The first executive director for Lucille Raines Residence passed way Thursday, March 9, 2017 at age 92. Among expressions received, Jim Bushfield wrote, “She was a saint with an edge. She blessed us with hope”. It has often been said that Evelyn Saffer was the brains behind Raines.
Evelyn had deep roots in the addiction recovery community. It was she who established Lucille Raines Residence 40 years ago in 1977, where she served as Executive Director for 19 years before her retirement in 1995. She considered the establishment of Lucille Raines Residence her greatest achievement.
Evelyn, herself a recovering alcoholic, wrote the proposal, obtained seed money through grants and located the building. Indiana United Methodist Women was the answer to Evelyn’s prayers to create a safe haven for those committed to addiction recovery. They owned a building and Evelyn Saffer was the person with experience and dedication for the job. Current Executive Director Carolyn Marshall, then president of South Conference of United Methodist Women, was instrumental in working with Evelyn to begin the cutting edge ministry located at 947 N. Pennsylvania Street in downtown Indianapolis, where Evelyn’s legacy to addiction recovery continues today, still a project of Indiana United Methodist Women.
Even after Evelyn’s retirement she remained faithful to Christ’s calling and Raines, at first giving 20 hours a week counseling Raines’ residents. As health began to deteriorate, she was forced to give less time, but she continued to be a viable presence helping out as health permitted. She has positively impacted countless lives.
She was born in Paducah, Kentucky in 1924 and received her early education at St. Mary’s Academy and undergraduate work at Brescia College before going on to St. Louis University and then on to Fordham for graduate work. Evelyn earned a Doctorate in English Literature. It was because of her love for teaching that she became a nun in 1945 with the Ursuline Community in Maple Mount, KY, a teaching order, where she remained 22 years.
She left the Ursuline Community in 1967 because of alcoholism. Ms. Saffer was a member of Chapel Hill United Methodist Church in Indianapolis.
Evelyn attributed the Salvation Army and Alcoholics Anonymous for her successful recovery. She had walked in the shoes of recovery; perhaps this was reason she related so well to fellow addicts and was a constant encouragement offering hope for their journeys. It is not surprising that among her last words with current Executive Director Carolyn Marshall that Evelyn talked about Lucille Raines Residence. At Evelyn’s request, no service is planned at this time. A celebration of her life will be held at a later date. Memorials may be given to Lucille Raines Residence, 947 N. Pennsylvania Street, Indianapolis, IN 46204.