Photos: LeAnn as a child at Bethel, seated at left, and today with her husband of 18 years.
She was a beautiful little girl with a dreamy smile. But she was living in a nightmare of abuse, and neglect that left her severely traumatized.
“Bethel saved me from a life of abuse,” LeAnn recalled. “Every nightmare a child could endure.”
A Life Redeemed
Today, you would not guess that LeAnn survived such serious adverse childhood experiences. She’s been happily married for 18 years and has four children. She credits Bethel for changing the way she saw the world — and herself.
“I don’t really know how to express the gratitude that I have for the love and respect that I was shown,” LeAnn said. She credits her Bethel House Parents with teaching her structure, respect for others and herself, and faith.
“I was first introduced to the Creator at Bethel,” she said “I was taught that every person has a path that they must follow to lead to where they want to be in life. These lessons I have tried to teach and values I have tried to instill in my own children. I don’t know what my life would be today without Bethel showing me that there was a fork in the road to a better life.”
A Patient and Persistent Love
Looking back, LeAnn said she did not make life easy for her Bethel House Parents at the time, Brent and Sandra Nicely.
“The trauma already ran very deep, she recalled. “Between my houseparents’ and staff, I began to flourish. I had a normal routine, I had someone at home with me at night and didn’t have to go hungry or afraid.”
While LeAnn was learning how to overcome the past, she was making new, funny and amazing memories. Like when she met popular country singer Lee Greenwood, who came to sing a benefit concert for Bethel.
“The funniest thing I remember was accidentally sneezing and spewing lemonade all over Lee Greenwood. He just laughed it off,” she recalled. “My most special memory was being able to visit the Whitehouse during the Reagan administration. It was completely thrilling for a child from my background to be given the opportunity”
LeAnn also appreciates the wisdom she learned from Ike Keay, former Bethel Executive Director.
“I was taught by Uncle Ike that it didn’t matter where you came from, all that mattered was where I was going,” she said. “He made a big impact for me.”
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