Karis, I would have ended up dead. I was so ill and couldn’t see any other way out. I had tried all the things that are supposed to help, but nothing really did. Even though I was diagnosed with borderline personality disorder and post traumatic stress syndrome only three years ago, I have been suffering from mental illness since adolescence. I have attempted suicide three times and have been hospitalized five times. I have never been able to deal with my childhood abuse and work through it. My mental illness has affected every area of my life and has kept me from having a life. I want to be able to enjoy simple things, like taking a bath, or falling asleep without being afraid, or having someone hug me. I want to be able to have good friendships with people without being scared that they are going to leave me. There is so much to learn, and the process of growing is so slow. I try to give myself as much patience as I give to others. It is a daily struggle.

At Karis I found hope. I found a place where people accept me as I am, care about me, and are glad to see me. It has been a home like I have never known. It took me a long time to adjust, and sometimes I feel like I am still getting adjusted. It is so foreign to live with people who are kind and respectful. It is like living in another country. I have found great comfort in the schedules and order; they help me feel less chaotic and out of control. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to have dinner at the same time every night, to have things you can count on, people you can count on. At the end of the day, all I can think about is how much I want to be home at Karis, and I can’t wait to get there.

I think I might be one of the few people here who enjoy cooking for a large group, but it is a way I can care for my fellow residents. And although it is stressful, I love cooking something everyone can enjoy. Groups have been very challenging for me for many reasons. I am still trying to open up and trust people. That is one of the main things I hope to work on here at Karis. I have seen some progress, but I have a long way to go. Also, I have a very difficult time with conflict. I am still learning that conflict does not have to mean someone is going to get hurt. The staff at Karis is very helpful and caring. I still really miss the staff who left in the fall; I think that is because I don’t like change and not because the current staff aren’t just as great. I think what I enjoy the most is the time we sit around and visit, enjoying each other’s company. It seems there is always laughter and lively discussion. And when I can’t sleep there is almost always someone else up, too.

I worry I won’t have gotten enough out of Karis, that in a year and a half I won’t be ready to leave. For now, I try to focus on each day, doing the things I need to do to grow and get better, making good decisions and making the most of my time at Karis.

My Life Since Karis
By: Fred
Before coming to Karis, I was warehoused for 13 years in a Capitol Hill boarding home. All my cooking, cleaning, medicating and laundry were done by someone else. I was free to shuffle around the house aimlessly, with nothing better to do than smoke. When I came to Karis in 2000, I was eager to begin finding motivation for my own welfare. Over the next 19 months of my residency at Karis, I began to remember the act of standing on my own two feet. To my own amazement, I found that I still had what it took to act in my own behalf.

For the last three years, I have kept a studio apartment on Capitol Hill. For ten years, I have worked two afternoons a week at the psychiatric clinic across the street answering the telephone. I recently contracted with a reputable publisher who released my first novel, for which I am now getting royalty checks. Karis gave me the time and support to finish the book, which took 26 years to write. I write advertising over the Internet for a marketing council in Florida which supplements my income. I am seeing a woman every Sunday to go to church together, and our relationship can be best characterized as being like two glowing coals.

When I needed it, Karis was there to help me make the transition to living as a regular citizen, a whole person again. I hope Karis will always be there to help refurbish the lives of others who find themselves in a situation like that which I faced.

My Transition from Karis Community
By: Serene
I didn’t expect the move out of Karis Community into my own place to bring such huge waves of emotion ranging from sadness, grief, fear, and joy, all at the same time. After all, I had come a long way in my healing while at Karis through working hard to understand, manage and embrace my conditions, welcoming change, working on skills in developing equally respectful relationships, opening my heart to be able to trust people again, and enjoying the home-like environment that Karis creates.

During my rock passing ceremony, it was both joyous and difficult to hear how much people would miss me. I had thoughts such as “Have I made a mistake since I officially don’t have to be out until June of 2007?” “My son would never support me again if I changed my mind and decided to stay.” “I’m so looking forward to having a beautiful space with lots of light that I will be able to keep very clean and neat.”

I hadn’t had the opportunity to experience and “take in” celebrations for myself and others for many years until I came to Karis. Those types of social events and real human interaction will always come to mind when I think of the time I spent at Karis. You know, the events where people who care about you actually say so and celebrate your life no matter where you’re at mentally, emotionally, or physically.

The beauty of Karis Community is that the relationships you develop with the staff and residents don’t end when you move out. I have had many of my friends from Karis calling me to check in and see how I am doing, as well as to make plans to be together. The staff also shows their concern. I am enjoying my new place and am still in the process of making it my own.

I have such gratitude for Karis Community. My determination is to support the community in whatever way that I can. I want Karis to be there for other people, as it was when I needed so much. Thank you to all staff, board of directors, residents and patrons.