Building a Cornerstone of Our Community

If you could help your neighbors for less than the price of Netflix Streaming service charge or for less than two Grande’s at the local specialty coffee house and/or less than three gallons of gas – wouldn’t you?

“I know it’s not a lot,” but many hands make short work, “and that is all it’s going to take if 600 people decide to donate $10 per month for one year for us to not only continue what we’ve been doing but expand and meet the needs here in Kern County,” Counselor and President of Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship Pastor Joshua Pierce said encouragingly.

Born and raised in Tehachapi, Pierce decided to come home, after earning his master’s in divinity, to pastor to others, by, in part, “opening an addiction center that will help those with drug addiction here in the Tehachapi Valley,” Pierce said. “And I figured opening a nonprofit Christian counseling ministry, here in my home town, was my best way to honor my calling and my community.”

JoshConerstone

Over the last year, the Cornerstone Center for Counseling and Discipleship has been providing low-cost counseling and personal development seminars to the Tehachapi Community and others in Kern County. But it is time to move forward.

The county is far from immune to the every-growing use, abuse and overdoses associated with opioids – drugs that have addictive properties as well as physiological effects on the people ingesting them.

The latest statistics show that “23.9 deaths per 100,000 people” have occurred in this county, with deaths due to drug-related causes being on the rise each year, according to the Conduent Healthy Communities Institute. Kern County has well over 874,000 people, according to the World Atlas which means opioids account for 209 plus deaths and this number does not including those still actively addicted.

“Our goal is to offer hope and healing to our community,” Pierce said admitting it is time to build on to his dream and vision of giving to his community.

“The next step in Cornerstone’s path is to start an addiction center [a brick and mortar center] that will benefit those with drug addictions, here in the Tehachapi Valley,” Pierce stated.

Pierce, and the others at Cornerstone, understand that receiving help for an addiction can be costly and finding affordable quality care is often out of the reach for many who need it the most – those with addictions.

“But, with the help of our generous community members we can make this help available to those who need it the most,” Pierce said. “And you can help for less than the price of a monthly Streaming Netflix rental.”

Cornerstone is looking to find 600 people who are willing to donate $10 per month for one year. As of this post, they have reached 12.5 percent of their goal.

“Donations can be made once or you can spread out of your donation over the months as we have been able to set up an auto-pay donation at http://www.cornerstoneccd.com  Pierce said. “Or you can send your donations by way of check to Cornerstone Center 1121 W Valley Blvd #225, Tehachapi, Calif. 93561.”

The goal is to open the offices of Cornerstone in October of 2019, but until full funding is achieved the counseling will continue on its ever-growing pace.

For those wishing more info visit the website, email Pastor Pierce at joshua@CornerstoneCCD.org or call the office at 661-750-0439.

When Love Takes You From Trial to Trail

When tempers flare and restraining orders become necessary … sometimes the next phone call is life-shattering. That is exactly what happened in Dee Fournier’s family July 17, 2002 when an officer knocked on the door.

“The officer knocked on our dad’s door,” Fournier, “and then dad made the call to mom.”

That was followed by the parents splitting up the notification to their four other children that their oldest “sister had been murdered by her estranged husband.”

“I remember waking to my husband yelling for me,” Fournier said. “He woke me from a blissful sleep. And after I got to the phone my mother told me – ‘He shot her. He killed her, right in front of the kids,’ my mother said between sobs.”

Dee and Juli

Left to right – Dee Fournier and her sister, Juli.

Juli had been married to her husband, and the father of her two children, for “15 to 18 years”, Fournier recalls. “While she said she was unhappy and they argued, she never told us of any physical abuse,” Fournier said shaking her head.

But with the “if I can’t have her no one will,” attitude Juli’s husband was overheard expounding (by one of the couple’s mutual friends), one of the (possibly) first physical encounters looks to have been the deadliest.

“I just wish we’d known,” Fournier admits as the weight of guilt weighs heavy on those left behind. “It’s the ‘what ifs?’ ‘should of’, ‘could of’ and the ‘only if’ that linger,” even 17 years later, Fournier admits with grief laden eyes.

These are some of the reasons Fournier will be putting one foot in front of the other this year as she steps out on the American Discovery Trail.

