For many clients at Jesus House an inner-city, nondenominational Christian outreach serving those battling homelessness, addiction and mental illness playing volleyball is part of their recovery.
The long-term residential facility at 1335 W. Sheridan Ave. features a backyard volleyball court where clients play each weekend.
Its really therapeutic for them, said Grace Luna, Jesus House executive assistant and volunteer coordinator. They get intense with the competition. Its awesome.
Building on that idea, Jesus House hosts its inaugural sand volleyball tournament Friday-Saturday at Lighthouse Sports, Health & Fitness, 3333 W. Hefner Road. The four-on-four, double-elimination tournament starts 6 p.m. Friday and resumes 8 a.m. Saturday. Medals and prizes will go to the top three teams.
This is more than a volleyball tournament. This is making people aware of whats going on in our community, said Michael Bateman, Jesus House executive director.
Luna said a team of Jesus House clients will compete in the tournament and entertainment features booths, food trucks, Thunder Bounce and a DJ.
Its Transitional Goals Program typically lasts seven to 10 months. To enter, clients must be homeless, have an addiction to drugs or alcohol and have a mental illness diagnosis, Bateman said.
The recovery program incorporates a 12-step approach and works with community mental health partners such as NorthCare, Red Rock Behavioral Health Services and Oklahoma County Crisis Intervention Center. The residential facility has 88 beds, 70 for men and 18 for women. A new GED lab is expected to open next month. Bateman said some clients come from as far away as California and New York.
Statistics show that people are becoming addicts at a younger age, he said, and most families are affected by addiction or mental illness.
Founded in 1973, Jesus House also serves about 100,000 meals per year from its soup kitchen and distributes grocery items, clothing and used furniture to those in need. It delivers breakfasts and fellowship to unsheltered homeless and performs community outreach in surrounding low-income neighborhoods.
Luna, 27, remembers being homeless. She moved to Oklahoma City from Florida with her family when she was 15. She had trouble making friends and started using drugs.
After school, she tried college but ended up moving back home. She lied and stole to support her drug habit, and in a show of tough love, her parents asked her to leave the house.
After bouncing from couches to shelters, Luna entered the Jesus House residential program in July 2012 and, after a relapse, completed the program in March 2013.
Former Executive Director Rick Denny gave her a job. Today, she is married, has a 10-month-old daughter and lives in south OKC.
I thank God every day for where I am, and Im so thankful that I get to help people, she said.
Visit jesushouseokc.org or call 232-7164 for more information.
Print headline: Jesus plays, Jesus House hosts its inaugural volleyball tournament fundraiser to address increasing homelessness, addiction and mental health issues.