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Jan Vetter

Jan Vetter is a counselor for women in recovery at Union Gospel Mission in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho at Anna Ogden Hall. 
Peacemaker Interview by Hanna Gillingham in April 2014

The women that I work with at Anna Ogden Hall are women who haven't been able to do life on life’s terms. They come and stay there for 18 to 24 months. My job is to counsel women throughout the program. I get a case load of women, and those are the ones that I stay with during their recovery journey. We work on a lot of different issues. Most of the women have had some kind of an addiction. But, most have also had a lot of trauma in their lives. So, we try and work through all of that.

Part of the recovery program at Anna Ogden Hall is training and classes. One of the classes that the ladies go through is called Peacemakers. We work on a lot of conflict resolution. We practice the forgiveness described in Matthew 18. This is the passage where Jesus tells Peter he must forgive seventy-seven times.There tends to be a lot of conflict within the community that these women live in. Through this class, and counseling, we are encouraging them to go to each other to work problems out. Usually, they haven’t developed skills in that kind of conflict resolution yet. We also teach them to bring a neutral third person in to help resolve the problem.

Many of the issues these women are dealing with stem from trauma like domestic violence, abuse, abandonment, or neglect in their family of origin. Life threatening situations can cause someone to be violent to get their needs met. It is common for a woman to have had a trauma, get into an unhealthy relationship, turn to drugs, then get an addiction. So, once the addiction is gone, we are working on all the stuff that led to the addiction.

There is a certain culture within the women who come into our place. There is some hopelessness and helplessness. Additionally, some of the women have come from prison. They probably have a culture, or a sub-culture, that has been impacted by structural violence.

Most of the women in the program come in as a Christian believer, but not all. Those who are Christian are obviously at different levels of maturity. The Union Gospel Mission is also a Christian organization. These religious values inform the way we approach the women’s recovery program.

I work with these ladies because I fell in love with the recovery and relationship piece of my old job. About seven years ago I worked for Ana Ogden Hall in Spokane in the marketing department. Later I ended up back with Union Gospel Mission pursuing my current job as a counselor. Now I am going to school to get my master’s in counseling.