Shelly Wims is a role model for people who are struggling with alcohol and other drug addictions. She draws heavily upon her life experience to show others the path to recovery and to educate various sectors of the community on how they can assist rather than hinder people who need a second chance.
On her journey to becoming a counselor, Shelly always took on projects and jobs that involved helping others. Prior to becoming a counselor, she was a residential technician at Bridgeway Behavioral Health, a program development coordinator for the Center for Women in Transition, and a case manager and program development coordinator for the Missouri Bootheel Regional Consortium/Missouri Bootheel Healthy Start. She volunteered her time as an Advisory Council member for Committed Caring Faith Communities (CCFC), the statewide interfaith organizations that credentials recovery support service providers for the Missouri Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse. Ultimately, she became an instructor for CCFC is instrumental in helping to educate clergy and lay leaders from throughout Missouri on how to work effectively to support offenders re-entering society from prison. Shelly later became a member of CCFC Board of Directors and is now the Executive Director of CCFC. Shelly served on the Board of Directors for MRN (Missouri Recovery Network) a statewide board for the state of Missouri.
Shelly played a key role in establishing the recovery support program at her church – Compassionate Ministries Fellowship in Florissant, Missouri. Upon assuming her role as director of the church’s Access to Recovery program, she coordinated several very successful educational workshops and activities for congregation members and the community-at-large. In addition, Shelly serves on MERRGE (Missouri Eastern Region Re-entry Group Effort), and she has served on several steering committees for HIV/AIDS and substance abuse prevention projects developed by the Missouri Institute of Mental Health (MIMH) and the Department of Mental Health (DMH).
Shelly worked for 7 years as a counselor at Gateway Foundation, Inc. in St. Louis where she helps ex-offenders find the path to recovery. Shelly currently works as a counselor for Bridgeway Behavioral Health/Preferred Family Healthcare overseeing the Milestones Re-entry Program. Shelly works part time for Mission Gate Christian Ministry as a counselor for offenders transitioning from the criminal justice system.
Shelly’s educational background includes a Master’s of Arts (MA) Degree in Nonprofit Administration from Lindenwood University (August 2016), Master’s of Arts (MA) Degree in Professional Counseling from Lindenwood University (May 2014) and currently working on obtaining her licensure as a Professional Counselor, Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Theology from In Christ International Bible College (June 2014) and a Bachelor in General Studies and Business Administration from Southeast Missouri State University in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. Shelly is currently a Doctoral student at Lindenwood University pursuing her Doctorate Degree in Education with a focus in Management and Educational Leadership.
Shelly continues to take on new endeavors to help people who are addicted or incarcerated. She is the voice for many who are unable to speak for themselves and she is determined to make the most of each day making a difference in the lives that she touches. Shelly has made significant contributions to the community. She exhibits what is possible when someone is given a second chance.
Intentionally equipping faith organizations in their substance use prevention, addiction, and recovery ministries as they change and save lives.
Faith organizations destroying the cycle of addiction.
We stand in the gap to empower faith organizations to lead the charge for wholeness in families and communities by promoting spirituality, creating awareness, and providing education and training.
In 1993, St. Louis became one of 10 cities to take part in a national substance abuse treatment demonstration program called Target Cities. The program, which was funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Treatment of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), sought to test strategies that would increase access to treatment; improve the effectiveness of addiction treatment; and foster coordination among treatment, recovery support programs and related health service providers. Recognizing the value of the faith community in improving the treatment delivery system, SAMHSA established substance abuse faith initiatives in the Target Cities sites which, in addition to St. Louis, included Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Detroit, Miami, New Orleans, Newark, Portland, and San Francisco. Over the years, each of the faith initiatives faded, leaving today only the ones in Missouri and Texas. This is the story of Committed Caring Faith Communities (CCFC).
How It All Began
When Daphne Walker-Thoth and Kimberly Kayira of the Missouri Department of Mental Health convened a clergy meeting on December 7, 1995, there were only a handful of faith leaders in St. Louis who were actively involved in serving people who were struggling with alcohol and other drug problems. Faith leaders who attended the meeting were amazed to find that there were others doing similar work and formed an immediate bond. At that first meeting were Rev. George White, Jr. of West End Mount Carmel Baptist Church, Rev. C.V. Smith of Progressive Missionary Baptist Church, Dr. Ed MacAlmon of the Salvation Army, Lisa Verseput of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse (NCADA), and Brother Gregory Purnell of Transformation Christian Church. From that meeting, the St. Louis Substance Abuse Faith Initiative was formed. One of its first activities was to co-host a clergy conference on substance abuse with NCADA. A group of 20 emerged from the conference and named the faith initiative Committed Caring Faith Communities or CCFC for short.
