A little over three years ago, Edmond resident Kaylene Balzer befriended fellow Victory Church member Sharee Land, establishing a connection that would transform both of their lives. It offered Balzer a chance to give back, and it provided Land refuge from a toxic marriage and years of addiction.“It’s meant my life,” Land said.
When Land and her husband broke up, Balzer and her husband invited her to stay with them. There, Land witnessed the kind of healthy lifestyle she aspired to. She asked Balzer for advice, which led to an informal weekly meeting in Balzer’s living room. What started with eight women has evolved into the nonprofit organization Beautiful Restoration, which welcomes between 100 and 150 people each week. It’s also branched out into 20 offshoot groups, including a men’s group, a youth group, and Beautiful Restoration Salvage, which restores furniture to give to members in need. Beautiful Restoration’s members seek help for everything from addiction to mental illness to family dysfunction. The group helps them repair their relationships and get back on their feet through assistance with finding everything from a car to an apartment. However, Balzer said its greatest strength is unconditional love.
“It doesn’t matter who you are, you come in and you are totally accepted,” Balzer said. It’s a sentiment echoed by Land.
“This group of women modeled to me how we each have an individual gift, and then when they come together they’re so powerful because they’re not jealous,” Land said. “They combine their gifts between each other and they encourage each other.”
As the organization outgrew Balzer’s living room, she started looking around for something larger. She found herself drawn to a vacant property just two blocks from her home but learned that the sprawling 17-acre estate had recently been sold. Still, Balzer couldn’t stop thinking about it, and she eventually felt a sense of urgency that compelled her to write to the new owners.
“My letter said I don’t know why I’m contacting you, we just felt this property could be used for our ministry,” Balzer said. “We believe that God wants us to do more than just meet every Thursday night.” Balzer’s letter reached the new owners just 10 days before demolition was scheduled. They offered her a chance to buy the property – provided she could offer them $50,000 in two days. “We knew that Providence stepped in, because had I not sent that letter that week, everything would have been gone,” Balzer said.
Balzer put the word out and donations came rolling in, with the group raising $12,000 more than it needed. However, the group needs to raise the full $1.3 million purchase price by October 4. Restoring the property will likely take another $1.3 million. Balzer hopes to obtain a HUD grant, but with that process taking at least six months, the organization either needs to find an investor or secure enough donations to fund the purchase. She hopes to transform the property into a “whole little village” that includes an events center and community center, as well as temporary housing for members in need. The group is already meeting in the gatekeeper’s house, which provides much-needed space.
As the organization grows, Balzer balances her full-time job as a paralegal with the growing responsibilities of the group. While this leads to a full calendar, it also brings great rewards in the form of witnessing changed lives. “I’ve been a preacher’s kid and a Christian all my life, and I have never been part of a group like this,” Balzer said.
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