Teresa G. still receives support from other women who once sent letters to her at least twice a week. She had started receiving these letters after she joined a 12-step recovery program while in prison for forgery and check theft to fund her addiction. The women who wrote her had gone through similar struggles with addiction.
“They’ve given me the strength to keep going, you know. Knowing that they all love me and cared really meant a lot to me,” she says. Recently, in Athens, a recovery house to assist women who have gone through the same struggle as Teresa, opened its doors. Women who are passionate about helping other woman created the new recovery home, and their work has inspired others in the county.
It’s been almost twoears since the board for the Serenity Grove Recovery House came together to start planning a women’s recovery house. Teresa and Janalee Stock were among them. The 317 Board called the meeting, bringing together stakeholders from all over Athens County to discuss housing for women who were struggling with addiction. According to Stock, “The resounding consensus was that the need is dire.”
A transitional recovery house for women hasn’t existed in Athens until now. The Rural Women’s Recovery Program, while providing residential housing during the program, is a treatment facility rather than a transitional living set up like Serenity Grove. The transitional housing is the stepping stone for women coming from treatment, supporting them as they get back on their feet without providing treatment. The John W. Clem House, a recovery house for men in Athens, is going on its 11th year.
“I think it always takes long to get services for women,” says Sarah Webb, a clinical social worker and an Ohio-licensed independent social worker, attributing one of the reasons to society blaming women for serious social problems that they find themselves in such as domestic abuse or drug addiction.
In May 2016, Stock and a small group of women joined forces to establish a house for women recovering from addiction. For about six months, the team actively looked for a suitable house, closing last July on the current house. Along the way, the group formed an organization with non-profit status in March. Serenity Grove can provide a temporary home for a total of eight women, one being the house manager. There is not a set amount of time women can stay, Stock says.
The actions of women helping each other are inspiring others. After hearing Stock speak about addiction in his Mapping the Future course, Ohio University student Zach Reizes decided to ask for donations to Serenity Grove for his 21st birthday, a day typically reserved for celebrating with a drink or two for the first–legal–time. He says it is important to remember that alcohol, like the other drugs that any Serenity Grove resident might be trying to escape, is an addictive substance. In October, the Serenity Grove Board hosted a fundraiser, selling 110 tickets and raising just over $26,000.
Teresa is now a student at Ohio Christian University and wants to specialize in addictions counseling. While studies prevent her now from serving on the board, she is striving to make a difference with her life.