A few months ago we set out to change the way drug addicts handle the time they are on a waiting list to get into a recovery program.
Here’s how this process regularly goes:
An addict finally comes to the point where they want to get help. They take the necessary step to put in an application at a local recovery program. Next, they’re put on a waiting list that routinely lasts anywhere from 2-4 weeks. This isn’t the recovery programs’ fault. They’re at max capacity. Most programs ask applicants to regularly check in with them during the waiting list period. This helps them know who is serious and still interested in being a part of their program. So, the addict waits. And waits. And what do you think happens in the meantime? They don’t have a place to go to break the nasty routine they’ve found themselves in. They’re still surrounded by the same people, places, and things that have played a role in ruining their lives. Some of them make it to the program, but many of them don’t. The desire so many of them had to change when they put in the application fades and they go right back to their normal routine.
Our desire is to change this process. We want to fill the void that’s out there during the waiting list period and help keep the desire to change alive. This has led us to create our very first Men’s Safe House. We’re in the early stages of this process, but so far we’ve seen God do some great things.
During the first week of December 2015, we moved our first person into the new Safe House. The amazing thing about this space is that it’s so much more than just a roof over someone’s head. We intentionally partner with local businesses that give employment opportunities to these men while they’re in the Safe House. We also partner with a local gym that gives them a place to regularly exercise. These partnerships have been made to provide the men with good, productive, and meaningful ways to occupy their time. Also, we have partnered with a local micro-church community whose people play an instrumental role in building relationships with the men in the Safe House. Two men from this community live in the Safe House full-time to provide encouragement, oversight, and accountability. In addition to all of this, Urban Purpose provides oversight and accountability to everyone involved in the process.
On December 22nd we dropped a young man that had been in our Safe House for three weeks off at a recovery program. Instead of aimlessly wandering through life for the three weeks he was on the waiting list, he worked, exercised, went to dinner with safe, healthy people, and was randomly drug tested. He was loved really well by a lot of people. For three weeks he was literally never alone. And so, when the call came that a spot was available for him, he was willing and ready to go. He was in a good place heading into the next four months that he’ll spend in the recovery program.
Most importantly, he was encouraged that he had safe people and safe places to come back to when he’s done. He was shown that he doesn’t have to do this by himself. The program he is in is about 45 minutes from Birmingham and he can have visitors on Sunday afternoons. One of the guys he lived with in the Safe House has made the trip to visit him and so has the boss he worked for during his three week stay. You see, we aren’t doing this just to be a part of someone’s life for a short time. We’re ready and excited about being a part of his life while he’s in the program and when he finishes it. These few weeks have laid a critical foundation for the future.
This was our first run at our crisis-housing model. We know it won’t go this smoothly every time. But we’re excited and confident that this is a direction God is leading us. Right now we have one men’s crisis house open and will have a female house open in the first quarter of this year. We’re looking to do this on a small scale during 2016, learn through the process, make necessary adjustments, and add additional homes in 2017 and beyond. We would love your prayers as we move forward in this process and learn what God has in store for us.