A ROAD TRIP TO REMEMBER
Written By: Darla Belflower
Bobbi Jo invited me to join her at Myrtle Beach for the second week of November. Always up for an adventure, I eagerly agreed. Booking my flight, I anticipated beach time and catching up with my friend. However, upon arrival, we were greeted by cold, rainy weather. Bobbi Jo mentioned needing to do some holiday shopping, so I tagged along, clueless about her approach to the holidays and making them personal.
I’ve known Bobbi Jo for about ten years, having met her while working for a local organization aiding individuals with substance use disorder. My first encounter was with her and Judy, also known as Mama Judy. Despite hearing about Healing House’s positive outcomes, meeting these two quirky ladies left me skeptical about their achievements. Over the past two years, I’ve become more involved with Healing House and gotten to know Bobbi Jo better. Collaborating with her in various advocacy efforts made me understand her better, especially her founding of Healing House. None of this prepared me for the week spent with her in Myrtle Beach.
I discovered that Bobbi Jo shops for all 200 participants in the Healing House program for Christmas. She buys essentials such as underpants, socks, pajamas, house shoes, gloves, and hats, reminiscent of what a parent would provide for their children. Each client receives these basic but necessary items, things many of us might have disliked receiving as gifts but actually needed.
But that’s not all. When she found coats on sale for ten dollars each, she bought them, emphasizing, “There’s always someone coming to us with nothing, and I want to make sure they are warm.” Additionally, each person receives clothing. Once again, it’s something many take for granted, yet it’s a fundamental necessity.
During our first shopping trip, the underpants wouldn’t scan, leading the cashier and manager to manually enter each pack, totaling over a hundred packs. Bobbie Jo noticed their agitation and excused herself momentarily. She returned with boxes of sandwiches for the cashiers, expressing gratitude for their assistance with her substantial order. Their surprise and appreciation were evident.
Throughout the week, as she filled cart after cart, she spoke passionately about her work in Kansas City and her gratitude for being able to serve God. Her discussions often revolved around her belief that she was saved to help others, dedicating her whole heart to this endeavor. Indeed, she put her entire being into this service. Whether during meals or drives, she openly discussed her relationship with God, acknowledging her imperfections and her constant endeavor to do better.
Bobbi Jo purchased a considerable amount for her Healing House family that week. In fact, it was so much that we canceled our flight home and instead rented a van to transport everything back. It wasn’t the trip I had in mind, but it was the one I needed and will never forget.
On our first morning in Myrtle Beach, Bobbi Jo read from the book of James: “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” James 2:26. I witnessed firsthand how Bobbi Jo puts her faith into action daily at Healing House. It’s crucial to her that each participant feels a sense of belonging during Christmas while residing at Healing House, transforming it into a true home for the holidays.