by Tom Sims
Bethany Byrd started 5 Stones Open Door after seeing five of her friends die as a result of abuse. That abuse took several forms over the years, each of which is addressed by the non-profit organization she founded several years ago. They became the five stones of an outreach to people whose lives have been touched by domestic violence, sexual assault, and human trafficking.
Bethany is the organization’s Executive Director and Founder. She has spent most of her life working with children and youth as a preschool teacher, an after-school program leader, and an administrator for a youth mentoring organization. She is a graduate of Fresno Pacific University and a life-long learner. Bethany has said that “Creating the faith-based nonprofit, 5 Stones Open Door is the best journey of her life!”
She sensed the call of God to do this work in 2018. She put together a plan to reach both victims and perpetrators as well as vulnerable young people through small groups, classes, and Bethany mentoring. Because the need is complex, the solution must also be multi-faceted and address addiction, health, wellness, tutoring, and job readiness. There are also connections to chronic and intermittent homelessness.
Your Choice 4 Life
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Bethany encourages participants to share their stories. This, she says, “may appear overwhelming, however in our group sessions we invite God in and all things become possible.” God is at the center of the program. “He’s got this. Just walk through the Open Door into God’s plans for your future, a future of hope, no longer defined by what happened,” says Bethany.
5 Stones Open Door is informed by the insights of ACEs training (Adverse Childhood Experiences). This training has prepared 5 Stones facilitators to recognize toxic stress, do screening and risk assessment, and provide evidence-based care to effectively intervene on toxic stress. ACE, according to Bethany, “considers how early life experiences of trauma, neglect, and abuse, affect our body, mind, and soul with adverse reactions in relationships and in our physical health.” To intervene, 5 Stones Open Door offers “a resilience approach that supports the ability to strive in life despite our circumstances.”
Everyone offering classes is a trained Christian facilitator. ACE training prepares facilitators to:
1. Identify adverse experiences that can impact on a child’s development and their response to stress.
2. Understand the importance of brain development in early years of life. What happens early effects the rest of a child’s life and leaves an impact upon his or her brain development.
3. Understand that experiencing adversity in childhood can mark a person’s life and alter its course related to health and wellbeing.
4. Recognize the social, medical, health, social, and community impact of early trauma.
5. Learn some protective factors that can help prevent trauma and build resilience.
6. Practice viewing children’s experience through a “trauma-informed lens.”
7. Personally build resilience and learn to help children and adults do the same.
5 Stones Open Door is currently working out of Selma, at 2606 Shaft Street, but has offered classes and groups in Fresno and online. Call (559) 528-8524 for the latest schedule.
Stones Open Door, a Faith-based 501c3 organization, offers group sessions and classes for those who have experienced trauma, neglect, and abuse. Their mission is: “To transform lives by, Supporting, Teaching, Outfitting, and Preventing future abuse through group sessions, classes and job training.” To support this work, donations are welcome, and supporters can give on the web site.
Also, the organization will soon be launching an entrepreneurial venture designed to earn funds for the program and also train people in job skills. “Community Good Coffee Company Coming Soon,” is how the headline reads. “Why choose our coffee?” Bethany says, “The reasons are clear. We are experts in great coffee from coffee choices, flavors, and brewing methods that provide the best coffee experience you deserve from the coffee you drink.”
The organization recognizes that coffee choice and brewing methods matter to people, so they chose this as an earned income outlet. “One reason is that many of our customers wanted rich flavor without the bitterness they often experience from conventionally roasted coffee. We began searching for a roasting solution to that bitter experience and something we would proudly put our label on. We discovered an air-roasted coffee out of Massachusetts. Our Air Roasted coffee is labeled Risen coffee. We also offer customers a conventionally roasted coffee rich in flavor from our roasters in Virginia with our Community Good Coffee Company label.”
These companies offer the quality that 5 Stones Open Door wishes to represent and because of their corporate values, “We wanted to use our profits to support our nonprofit 5 Stones Open Door in doing good in the community.”
As an extension of that, the organization has put forth the theme: Recipes 4 Change. “5 Stones Open Door has adopted the mindset of moving from seeing others as a “problem” to addressing the “problem” itself. We are creating the Selma community-powered “Recipes 4 Change.”
Bethany says, “We believe that through our work experience programs, mentoring groups, and other integrated existing community programs, we can reimagine gang violence, homelessness, criminal activity, and youth leaders. As an organization, we started looking at the glass of opportunity that exists when problems exist, and we started asking ourselves, why not us? Collectively as an organization, we understand that nothing has ever changed by complaining, and problems only change, with a mindset that focuses on community-invested ideas and people. 5 Stones Open Door offers skillsets for job readiness through hands-on training in our culinary garden, through our Community Good Coffee Company, and through attendance in our group sessions.”
Bethany notes that it is the organization’s goal and hers to be “always guided through the leadership of Jesus Christ.”
“What we know is that 5 Stones Open Door is created with a heart for those who are hurting, troubled, and traumatized. We want to hear you through your voice, see you for who you were created to be, and affirmed, that yes, it happened to you, but it is not who you are.”