Hope City Counseling
Pain and suffering are inevitable. Broken relationships, illness or even the death of a loved one can all fall into your life without warning. How you deal with the pain and finally emerge from it can change the course of your future. Two couples in the River Region want to make sure that families and individuals have somewhere to turn when the pain is more than they can handle alone, offering them hope, healing and an empathy that can only be born out of personally being acquainted with grief.
Richard and Alisa Jones—Hope City Counseling
When Richard and Alisa Jones first considered their future together, counseling was not a part of it. Both graduated from Auburn University—Richard with a degree in building science and Alisa in human development in family studies. Alisa said, “ I knew I loved people and desired to walk alongside them in some capacity.” Her love of people led to several years in youth ministry at Trinity Presbyterian Church. “ Throughout my four years of working with adolescents, I began to sense the need for further education in order to help in a deeper way. I remember telling Richard that I would like to get my master’s degree in counseling. He was incredibly supportive, and the rest is history!” said Alisa. Richard decided to pursue a counseling degree as well. They moved to Orlando to attend Reformed Theological Seminary but always knew they would return to Montgomery. Alisa said, “ We felt that there was a great need for counseling in Montgomery, and we wanted to be a part of meeting that need. Hope City was birthed out of our desire to offer HOPE and healing by offering grace-centeredChristian counseling. We feel too many people are left dealing with the struggles of their life alone. We wanted to offer a nonjudgmental environment where people can begin to process through the stories of their lives in a safe and confidential setting.”
Richard and Alisa know there are unique challenges facing young people everywhere, including in the River Region. Expectations, both internal and external, can cause unbelievable pressure and anxiety. Alisa said,“ The pressure is undeniable! Pressure to excel, to perform, to fit in, to do the right thing. There seems to be a perception about young people that they don’t care about anything other than social media. This isn’t true. Often the presenting behavior of apathy is driven by their perceived inadequate efforts to live up to expectations.” She went on to explain that these perceptions lead to an exhausting way of life—acting one way on the outside and feeling completely differently inside—resulting in self-hatred and depression.
The counselors at Hope City love that they are able to combat some of the pain and brokenness of the people that come to their center. Alisa said, “ We believe humans were created for relationships. Our counselors desire to welcome you and invite you into a therapeutic relationship where God can begin to shed light upon your life. You matter and the story of your life is significant!”
Mike and Rebecca Ellis—The Cole Ellis Foundation
In 2009, the Ellis family was living an incredible life. Rebecca and Mike Ellis had three children, Mike was about to open his own business and Rebecca was working part-time as a registered nurse. Rebecca said, “ We considered it pretty perfect, especially in regards to what culture is communicating to families and teens today. We were very involved in our church, school, sports and spending lots of family time together. Our children were our priority, and we were extremely focused on teaching, guiding and correcting them as they navigated the challenges of middle school and high school.”
Then, on October 26, 2009, the unthinkable happened. Rebecca and Mike’s son, Cole, took his own life. “ Our story of the specifics of Cole’s death would be difficult to put into this article, but the story of our incredible Cole is the reason that we established the Cole Ellis Foundation. Cole was an incredible young man that lived a lot of life in a very short time. He was smart, wise, intense, genuine, kind, athletic, loyal and a leader on and off the field. He was a perfectionist and very sensitive to letting others down. Above everything, he was a Christian,” said Rebecca. When Mike and Rebecca were left to pick up the pieces after Cole’s death, they wanted to reach out to other teens and their families. That is exactly what they do through Cole’s Foundation.
“Young people face challenges that we as adults have absolutely no concept of. The internal struggle and conflicts are overwhelming, and the consequences of their choices are at levels that adults are missing. Everything today is based on instant gratification. They have messages bombarding them 24/7. No matter how hard we try as parents to monitor the information coming into our children’s lives, there is no way to protect them from all of it,” Rebecca said. She also went on to explain that through Cole’s Foundation, they provide a listening ear to struggling teens and their families and also come alongside families who are grieving the loss of a child. They show families that you can’t let the devastation of loss destroy you, but instead should allow God to pick up the broken pieces and use them for good. She said, “ I know Cole would be proud of his momma and daddy! He was always encouraging others to be strong and courageous! He forgot for a moment, so, as his parents, it’s our job to pick up the ball and run with it!”
Hope City Counseling and Cole’s Foundation—Coming Together
With both families having a similar desire to help families, it’s no surprise they found each other and began working together toward their common goals. Alisa Jones said, “ The Ellises have an incredible passion for the health and well-being of individuals. They share our vision for Montgomery to have excellent care for its citizens. When we were preparing for our move back home, we began hearing about a couple who sensed the need for counseling in the area. We met with them for the first time in March of 2015, and a unique partnership was formed. It is an incredible honor for us to play a part in Cole’s legacy as we seek to be a resource for adolescents and adults struggling with mental illness or just the everyday pressures of life.” Rebecca Ellis added, “ After much prayer and discussion, we knew that Richard and Alisa could offer something that Montgomery desperately needed. They have their private practice with Cole’s Foundation partnering with them. We look forward to the growth, services, outreach and education that Hope City will provide, not just for our community, but surrounding areas.”
If you or someone you love needs help, or if you would like to support either of these great organizations, they would be glad to hear from you.
The Cole Ellis Foundation