Spending Christmas with their families takes on a new meaning for the women at New Life House after struggling through various stages of drug and alcohol abuse and are now living productive lives with a support system to help in their recovery.
Thanks to the generosity of donors, the women held a special dinner earlier and will be going to their family’s homes on Christmas day. Before leaving they will open gifts around a beautiful tree decorated by the Durant Education Service Sorority.
“The real gift will be spending the holiday without drugs and being sober,” said Suzy Hicks, director.
The home opened in August 2010 after the family of the late Ron Cross, a businessman and civic leader, donated the facility in an effort to give women a drug free environment during their recovery from addiction. Since opening, 45 women have been given an opportunity to build a life without the influence of outside sources.
Hicks began work on the idea of a program after she defeated the demons of drug addiction. She had been in and out of rehab and knew when leaving a rehab facility or jail, without help she would be going back to a life where drugs were a way of life and that made it harder to stay clean. After Tammy Cross donated the home in the name of her late husband, an anonymous donor made a cash donation to use as a start-up fund to get the program off the ground.
New Life can accommodate up to six women at one time and those accepted there must also agree to some strict guidelines. In addition to be remaining drug free and sober, they must seek work and pay a weekly fee which helps with expenses. They attend 12-Step meetings, are randomly drug tested and volunteer for community service.
“Since coming here from rehab, I have been able to focus on recovery, get a job and learn to be a responsible person,” said one resident who wished to remain anonymous. “I didn’t have to go back into a drug environment and I’m learning to be more structured in my living and decision making.”
Because of the drug related background some of the women have records and it’s harder to find jobs for them, according to Hicks. Many of the employers have a policy not to hire convicted felons and some of these residents are because of their former drug related activities. However, they can find jobs in fast food establishments and hotels.
Keeping the program going has been a struggle for Hicks. It has been established as a non-profit organization and depends entirely on private donations for its existence.
“It’s getting harder to keep the doors open, but next year we have been approved for United Way funding which will help,” said Hicks. “We will still have to depend on public support, but United Way will be a blessing by giving us a foundation to work from.”
Without New Life House, many of the women who have resided there since its inception would not be leading successful and productive lives now. When they chose a new path and are accepted they are given an opportunity for a new life. Keeping the doors open is a challenge for Hicks but one she is determined to accomplish.
Anyone wishing to donate to this tax deductible organization may contact: Suzy Hicks at 580-916-2980. Citizens are also encouraged to stop by the facility at 1323 N. Eighth Ave., in Durant to tour the home and see firsthand how it serves these women.