Lauren Mitchell

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One Wednesday evening this past August following our move to Fort Leonard Wood, my husband and I walked into LifePoint, our new home church. We were swiftly and warmly welcomed by a bright-eyed, energetic, gracious woman carrying a small child, her daughter. She led us through the dinner line introducing us to as many as she could, and saved us seats during service next to her and her husband. I was in awe as I watched her worship and heard that uplifting voice of hers sing along to some of my favorite songs. I knew in that moment; this woman was exceptional and would come to find out just how much in the near future.

She mentioned to me she founded and ran an addiction center, but I will admit it took a while for me to really learn exactly what it was she did there and why. As weeks passed, I discovered more about her story and came to learn she was once an elementary school teacher, a passion she adored and missed greatly as the new school year began. Taking a great leap of faith due to the resolve she felt in a very personal mission, she left the educational system and focused her efforts elsewhere: helping the residents of her community understand and recover from one of our nation’s greatest difficulties, addiction. Her own family had been immensely affected by this heartbreak.

Created by Lauren Mitchell and her husband Cory, along with another local couple Brad and Stacy Segebarth, Lane Change Addiction Recovery Outreach and Intervention program was aptly named after a young man close to the Segebarth family succumbed to his war with addiction. Lane Austin was 27 when the final battle took his life, despite his readiness to change. He had been awaiting a bed at an inpatient facility when he overdosed November 2, 2018. It was after this, Lauren decided she desired to do whatever she could to ensure her community had the support and resources they so desperately needed.

“He wanted help, he wanted change, but he ran out of time. We want to help others like Lane. His death was not in vain and we are hoping to use his life to help others receive the help they need. Lane Change was created to encourage life-change through recovery from substance abuse disorder. We are a resource center meeting the needs that drugs have stolen. Undiagnosed and untreated mental health are the gateways to drug abuse. In today’s world however, it’s no longer stay clean or get high; it’s Live or Die. The drugs have changed.”

While fasting and praying about purpose for herself in life, a scripture was spoken to Lauren by God. “The chains mentioned in this scripture are the chains of addiction and I have realized through my work at Lane Change, all of the things listed in this scripture are things that our clients need.”

No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. – Isaiah 58:6-7

The headline featured on the front door reads “Where Hope Begins Jeremiah 29:11.” Walking in, there is a bright, welcoming atmosphere, with a table covered in literature for local programs and resources. A stool underneath bears the words “Lane Change,” with the date of Lane Austin’s overdose underneath. Lauren’s goal is to raise awareness of overdose and understanding of addiction by providing help, outreach, prevention and education via free or low-cost outpatient treatment services, such as trauma counseling and recovery groups, as well as coordination of inpatient treatment. There has also recently been a women’s self-esteem group founded in the office.

Majority of Lane Change’s clients are “at risk” and have been court ordered, or referred to Lane Change by the probation or social service departments. They lack funding to access professional medical services and the organization aims to bridge that gap for community members and their families. They rely on the organization to get the help necessary for a new chance at life. As a non-profit completely supported by donations, fundraisers, and grants, Lane Change would not be able to provide the resources they do without their benefactors within the community. The Segebarth family’s generous donation of financial resources are largely responsible for Lane Change’s ability to get started this past year.

Volunteers such as myself, Crystal Bilyeu and John McGinnis, who man the office on a daily basis, are recovering addicts ourselves, with a desire to connect, mentor, and counsel clients using the trials we’ve faced in our own experiences. We are trained in Narcan administration, should the need ever arise, and participate in the Celebrate Recovery program at LifePoint Church, where Lauren also guides those seeking recovery through the Christ centered program, alongside her husband. They have been active participants for three years, seeking their own hope through Cory’s personal struggles with addiction. A common goal LifePoint and Lane Change share is to support the community with the severity of this opioid epidemic.

This past week, on Thursday December 5, 2019, Lauren and Lane Change were honored when the Lebanon Chamber of Commerce held a ribbon cutting ceremony.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

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