Hugs Not Drugs

As parents, we strive to teach our children everything that we can about the ins and the outs of life.  Their growth and development is our number one priority at all times.  We want them to learn from our experiences and our mistakes so that they are prepared to face similar challenges as they age.  We want them to succeed, to make good decisions, and to live a life of joy and happiness.  Unfortunately, most of us are not experts.  We are not equipped to teach them everything that they need to know.  We have to hope that they will learn from their own life experiences.  Situations that teach them real, honest lessons that cannot and will not be forgotten.  This week, I believe that my girls learned one of these lessons.  I have Impact 52 to thank for it.

Hope House is a non-profit organization with a mission “to provide homeless, chemically dependent women with the opportunities to pursue recovery and self-sufficiency in a healthy, supportive living environment.”  It offers services to clients in two transitional residences in the West Central neighborhood of Fort Wayne.  Well structured and organized programming, a safe environment, and a caring staff help chemically dependent woman turn their lives around.  Those who have completed the program have a solid foundation of recovery and employment.  They leave with a belief in themselves that did not exist during their life of drugs.  The organization saves lives and we witnessed it first hand.

Our volunteer experience took us to Martha’s Place, one of the transitional homes that houses eight women.  Upon arrival, we were greeted by a staff member and a resident who gave us a quick tour of the house.  This gave us a chance to see the layout of the home, how it is used, and hear about the true impact the organization has on women.  Lori is a current resident of Martha’s Place and she has been in the house for a little over 3 months.  She shared her story of drug use and addiction that started at a very young age.  She started with Marijuana before falling in love with cocaine.  More recent, morphine was the drug of choice.  She talked about injecting herself with morphine via hypodermic needle multiple times a day.  Her life was all about chasing the next “fix”.  She struggled to find money to feed her addiction.  The relationships in her life were broken.  She spent time in jail.  In her words, she was at rock bottom.  During these dark days, she believed that suicide was her only option.  She told us that she had to make a change or she would end her life.  Thankfully, she found Hope House.

Hope House has saved Lori’s life.  After entering the program, she relapsed.  She failed one of the random drug screens and she was removed from the home.  After a short time, she earned her way back in.  It has been over 3 months now and her life is on track.  She has a job.  She is progressing through the program and earning more freedom.  She is eager to share her story with others.  It is a life that she has left behind and a life she doesn’t want others to live.  She is very grateful for the Hope House and its staff.   She believes that they saved her life.  After meeting her and hearing her story,  we would agree.

We volunteered to paint a four-person bedroom and that is what we did.  Erica trimmed the woodwork while the girls and I used the rollers.  We enjoyed the time together and we shared many laughs as we worked.  Kelsi’s song “Rolling on the Wall”, a modified version of Tina Turner’s “Rolling on a River”, made us all giggle as we painted.  I am not sure if it was her singing, the lyrics, or too many paint fumes that made us laugh.  Regardless, it brought smiles to our faces.  We were happy to help out the residents of Martha’s place by giving them a new coat of paint in the bedroom.  Hopefully, this fresh coat of paint will help them with their fresh start on life.  If nothing else, we hope it lets them know that we care about them.  We have not given up on them and we support their fight to recovery.

We created Impact 52 because we wanted to make a difference in our community.  We also wanted to teach our daughters about the importance of volunteerism and service to others.  The lessons learned from our time at Hope House will not be forgotten.  We had the opportunity to see and hear about real life stories of drug abuse and addiction.  The girls were very uncomfortable hearing Lori’s story, but they were listening intently.  This experience taught them more than I ever could.  I, as a parent, am grateful for this experience.  Our time with Hope House will have an impact on us as we move forward in life.  Martha’s House is full of support and love.  We felt it while we were there.  In the words of Tammy, Martha’s House case worker, it is all about the hugs, not the drugs.

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