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Transistion home for women slated to open next month

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By Jennifer Caldwell

Desperate times call for desperate measures.  

And so it goes for First Baptist Church of Jacksboro.

In a time when addiction seems to run rampant in Campbell County, members of the downtown Jacksboro congregation have found themselves desperately wanting to help desperate people.

Now in it’s third year of facilitating the flourishing Celebrate Recovery program, which offers spiritual direction and healing for those with “hurts, habits and hang-ups” of all kinds the church is taking on a new challenge.

 Not unlike other 12 step programs, Celebrate Recovery’s aim is to free people from the bondage of addictions of all types, the marked difference is a matter of faith. While other programs challenge participants to draw strength from a higher power, those who subscribe to the tenets of the faith-based program believe that the only power comes through Jesus Christ.

“We believe that Jesus is the only answer to these (addiction) problems,” Christine Morris, of Celebrate Recovery explained.

As a testament of the faith that has brought such success to the weekly Celebrate Recovery program, the church is now prayerfully increasing the territory of the program by surging forward with plans to open a transition home for women.

According to Morris, the burden for the population of women exiting jail with no means to start over, was born out of the Celebrate Recovery jail ministry.

“We are dealing with people that have not choice to go back into the situations they came from,” Morris said of the dire circumstances many of the county’s female prisoners find themselves in once they are released from jail.

With a vision for helping these women to make a new start, the group hopes to open the residence called The Shepherd’s Home on Nov. 1.

“We needed to be able to offer them (women exiting jail) a safe place to go to recover,” Morris said adding that providing a place to get their lives back on track will improve their chances of staying out of jail.

Taking note of Celebrate Recovery’s positive impact on the community, the program has found a needed ally in the county’s drug court.

The first residents of the transition home will be drug court participants and for Jonathan Finley, drug court administrator, the timing couldn’t be better.

“This is going to be a huge opportunity for us (the drug court) because most of the residential facilities have long waiting lists if that is even an option at all,” Finley explained offering that the new transition home will provide better opportunities for the drug court to check in with its participants.

Finley also pointed out that offering offenders a residential transition option is a sure fire way to reduce recidivism in our county’s judicial system.

According to Finley, statistics show that 70 to 80 percent of drug offenders will re-offend if released from with no treatment in place. However that number is reduced to around 30 percent with participation in drug court and support services such as the transition home.

While setting up housekeeping for a program that will eventually house as many as nine women seems like a daunting task, Morris said this is where the faith that is so crucial to Celebrate Recovery’s success comes into play.

“If this had been my baby I would have given up on it a long time ago. God has raised up an army of people who are committed to seeing this happen.  He (God) is the one who is motivating people’s hearts. So this is His burden to carry not mine,” Morris said.

Although the structure that will become home to the women in the program for at least one year is owned by First Baptist Jacksboro, Morris is quick to point out that the goal is for the transition home to be a community investment.

“We don’t want First Baptist Jacksboro to stand in the way of getting people from other churches involved in this.  We are hoping that all of the local churches will come behind it with support,” Morris explained.

With estimated monthly expenses of $7,500, which includes salaries for an administrator, assistant administrator and relief staff as well as food, electricity and other  costs associated with running a household, Morris said community support is critical.

“Our goal is to have the residents working by the end of their first month in the home, so  they will be responsible for $75 per week, but we will also be soliciting funds from churches and local businesses as well,” Morris explained.

According to Morris, the home is in need of all the major home furnishing items including beds and appliances. The group has also set up a registry at Walmart under The Shepherd’s Home for those wishing to purchase items for the home.

With approximately one month until the The Shepherd’s Home puts out the welcome mat for its first residents there is still much to be done, but that doesn’t seem to dampen Morris’ enthusiasm.

“I can’t tell you how many times I have wondered how this was going to work and just then the right person came along that knew how to get things done,” Morris said.

The Sheperd’s Home will be hosting a community wide open house on Nov. 1 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.  

For more information on how to become involved with Celebrate Recovery or The Shepherd’s Home, contact Margaret Faulkner at 562-4432 or First Baptist Jacksboro at 562-5168.