Meet the Humans of the Keys

Meet the Humans of the Keys

Monday, November 23, 2015

The Rev. Dr. Pamela Feeser CPC


The Rev. Dr. Pamela Feeser CPC

I’ve been in the Keys for 16 years. The Bishop sent me down here. I’m a United Methodist Pastor. In June of 1999 the Bishop sent me down to serve Burton Methodist Church. I was there for a while, but then I decided to work on my doctorate.

I have always worked in domestic violence. My dissertation was on developing an organization that was solely preventative against domestic violence, which developed into training programs for community leadership, especially clergy leadership. The church is well known for intending to give good, helpful messages but not realizing how those messages come across to abused women and abused men. Messages such as “Humble yourself” can be difficult and hurtful to someone being abused. And there is the fact that in most of the illustrations used in sermons the hero is always a male. I talk to pastors about that and try to help them learn about women that can be the heroes. And we don’t even have to make them up!

Also things like “Until death do you part.” That’s a biggie. People think that when they get married they have to put up with abuse because of their vows. But God has never supported or defended violence or abuse in any form. A vow doesn’t mean you have to stay there to be abused. The contract or covenant was broken by the abuser when they chose to abuse. You aren’t the one breaking the contract when you file for divorce; the abuser has already done that. But it’s interesting to me that even a lot of pastors miss that one.

Another big one is that sometimes the abused woman is not ready to leave. The statistics are that it takes 7 times…they will go back 7 times before they finally leave. Sometimes those of us looking in from the outside, trying to help by trying to force them to leave, are actually doing the exact same thing that the abuser is doing to them. These are the kinds of things we are trying to teach to the clergy. So far I have trained over 400 clergy, and if even a few implement changes to their ministry then I have succeeded.

The organization that I created is DOLPHINS to Stop Domestic Violence, Inc. Livings Springs Counseling is a DBA under that. And then I have another DBA called Living Waters Rx Program, helping upper Keys residents who can’t afford medication. Every penny of that money comes from this community. Last year the donations were over $5,000. This year, we barely have $1,000 going into 2016. With the cost of medications these days, that won’t go far. So, for the first time I have applied for grants. But, it’s usually around Christmas time that the donations really come in, so I’m hopeful the number will go up. I’m hoping maybe people who read this article will help. They can make checks payable to Living Waters Rx Project and send it to “34 Pirates Drive, Key Largo 33037.” It is tax deductible, so if people make sure to put their address with the donation they will immediately get something back for tax purposes. This is something I would so appreciate. We started in 2009 with $500 and each year we have added at least $1,000 to what we give out. Every penny of it is given out.

Coral Isle Church lets me run Living Springs Counseling out of their Chapel which is behind the MARC store. Most of my clients can’t afford to pay, so I don’t charge them. But what I’ve found is it does come back around. In the beginning, none of my clients made enough money to pay me. But, after working with them for a while, they were able to get better jobs and then they really wanted to start paying for their counseling. It will be a while before I actually make any income from it, but it does keep the program going and gives me enough to tithe this church for my space…my corner! For clients who can pay something, I use a generous sliding scale. I’m about to start a group called “Getting Through the Holidays.” It’s for people having a hard time dealing with the days from Thanksgiving on through the New Year every Tuesday from 6-7. Keeping mentally healthy is important. I’m also a certified pastoral counselor (CPC), so if the people are open to it, I also deal with their faith issues.

One of the things I noticed from the start of forming Living Springs Counseling was how much I love to sit with people and hear what is going on in their lives, and the honor of having them invite me to help them through difficult times. And the shock when I actually do! No, seriously, it is a blessing; because I pray for my clients, every one of them. What I do, I do in God’s name. And God blesses that and I see those blessings in my life and the lives of my clients. But sometimes it still surprises me. It makes my day!

I’ve been told that addiction is 5 times the national average in the Keys, as well as domestic violence and suicide both being higher than average down here. Many think that moving to paradise will solve their problems. The truth is that geographic solutions don’t provide healing. Our community clearly struggles with addiction and more. I love our community. I have chosen to stay here in the Keys. United Methodist pastors are known to move around, but I have chosen to stay here. The Bishop will not be moving me. I am endorsed as a CPC and the Bishop has appointed me to serve our community through Living Springs Counselor. So, here I am in my little corner! (Pam’s office is in the corner of the Chapel) The reason I got certified is because I realized that this is the way in which God is calling me. I could have gone up to the mainland and had a really nice office. But, I love this community regardless of what struggles we may be living with and working through. I feel sad. I feel sorry. And I want to be a part of the solution.

There are so many good people down here. I work with a group fighting poverty, and a group of pastors from around town helping the homeless. We are trying to help our neighbors find a way to live the lives God intended them to live without being hungry or homeless. Hunger, homelessness, addiction or anything that affects the community is a community issue. We can all do our part in working toward a solution.

On a personal note, I love the gift of music; I play flute. I’m in the community band for Key Largo and I also have the Keys Pipers which is a flute choir and we go piping around town at Christmas time. This year you’ll be able to find us all over the place on December 5. I absolutely love my husband. He is the best husband you could ask for, the one you dream of as a child. We’ve been married almost 5 years. He has turned our yard into a permaculture garden. We have 56 fruit and vegetable trees in our yard. The vegetable tree is a moringa tree, sometimes called the miracle tree. It is amazing! This year I planted sweet potatoes. They taste so good! Everything we grow is organic. The mosquito sprayer is even nice enough to stop spraying when he goes by our yard! I spray garlic juice around the yard for mosquitos, fleas and ticks. I am incredibly happy and content. This is my home.

For more information about DOLPHINS, Living Springs Counseling and Living Waters Rx Program, visit Pam’s Place at http://pamfeeser.blogspot.com/.


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