 

Fournier will be walking/hiking from California “which is, in part, where I’ve been hiding from my grief” to Maine. You see, Fournier is heading back home to where her sister Juli and the other 5 siblings were raised, as well as where a good number of the family still make their homes. But this journey is not really starting in California.

“I sat, with the rest of my family, (in Florida) trial side through the first trial, in which my brother-in-law was convicted of first-degree murder.”

He exercised his ‘right’ to an appeal. But that did not change the outcome.

“My brother-in-law was found guilty, both times. Guilty of premeditated murder…” Fournier said, swallowing hard. “Well, I thought the healing would begin there,” Fournier said shaking her head. “But it didn’t. The trials were just beginning.”

Now, 17 years later, Fournier’s focus has changed. She hopes to stop running from the guilt, running from the sadness, running from the longing to be around her sister and “stop the wake of destructiveness for others and their families before domestic violence permanently and irreversibly scars them,” Fournier admits.

This is where the trail begins to lead to an end. Fournier is ready to set off on the trail of awareness and healing, but not just for her family.

“It’s ironic, it seems I have been a bit lost since my sister’s murder,” Fournier said, “and recently, as I was looking for what my purpose in life is … a friend encouraged me to follow my passion.” A light chuckle escaped Fournier’s throat. “I didn’t even recognize I had anything I was passionate about when my friend pointed out I had two things – my love for hiking and photography.”

Add the desire to not let her sister’s death be in vain and Fournier’s multi-faceted goals came into view.

“As I am out on the west coast, I decided to make the cross-country hike and head home. But not before I paid homage to my sister, her plight and all who endure any domestic violence,” Fournier said, braving a smile.

But it’s not just a 6,800 plus mile hike. Fournier will be stopping along the trail, in towns where she can talk with ladies who are experiencing domestic violence.

Stop-Domestic-Violence-Logo-525

As Fournier hikes from coast to coast she will be stopping to bring light to the serious nature of domestic violence while encouraging many to 1) not to accept such behaviors, 2) believe in themselves and their ability to stand up for themselves and their children, 3) get free and 4) “don’t let them sweet-talk you back.”

 

The trail will take Fournier through California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Delaware, but then she will continue on her path up to Main where she will complete this 9-month to a yearlong hike.

american discovery trail

While Fournier’s first footfall on the trail will be on her sister’s birthday, April 24, she shares: “I would love to make it in 9 months, after all, I was delivered after that length of time,” Fournier said with a light chuckle as her heart began to ease as she realized she was heading home. All awhile knowing it may take longer depending on the number of stops.

Fournier will not be working, of course, during this 9-month plus long trek that will be bringing awareness to the multitude of dangers associated with domestic violence. There has been a GoFundMe page set up for those who would like to support her efforts to highlight, among other facts, that approximately every minute about 20 people become victims of domestic violence as pointed out by the U.S. Department of Justice report on just the non-fatal domestic violence acts.

There have already been a couple of folks step up in support of Fournier’s gallant endeavor. The Verizon Wireless company has become a sponsor as well as other individuals who are against domestic violence.

“I will be chronicling my trip along the American Discovery Trail with my camera and a diary.”

Although Fournier is aware some men are victims of domestic violence, she “will be speaking to as many women as I can,” across the U.S. near the trail “as I want to do something specifically associated with the same reason for my sister’s death.”

DeeFouriner

Dee Fournier, April 2019 conditioning for the trek of a lifetime.

Fournier will be lacing up her hiking boots, darning her backpack and hitting the trail on April 24th of 2019 at the west coast head of the trail in Point Reyes, Calif.

You can follow her on Twitter #DeeGoesFromTrialToTrail or Instagram at Deestahdiva, at her website http://deegoesfromtrialtotrail.com/ and, if you desire to, you can catch up with what Fournier is doing by going to her YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qea-QT2Ss6g. Donations can be made by going to http://www.GoFundMe.com where you will be able to look up DeeGoesFromTrialToTrail.
Dee Fournier is a strong lady who I have had the pleasure of becoming friends with over the last few years. As a former victim of domestic violence myself, I applaud Dee’s decision to take back her life all awhile speaking out to help others not end up like her sister. I know Miss Juli looks down from heaven and smiles as her baby sister begins to take back her life and inspire others to do the same. May your foot-falls be on solid ground and your voice be heard across this nation. — Kathleen Kline