Retired Acting Executive Director/Board Chair
As a newspaper reporter in the late 1970s, Daphne Walker-Thoth witnessed the devastation caused by alcohol and other drug addiction on families and communities. God placed in her heart the desire to do more than write about the anguish and despair caused by this disease. She sought opportunities to prevent substance abuse. As the director of the Community Partnership of University City for the Prevention of Substance Abuse, she and her team brought together parents, youth, police officials, elected officials, media representatives, neighborhood associations, schools, businesses, and others to develop and implement a community-wide plan to prevent substance abuse. Subsequently, she was selected by the Missouri Department of Mental Health’s Division of Alcohol and Drug Abuse to serve as project manager of a multi-million dollar federal Target Cities initiative designed to improve the substance abuse treatment delivery system in St. Louis. As part of Target Cities, she and LaToshia Boyd-Lee formed the St. Louis Substance Abuse Faith Initiative Committee which eventually spread throughout the state and become an independent 501©3 tax-exempt not-for-profit organization known as Committed Caring Faith Communities (CCFC).
Target Cities uncovered Daphne’s passion and heightened her belief that the faith community has a major role to play in substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support and their related issues. She has received numerous awards for her work in establishing Missouri’s statewide substance abuse faith initiative. Daphne was eventually employed as a faculty research associate for the Missouri Institute of Mental Health where she continued her work with the faith community for the 10 years she was there. She has served as volunteer acting executive director, executive director, chair of the board, and vice-chair/secretary of the board for CCFC. In August 2013 the title of Retired Substance Abuse Counselor Emeritus was bestowed upon Daphne by the Missouri Substance Abuse Professional Credentialing Board. One of the highlights of her career was being invited to speak at the White House in 2008 as part of a national panel on building the capacity of faith and community-based organizations to address social service issues.
Daphne is the proud mother of two adult children – Aaron Walker of Dallas, Texas and Candace Thoth of Honolulu, Hawaii. She holds a master’s degree in education with an emphasis on counseling from the University of Missouri – St. Louis and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Truman University in Kirksville. She is a member of Christ Community United Methodist Church in Jennings under the pastorship of Michelle McClendon McGhee where she serves as a lay speaker. In addition, she is chair of the Ministry Grants & Awards Committee of the United Methodist Gateway Board for Mission and Growth.
Daphne has always believed that it only takes a handful of people to make things happen. Her favorite quote is by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
CCFC’s First Board of Directors
CCFC’s mission was to build a community of spiritual healing by empowering and supporting faith organization in their service to people suffering from substance abuse, addiction, and related problems through awareness, education, and training. Its motto was “Be the peace you seek.” CCFC understood that the faith community had the vocabulary, the influence, and the knowledge to be a primary force in organizing communities to help the suffering addict, to prevent the future addict, to support the recovering addict. CCFC strived to help the faith community mobilize the resources for recovery and prevention that were already in place and to provide new wells to draw upon for the healing of wounded souls. In 1999, CCFC’s territory was enlarged to encompass the entire state of Missouri.
Dynamic leadership was one of the reasons the St. Louis Substance Abuse Faith Initiative survived while others fell to the wayside. Rev. C.V. Smith served as the organization’s first chairman of the board followed by Bishop George White, Jr., Rabbi James Stone Goodman, The Rev. Dr. John N. Doggett, Jr., Daphne Walker-Thoth and Rev. Isaac C. McCullough
CCFC’s Key Projects and Activities
These are some of the major projects that we have created since our founding in 1995:
• Addictions Academy of MissouriTM, a 32-hour course on substance abuse for the faith community. Coordinator: Glenda D. McCullough.
• Camp Family Re-Union, an inter-denominational weekend camping excursion designed to help children and their recovering parent(s) reconnect and explore healthy ways to relate to one another.
• Recovery Revival, a celebration of the joy in recovery that also affords addicted individuals the opportunity to seek the help needed to transform their lives.
• First Step, a pre-treatment program developed by CCFC and NCADA and piloted by West End Mount Carmel Baptist Church. Designed to provide outreach services to people on the waiting list for treatment.
• Wise Up, a tobacco awareness prevention program for youth.
• The Missouri Faith Community Substance Abuse Resource Network, a statewide association of faith and community-based providers of substance abuse prevention, intervention, treatment, and recovery support services.
• Annual Grant Writing Workshop for Faith Organizations.
• Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) Training, CCFC was one of the first MHFA trainers in the state and for several years conducted workshops for faith-based, community, and agencies.
• Girls Holla Back! Replication Training, CCFC worked with the Missouri Institute of Mental Health )MIMH) to train faith organizations in St. Louis and Kansas City to deliver MIMH’s award-winning intergenerational HIV and substance abuse prevention program.
• Faith-Based Conferences on Substance Abuse, these conferences attracted participants from as far away as Sydney, Australia and the Republic of Palau in the South Pacific.
• Strategic Planning, hands-on assistance to faith and community-based organizations that are just starting or established organizations attempting to go to the next level.
• B-4-Boys (Building Bonds Between Boys and Men), a culturally-specific gender-based substance abuse prevention and mental health counseling intervention for African American boys designed to lessen the effects of racial and ethnic disparities.