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The Women of Grand Rapids, They Deserve This.

Elisha and Tori in a meeting

Elisha Ash is all too familiar with the challenges for women in addiction — the desperation of family survival in poverty, the vulnerability to violence, the despair and the life of “controlled chaos.”

She never expected that growing up as the daughter of two Pentecostal ministers. But she survived all that and more. And her hard-earned recovery and 15 years of sobriety have strengthened her faith and fostered a new relationship with God.

“The God that I have in recovery is more real and tangible to me,” she said. “My God is compassionate, understanding, loving, all-encompassing, and embracing. He knew who I was, and how perfectly imperfect I was, the second that I was brought into the earth. He didn’t make me an addict or an alcoholic. He didn’t make these horrible things happen to me. God carried me through these horrible things so I could do his work on the other side.”

And that is exactly what she has been doing: using her own experience to help discover the renewed life that is possible “on the other side.”

Now she is helping to write the next chapter of Guiding Light’s 95-year history, as our new women’s program manager. In many ways, it’s a dream come true for her.

For years while working in the community helping poor people find recovery, Elisha had often said to herself, “I wish Guiding Light did something for women. I wish we had a strong women’s recovery program in Grand Rapids.”

Then, in 2023, as if in answer to her prayers, Guiding Light opened two sober-living homes for women. And this summer, we are launching a recovery program for women based on the success of our men’s program.

We are taking the same approach with women because it works: All their needs will be provided for, including food, shelter, spiritual guidance, life coaching, physical fitness. The program is long-term, relational, and 100% free to participants.

It was exactly the opportunity Elisha wanted to see for women in this community. So she jumped at the chance to join Guiding Light.

“This need has been there for so long, and to have the opportunity to be part of it is life-changing,” she said. “Life changing. I don’t know if I have ever felt both more excited and humbled at the same time. It’s so exciting, and the women of Grand Rapids, they deserve this.”

Elisha sees the addition of a women’s recovery program as a historic moment not just for Guiding Light, but for the region we serve.

“This can move recovery forward in West Michigan. Guiding Light will be the benchmark, the standard of where we would like to see recovery — long-term, focused, committed, passionate. People who really are invested in helping and changing lives.”

Elisha knows firsthand how hard that work is, especially for women. In her own recovery, she faced the complicating challenges of being a single mom and a woman of color. But she also knows how rewarding it is to push through — and how inspiring it is to help others do the same.

“A lot of blessings have come from just sticking it out, working through the process of getting sober, staying sober, getting healthy,” she said. “I love working in recovery. I love seeing other people walk that journey and get to the other side.”

Grateful that now more women will be able to walk that journey, Elisha wants donors to understand the historic accomplishment they have made possible with women’s recovery. “As somebody who once was jobless, penniless and hopeless, this is amazing, and it’s going to change someone’s life forever. You’ve given women the opportunity to be mothers again — real, honest-to-goodness, present parents. And to be great partners. You’re empowering an entire generation and generations to come of strong, capable, employable women who are going to make this Grand Rapids landscape something different, something way better than it has been in the past.”


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