WOMEN OF TRM MINISTRIES
Meet Debra, our Director of the Hope Center. One of the longest serving TRM staff members, Debra came to TRM 22 years ago. She had her own business as a cosmetologist and knew little about homelessness. She remembers telling God she didn’t want to be a cosmetologist for the rest of her life, and she began seeking Him to see what else might be in store for her.
One night a TRM staff member found her at church and told her, “Go to Topeka Rescue Mission. They have a job for you.” She didn’t know anything about TRM except for the cross on top of the building that says “Jesus Saves”. Battling health issues and uncertainty, it took her two weeks to come to TRM, but she told the Lord, “Let me just get there and see what’s going on.” She came to TRM knowing nothing but her love for Christ, His love for His people, and His love for her.
She met with the director of the Distribution Center, who hired her on the spot. The Lord gave her a mandate in Micah 6:8 -“What does the Lord require of you? To do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” It became her mantra as she walked forward in faith in her new role working for TRM. She began working the front desk of the Hope Center and filled a variety of roles within TRM before finally becoming the Director of the Hope Center. Now she manages the busy operations of a shelter that houses hundreds of different women, children and families annually.
When asked what motivates her to keep going even when things get tough, she says: “One of the main things is my personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ...and going hand in glove, I love His people. I can’t take credit for it, because we know the love that we have is the love that He gives. I can only love with the love that He gives me. I don’t care how uncomfortable it is...when we read the Word, the people of God were uncomfortable. There was nothing comfortable about what God called them to do. I believe that is the same for the modern day church or believer. It’s not an easy walk.”
She goes on to say, “I really believe the ministry of rescue is amazing. There are so many facets to it, and you can’t box them in...You have a foundation, but it doesn’t look the same for everybody. That’s one of the major things I have learned. The love and compassion are the same.”
Debra, THANK YOU for faithfully serving at TRM for 22 years!
Another key staff member is Libby, who came to TRM eight years ago after finishing pastoral training. She had retired from a job at the State of Kansas and believed God was leading her to become a pastor of a small church. She remembers telling Him, “Okay God, this is what’s next.” But for some reason, God began waking her up at 3 AM every night for a period of several weeks. She remembers waking up one night and hearing a very clear voice say, “Call Barry Feaker”. She had never heard anything about TRM and knew little about Barry. She tried to discount it as just a random occurrence, but she couldn’t stop thinking about that voice telling her to call Barry.
Eventually, despite her uncertainty, she called the main number at TRM and asked, “Do you need any help?” She was quickly placed into a volunteer position at the Distribution Center and worked there for a year before transitioning into a paid staff position. She has worked in several roles at TRM and now serves as the IT coordinator and business office assistant, working faithfully behind the scenes to ensure daily operations at TRM run as smoothly as possible.
At 71 years old, sometimes people ask why she’s still working at her age. But she believes it isn’t work, it’s ministry. She says, “I think my calling is to serve. Whatever it is, whoever walks through the door, whatever the next need is...It’s overwhelming at times, the people who come to us. Maybe no one in their life has ever told them they are valued. A woman I used to mentor, who came to my morning prayer groups at the Hope Center, had been an alcoholic and lost her daughters. It brought her great sadness. She told me that her prayer was reconciliation with her family but she believed it would never happen. I looked her in the eye and said, ‘Forever is a long time. I don’t believe that God intends for you to never be reconciled.’ Now she’s working, is successful, isn’t drinking, and her entire family is reconciled to her. It makes my heart happy that God answered her prayer.”
THANK YOU Libby for following your calling and ministering to those in need at TRM!
Another valuable asset at TRM is Haleigh, who came to TRM from Indiana almost a year ago and now works with our community’s unsheltered homeless. She grew up on a small farm and spent most of her time playing sports, and in her senior year of high school received a scholarship to play basketball in college.
She didn’t know God, but found herself at a Christian college after a teacher asked what she wanted to do with the next chapter of her life. With some hardships going on at home and feeling a growing emptiness, she realized there had to be more to life than sports and she wanted to learn more about God.
Growing up her family didn’t go to church or talk about God, and many people had doubts about her leaving her home to move to a Christian college in Kansas. She found herself heading nine hours from home and thinking, “God, I hope you’re real, because I’m leaving everything I know.” She gave her life to Christ in her sophomore year of college and was placed in an internship with TRM.
After completing her internship she was hired to take on a position on the Street Reach team. Haleigh is a valuable member of the Street Reach team that goes out into the community multiple days a week to locate unsheltered individuals and bring them compassion, services, and hope.
When asked what keeps her going even during the trials of the pandemic and increasing numbers of unsheltered homeless, she says, “One of my mentors said to me, ‘Haleigh, if teams like yours quit fighting for these people, who is going to do it?’ Hearing that line is the motivator. I would say that for the whole team: we care so much about these people. God didn’t give up on me and I finally found Him. I think so many people feel too far gone, and we get to tell them the truth.”
Her family has followed in her footsteps, many of them giving their lives to Christ. She says, “All glory to God - it’s only Him. The idea of me saying my little brother is going to church now, I never thought I’d say that for any of my immediate family.”
THANK YOU Haleigh for becoming a valued member of the TRM family and making a huge difference in the lives of the unsheltered!
These are just a few of the many women who serve faithfully and tirelessly at TRM, working every day to bring hope to anyone in need. We are grateful to God for leading them to us, and we celebrate the incredible power of all our female staff members and the work they do. We thank them, and we thank you for coming alongside us and offering your support, prayers and encouragement. We could not do it without you. Thank you for helping us make a difference!
As Barry Feaker, Executive Director of the Topeka Rescue Mission approaches his 36th year of service to those experiencing homelessness and poverty in the greater Topeka Community, he has decided the time has come for the next generation of leadership to help TRM continue to grow and advance in its mission to address the ever-changing landscape of homelessness and poverty. In Spring of 2021, to enhance TRM operations while addressing the increasing complex needs of those we serve, a new position was created, Senior Director of Ministry Operations. La Manda Broyles, at the time a principal for Topeka Public Schools and volunteer TRM board member, felt called to leave both positions and was hired for the new position. Her leadership experience, strong belief in the mission and Christ-centered focus of TRM, along with knowing she had been called to this ministry made her the perfect fit and she joined the team in June 2021, focused on advancing the work of TRM.
After significant examination regarding succession planning and discernment related to the future of the organization, the TRM board of directors unanimously voted at the December 2021 board meeting to initiate the leadership transition and promote La Manda into the position of Executive Director for TRM effective Spring of 2022.
We invite you to join TRM as we spend time in prayer for this transition and the work God has called us to, helping assist those who are homeless and impoverished. If you have questions, please call (785) 354-1744 ext. 315 or email us. Tune into our podcast “Our Community, Our Mission” or check out our April newsletter to hear more about the transition and Barry’s time here at TRM. Save the date: Reception for Barry, April 22nd. More information to come!