Seven years ago, the 10-year marriage of Bradenton’s Don and Angie Power was in crisis.

Power, an automotive wholesaler based in Bradenton, had cheated on his wife.

Angie Power, however, reminded her husband of a promise they had made — divorce would never be an option.

The couple sought help from Christian and secular counselors, therapists and a psychiatrist.

But it wasn’t until they met a marriage coach when they say things began to turn around.

The coach forced the couple to talk to each other. Learning to communicate was the key to saving their marriage, Don Power said.

Don and Angie were so amazed at what they accomplished with the coach that they decided they had to try to coach others.

“First, we led the marriage ministry at Woodland The Community Church for 18 months,” Power said.

Roughly 18 months ago, the couple started its own nonprofit marriage coaching and education program in Bradenton called Marriage & Family Works.

The Powers have local volunteer couples help educate newly struggling couples.

“Many times during traditional marriage counseling, couples are passive,” said marketing director Sandy James, the organization’s only employee. “They sit on the sofa, talk about grievances and leave it there. We are empowering them with skills that they can use.”

“Mostly we ask people to donate whatever they can afford,” James said when asked how much program costs.

“We are not therapists, not counselors, we have no degrees,” Power said. “What we will do is teach you new ways to communicate and new ways to listen.

“We are all Christians, but we are not addressing this necessarily from a Christian viewpoint. We deal with people of no faith all the time. If people want to hear a Christian point of view, we can offer that, but if they don’t, we don’t. ”

The Keeners

Gary and Andrea Keener, of Ohio, who have three children, heard about Marriage Works and recently flew to Bradenton, they said.

“Life got in the way,” Gary Keener said about his marriage. “We tried to be everything to everyone and lost touch with each other and our marriage.”

Last year, the couple experienced infidelity.

“A friend recommended we attend HOPE Weekend at Marriage & Family Works,” Keener said. “HOPE Weekend was a turning point in our marriage.

“The environment was structured for each person to be challenged to dig deep into their hearts. We learned to communicate with each other and we went home with renewed hope for a future that is different and optimistic.

“The problems have not magically erased, but we found tools and ways to effectively communicate our struggles.”

The Cappons

In 2009, Jason and Heather Cappon, of Sarasota, thought they were headed for divorce. They were high school sweethearts, but experienced infidelity 12 years into their marriage.

“We had no hope,” Jason Cappon said.

They decided to get coaching at Marriage & Family Works.

“It’s a place where your deepest hurts and desires can be expressed and dealt with, and you know you’re not alone,” he said.

Hope Cottage

From 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 27, Marriage & Family Works plans to rehabili- tate a small house, called Hope Cottage, where a family like the Keeners can stay for free while they seek marriage restoration, Don Power said.

The cottage, which has been donated by a generous local man, is on 12th Street East, a short walk from the organization’s two main buildings that are connected by a courtyard at 1001-1007 Manatee Ave. E.

Marriage & Family Works is seeking volunteers to assist in yard and other restoration work on the cottage that day.

“We need appliances, tile, carpet, furniture, roofing materials and more,” Don Power said.

To get more information on Marriage & Family Works or to attend an upcoming weekend session, call James at (941) 827-0500.

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.