Halfway to hope

SANDUSKY Stepping through the door at 906 Decatur St. is not like walking into most houses.
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010



Stepping through the door at 906 Decatur St. is not like walking into most houses.

People who enter for the first time are usually overcome with nervousness and anxiety, but also anticipation.

These people have seen their lowest point, recognized it and want to make a change.

Their first step through the threshold is also their first step toward starting over.

The Home of Hope helps rehabilitate, educate and rejuvenate women who suffer from drug addiction through its Life Renewal Program.

Up to six women live in the house at a time and are under supervision 24 hours a day.

The Home strives to prepare each woman to re-enter society as seamlessly as possible.

Their lives are structured, and each hour of each day is planned.

Brenda Johnson, a caregiver at Safe Harbour, meets with the group every Tuesday. She teaches a variety of topics including nutrition, self-esteem and domestic skills. Most of all, she helps the women cope, encouraging them to let go of their baggage and look at the root of their addiction.

On Tuesday, Johnson told the four women currently at the Home to put themselves first.

"It was always about the kids and school and the kids and my family. It was never about me. I would lose myself," said Aretha Palma, 36, who's been addicted to crack for the last 12 years.

The Home's key ingredient is God, and Christian values are woven into every lesson.

"I found that the spiritual foundation is the number one thing they need," said the Rev. Doris Troup, director.

The women attend daily Bible studies and prayer groups to help redirect their priorities.

They become each other's support system until they are ready to stand on their own.

The walls and tables in the home are covered with reminders to keep its residents focused.

A quote in a plaque on the table reads: "I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life -- He gave me life that I might enjoy all things."

A Bible verse on the dry erase board in the living room reads: "Whatever is hidden away will be brought into the open and whatever is covered up will be found and brought to light."

And on the refrigerator: "I asked God to take away my habit. God said, 'No. It's not for me to take away, but for you to give up.'"

Troup said running the Home has been a labor of love, but she considered resigning after a heart attack in February.

"I thought I was going to give this up, but I won't. It's my calling,'" she said.

The Home of Hope was founded nine years ago and has suffered some financial hardships along the way, but Troup is proud of only having to operate "two days in the red."

Churches, foundations and donations help fund the program, but Troup said money is still tight -- which can limit the number of women living in the home.

"We can only take so many," Troup said. "We don't want to go to the government, because we'd have to take away the religion part, telling them about Jesus Christ."

She looks to the community for help.

"It takes all of us," she said. "It takes the whole community. It doesn't take the village, it takes the whole community to support the Home of Hope."

More than 45 women have graduated from the home in the last five years. Troup said they have about a 65-percent success rate, which is normal for rehabilitation centers.