L to R: Lucy Bird, Sherri Cook, Sam Thernes

Unconditional Love & Sober Living: Mother and Daughters in Leadership of Hope’s Landing

What does unconditional love look like?

Does it look like walking with a stranger struggling with addiction? Or a mother who never gives up on her daughter, even and especially the one who had issues with drugs and alcohol from the age of 13?

For seven years, Lucy Bird fought her personal battle of addiction. Her mother, Sherri Cooke and sister, Sam Thernes, will tell you that Lucy’s addiction impacted the entire family.

“I grew up in church,” says Lucy. “Our family had rules and expectations. I knew I was loved.” And yet, having gotten in with an older group of teens, she remembers it taking hold after her first beer.

“Everyone is just one step away to crossing the line with addiction,” she continues. “Other teens were able to take that first beer and not have issues. For me, my brain instantly screamed for more. Addiction doesn’t play favorites.”

Lucy speaks not only as one who fought and won her sobriety, but as one who bears witness to and walks alongside others who are climbing out today.

Lucy Bird is the Executive Director of Hope’s Landing, a sober house in Dickinson, which seeks to offer unconditional love and support to those with alcohol and addiction issues.

She first came across the ministry in a newspaper article and offered to drive a friend to the meetings. This led to her becoming a mentor, given her own battle and sobriety, then to being the first Executive Director.

Sherri Cooke, her mom, quickly stepped in. “If you need me, I want to help,” she told Lucy, and initially utilized her CPA background as Hope’s treasurer.

“There’s no way we can make this happen,” says Sherri, who is currently the President of the organization. “God has a plan for each of the residents of Hope’s Landing, and lives are being changed. To watch a life go from ugliness and hopelessness, to something beautiful and alive, is truly a wonderful experience.”

“80% of the people who come to Hope’s Landing have experienced past trauma and currently have no support. No family, no resources. They have either burned those bridges or they didn’t exist to begin with,” says Lucy.

“We can’t fix that,” says Sherri. “But we can acknowledge it, and we can care – that makes a difference. They are worthy of love just as they are, and most of the people we meet have never been told that before.”

Hope’s Landing is a safe, sober and accountable home for those who need it. Instead of an institution, those who live at Hope’s Landing find a comfortable space and family dynamic. Long lasting relationships are developed, and people learn (some for the first time) what it means to be a part of a family, a neighborhood and a community. They attend Bible study as well as AA/NA meetings, get a job and acquire life skills needed to make a long-lasting change for their futures.

Growing up, Sam Thernes, Lucy’s younger sister, remembers Lucy’s absence at family events. Sam is now the fundraising chair for Hope’s Landing, along with her husband Chris. “I just want to help people,” says Sam. “I’ve experienced the struggle in my own family, and I want to make a difference for other families.”

Sherri and her daughters tirelessly serve the mission of Hope’s Landing because the need is great. North Dakota has the highest per capita overdose/suicide rates in the United States. Those statistics, and the people they serve every day, keeps them motivated to make the hardest years of their lives into something victorious that they share with our community.

“We have all experienced unconditional love and forgiveness from Jesus Christ,” says Sherri. “So Lucy, Sam and I share the love, and hope of our experience, with others.”

“There’s no shame in struggling with alcohol or drugs,” Lucy emphasizes. “Hope”s Landing is a safe, nonjudgmental place to receive help for those who make the choice to get well.”

Sam and Chris will be coordinating events in 2022 to raise awareness and donations to sustain the cost of running the homes. “Awareness is my first priority,” states Sam. “I want everyone who needs Hope’s Landing to know how to find it.”

Submitted by Tara Zettel