Avon Counseling Group Aiming to Change Lives Everyday
Writer / Melissa Gibson
As director of Sheltering Wings, a home for abused women and children, April Bordeau was constantly looking for Christian counseling for the guests at the facility.
They needed direction on many different aspects of life — financial, emotional, relationship and stress.
“There was a long wait list for counselors that were like-minded, and as Cassie Martin took over as Executive Director, I started working with one of the founders of Sheltering Wings, asking the question, ‘is this something that others are needing as well?’” says Bordeau, Director of Care to Change, a Christian counseling service in Avon.
They asked local churches, businesses and social groups and the answer was unanimous.
“Not a single group said no,” she says.
In 2015, Care to Change opened their doors. Today, they have seven counselors on staff and offer expertise on everything from family, marital, addictions and financial issues.
“We worked with those groups as well as other counselors to identify their best practices and now we have more than 100 clients,” Bordeau says.
Jeff Houvener has been a financial counselor for 13 years through Connection Pointe Christian Church and now works with Care to Change, guiding individuals and couples to financial freedom.
“We believe in the Dave Ramsey approach,” Houvener says.
In fact, Houvener has taken pro-coaching classes through the Ramsey organization and follows his advice in his personal finances. Ramsey has become a leader in Christian financial advice, and many churches and other organizations look to him for a guide on paying off debt and lifestyle changes.
He believes in paying off debt as quickly as possible, while also having savings set aside for an emergency.
He also believes as Houvener says, “credit scores have been sold to the public as a positive thing, but they are actually only a gage to how much debt the individual is in.”
“The number one cause of divorce is financial issues,” Houvener says. “Often, people come in to talk about their marriages and one of the things they need to learn is how to communicate about finances.”
People become tired of living the lifestyle they’ve created.
“They often get caught up in debt consolidation ploys and try to create a budget in which they go ‘cold turkey’ and that in turn, results in failure because it’s not doable,” Houvener says.
For example, a family that regularly eats out will create a budget that doesn’t allow for a single meal dining out, but as days turn to weeks, they discover it doesn’t fit into their lifestyle.
“I see budgets for a family of four that accounts for $200 in groceries and no eating out and that’s just not reasonable,” Houvener says.
He says financial freedom isn’t as easy as paying off debt, either.
“Those kinds of companies paint a picture of a fresh start, but it only works if the behavior changes,” Houvener says.
Houvener’s goal is to send the individual or couple away in the first meeting with hope.
“I think in 13 years, I’ve only advised bankruptcy a handful of times,” he says.
“They can make it work.”
Financial hope isn’t the only kind of hope Bordeau wants to share.
“Hope and freedom is available,” Bordeau says. “We aren’t promoting happiness, we are promoting joy and peace.”
Parents come in looking for help with a wayward teen, couples seek help in their marriage, and individuals look for help in all areas of their lives.
“If you’ve wondered if you should talk to someone about your situation, then you have your answer,” Bordeau says.
Often, seeking help has been suggested or the person feels stuck in their situation. Many misconceptions follow counseling. In society, seeking a counselor is often considered weak and long term.
“Just because you seek counseling doesn’t mean you’ll be there for the rest of your life,” Bordeau says.
The goal is to give the person tools to work through their issue and come out the other side. The cost is discouraging to some. They don’t have the money or time to invest. Bordeau believes it’s just the opposite.
“I think our clients are so brave,” Bordeau says. “It’s a lot easier to drink, smoke, eat or shop away our problems. But these people know they want freedom and they’re willing to fight for it, and we all invest in something. Why not invest in yourself and make a difference in your life?”
The counselors are trained in evidence-based techniques, but all have another component that brings a unique perspective to the experience — they’re all Christians.
“It begins with a heart change. True healing comes in the context of your faith,” Bordeau says. “When people come to us, the story is difficult and emotional, but they aren’t the sum of their past. They begin to see that change is possible and they leave stronger than they’ve ever been before.”
She says what is most rewarding for the staff is knowing they’ve had a part in helping people. She encourages anyone that has considered getting counseling for any issue to remember they are worth it.
“You’re worth making the call, you’re worth that first appointment,” Bordeau says.
Care to change is located at 10080 E. US Highway 36, Suite A, Avon. For more information, visit them online at caretochange.org.