Saturday, March 09, 2002

Faith Matters

From drugs to God, plus a job

        Sheila Quarles hit bottom. Then the trapdoor opened.

        “There were so many bottoms,” she says. “It was all hell.”

        For a decade, the Corryville woman didn't have a drug of choice. Anything would do.

        Three and a half years ago, she checked into a treatment center, mandated by court after a felony drug arrest. After her release, she went to Jobs Plus Employment Network in Over-the-Rhine.

        The agency has worked since 1994 to break the cycles of poverty. It offers classes on responsibility, punctuality and work ethic. It connects clients with jobs and monitors their progress.

        The folks at Jobs Plus also talk about God's love and redeeming grace. They took Ms. Quarles' picture and gave it to three people to pray for her, for her success and for strength to stay away from drugs.

        “It still blows me away that people would pray for me and care about me when they didn't even know me,” says Ms. Quarles.

        Jobs Plus helped Ms. Quarles get her first job. And it encouraged her to reconnect with God.

        Today, the 37-year-old woman is enrolled in an associate's program for social work at the University of Cincinnati.

        This isn't what she'd always hoped for. When she took drugs, she didn't even dream of a future.

        Ms. Quarles offers her testimonial Sunday to a couple thousand people who will come to hear music, contribute to a good cause and perhaps leave inspired.

        In its fourth year, Sounds for Hope 2002 celebrates the spirit of urban renewal. The program at Music Hall features a 50-piece symphony orchestra, a 130-voice choir with members from 50 area churches, and special music guests.

        Well-known composer and conductor Michael Parks — music director at Hope Evangelical Free Church in Mason — will lead the performance.

        The show benefits three urban, Christian-based programs: CityCURE, City Gospel Mission and Jobs Plus. But the goal is not only to raise money, but also to encourage people to help others who have hit bottom learn how to dream again.

        “When you get involved in being a volunteer,” says Ms. Quarles. “You might not ever know the magnitude of people you've helped to change their lives and better their lives.”

        Tickets are available for the 7 p.m. show, at the door or through Ticketmaster, 513-241-7469. Information:

        The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education needs help establishing a permanent, interactive Holocaust exhibit.

        The exhibit at Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion will be designed like an authentic, 1930s European attic. Its purpose: to get people thinking about what Jewish life was like before the Holocaust destroyed it.

        Donated or loaned items could include suitcases and trunks, stools, chairs, radio, uniforms and paintings.

        Information: 221-1875.

        Join the Friends of Ireland Sunday for the 54th Annual Memorial Mass honoring those whoworked forIreland's freedom and those working for a peaceful settlement in Northern Ireland.

        Mass is 11 a.m. at St. Peter in Chains Cathedral, Eighth and Plum streets, downtown.
       For more religion listings, check out, keyword: events.

       Send religion news to or contact Richelle Thompson at 755-4144.


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