FOCIS members had been trained to a cloistered lifestyle with strict schedules and strict modes of behavior and dress.  It was a major adjustment to the new community lifestyle.

The traditional habit, which was a form of protection and separation, was now removed because it had become a barrier to relationships due to suspicion that they were "witches."  Monica Appleby, in Big Stone Gap, Virginia described it this way:  "Around here it is important for women to have long hair...the simplified habit got a good response" because the veil did not completely cover the hair.

The loss of monetary support forced FOCIS members to take secular jobs in order to support the community.

FOCIS members called themselves "inside-outsiders, residents of Appalachia who came from other places."  Being an outsider meant they would encounter numerous hurdles in regard to culture, religion, and racism.

Experiences and opinions varied.  Some enjoyed the new freedoms, but some had trouble transitioning to the "real world."  But according to Helen Lewis in an interview, "they were all "committed to doing good work and they were all open to learn."

Misinformation among the Appalachian people led to a need for advocacy for social security, welfare and black lung benefits.  FOCIS faced opposition from the "elite," telling people they could not get these benefits.  In the book Mountain Sisters, Mary Herr stated:  "It was people telling them that were just trying keep power over people is what I call it.  Just plain keep them under your thumb.  But it took us three years to overcome that and to get people to realize that you aren't obligated to nobody but yourself.  So it worked."

Legal services and health care, which were practically nonexistent, became a priority.