When Alice traveled through Wonderland in the classic novel by Lewis Carroll, she came upon the Cheshire Cat and inquired which way she should go. He replied, “That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.” To Alice’s response, “I don’t much care where,” the Cheshire Cat noted, “Then it doesn’t matter which way you go.”

The story was appropriate for an event called the Mad Hatter Tea & Garden Party and illustrated its theme: Choosing the right path through life. Major Theresa Turner read the passage to the group, who listened while festooned in creative hats and sipping tea among friends at The Salvation Army Center City Corps in downtown Indianapolis.

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The Mad Hatter (Envoy Becky Roberson) & Queen of Hearts greet guests at the Center City Corps

“In our walk through this life,” Major Theresa explained, “we have a choice to make as to which road we follow.”

Many of the women who arrive at The Salvation Army’s Block of Hope have wandered down dangerous paths in the past and are seeking a brighter way forward. Events like the Tea are a way for women who live at the Ruth Lilly Women & Children’s Center or attend programs at the Center City Corps to grow together in faith and confidence while celebrating life and friendship. Behind the fun costumes, tall hats and festive music is a greater purpose – hope and encouragement.

Envoy Becky Roberson chose the theme of Alice and Wonderland because Alice’s adventure was not just entertaining, but also instructive. “Following the wrong person or thing can lead us down into a rabbit a  hole – a pit that can bring us to hit bottom,” Envoy Becky says. “When we fall into this hole, our faith can be tested with great challenges and obstacles.”

Dawn Followell, who was once a resident at the shelter and now attends the Center City Corps, knows this story well. “At one time or another we all fall down a rabbit hole,” she says. When Dawn arrived at the shelter, she was homeless and battling personal demons without a plan. Thanks to programs at the shelter and support groups at Center City Corps, today she is leading a healthy, independent life and following the right path.

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Enjoying a performance by S.A.S.S. (Salvation Army Soul Sisters)

Others guests in the room shared a similar story, including local business owner and keynote speaker Lisa Foote. Her heart-wrenching story of growing up in an abusive household and living as a young adult without a purpose or personal responsibility struck a chord in many hearts. Describing the day she chose to follow a different path – a more difficult path – Lisa said, “I looked in the mirror and did not like what I saw. I wanted to be proud of the woman in the mirror.” Her success story has many ups and downs, but it was inspiring for the ladies at the Tea who are still struggling to choose the right road.

When Major Theresa described the broad and easy road so many follow, she reassured the crowd, “We all come to the fork in the road. If we choose the narrow road, God will be ready to guide us. The choice, though, is ours.”

Perhaps Alice has a little wisdom of her own for these forward-looking ladies:

      “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”