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Restoration House founder helps struggling women

By Jennifer Lee Preyss
March 19, 2012 at 8:04 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2012 at 10:19 p.m.

Crystalmarie Moreno, right, raises her hand and laughs as Theresa Klacman, founder of Restoration House Ministries, makes a joke about one of the women in the program during a fundraiser Saturday at Faith Family Church. Moreno, as well as Jennifer Young, left, and Tammy Radke, center, contributed to the event and shared how their involvement in the program has brought them closer to God and has changed their lives for the better.

When Theresa Klacman moved away from Victoria more than 20 years ago, she swore she'd never return.

The city was seeped in memories of an abusive past, and the residual emotional torment from years of sexual and physical molestation.

But after years of running away - battling depression, suicidal thoughts, abusive relationships and alcohol binges - the Restoration House Ministries founder learned that God had a different plan for her life. That plan, years later, would include opening a faith-based home for Victoria women who were struggling with similar pain, and in need of emotional and spiritual restoration.

A few years before Restoration House opened its doors in 2009, Klacman herself, journeyed through the restoration process that became the impetus for her ministry.

Still living in Austin, working as a bookkeeper, Klacman hit an emotional low that included two attempts at taking her own life.

"I cried out to God and decided to fast for a week. I was desperate. I wanted to die," Klacman said. "At the end of the week, I got an idea to move back to Victoria. And I said, 'But I don't want to move to Victoria. There's no way!'"

After wrestling with the idea, Klacman told God she'd move back on three conditions: She'd have to sell her Austin home, which was upside down in lender debt; her daughter, Amnysti Cavazos, also had to move to Victoria, and the mother-daughter pair had to find an independent living arrangement away from family.

So when Klacman approached her daughter about moving to Victoria, she was surprised to hear Cavazos' immediate response was, "I hear they have a good college there."

"I wanted to be able to blame it on my daughter that we weren't moving back," Klacman giggled. "I never thought she'd want to come here."

Then Klacman's home, which a handful of realtors said would be impossible to sell, sold in two weeks after she posted it on Craigslist.

"In the first two weeks, we had two offers on the house," she said. "I sold it for $10,000 more than it was worth and ended up making a $3,000 profit."

During the relocation process, Klacman said a former bookkeeping client who owed her money, decided to pay down some of his debt by allowing Klacman and her daughter to live rent free in his vacant Victoria home.

"The three things I asked for, God got them for me," Klacman said. "But I didn't think he was moving me here to heal me. I thought I'd move home and everything would be in order for me to die. I knew if I died, everyone would be OK."

Klacman and her daughter returned in 2006, and she said she continued to battle suicidal thoughts and depression. But she started going back to church at Faith Family, and soon found a fixer-upper home that she was interested in restoring.

The home she purchased for about $21,000 would eventually become Restoration House Ministries, a safe home for struggling women to live rent-free, while receiving Bible-based counseling.

A few months after Klacman moved into the home, she felt God leading her to dedicate one year of her life to serving him.

"I gave up talking to men, and watching television, which was a real addiction for me. I wasn't allowed to smoke, and I couldn't eat out. Those were the stipulations for serving him that year," she said. "It was amazing. As I was restoring the inside of the house, God was restoring me."

She worked part time as a bookkeeper, and spent the rest of her time studying scripture and working on her personal well-being.

"With no television, I read a lot of books about God," she said. "And before the year was over, I heard God telling me I was no longer broken."

It was about that time that Klacman was introduced to Jennifer Martinez at Faith Family, who would later become the first girl to live at Restoration House.

"I was going through the aftermath of a divorce. I was a mess. Child Protective Services was trying take my baby away. I was going to do what I wanted to do, when I wanted to do it," Martinez said. "I met Theresa and we went out to lunch, and a week later, my daughter and I moved in with her. She didn't know me from a hole in the wall."

A few weeks later, another struggling woman moved in, and soon Klacman's house was filling up with temporary housemates.

"We didn't have the structure then for the programs, like we do now, but there were basic rules like no drinking, no drugging, no men," Klacman said. "I basically told them I can help you get your life back on track."

Martinez lived in the home for more than a year, and exited with a restored heart to do great things for God, she said. She's now working as Restoration House's public relations representative.

"I'd probably be dead in a ditch somewhere with my kids with CPS if Theresa hadn't invited me to live with her," Martinez said. "I'm completely restored now. I have good boundaries with people. I have peace."

Klacman eventually moved out of the home, and dedicates the space entirely to women who need restoration and guidance.

"Once they're healed, they go out into the community, and they're productive members of society," Klacman said.

On Saturday, Restoration House Ministries hosted its first 1,000 Women Strong Awareness Vendor Fair, which aims to find 1,000 Crossroads women willing to donate $10 per month to the home.

"That's less than getting your toes done," Martinez said. "If we can get 1,000 people to donate $10, we can have funding for these girls to get the help they need."

Klacman never envisioned her once-suicidal attitude, lukewarm interest in Christ, and disinterest in female relationships, would grow into lifelong commitment of serving God and helping struggling women restore their lives.

"I've learned about forgiveness and love and that my security is with Jesus. I would never go back - I couldn't survive," she said.



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