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Foundation comes through for much-needed facility

The House of New Beginnings, finally, does have now a new beginning. Maybe its third or fourth one. This one seems for real.
The Harrison County Community Foundation came through big-time last week by approving a $90,000 request for the non-profit House of New Beginnings organization to buy property for a $700,000 halfway house on Floyd Street in Corydon. An earlier preferred site next to The Next Step AA center on Big Indian Road was unanimously turned down by the Corydon Plan Commission over two years or so ago. First efforts at a halfway house were started here in 1996.
Many of the people who live in the Floyd Street neighborhood are less than thrilled with the prospect of 32 recovering alcoholics and drug addicts leaving jail to live next door to them in a nice dormitory-style building, but that is largely a problem of perception and education that should ease with time.
The interesting thing is – as people who are expert in drug abuse explain – the residents must be approved by the court to live there, or they will be people who ask to live there, for their own good. In other words, the residents, by and large, will be people who are finally serious about taking charge of their once-miserable lives and dealing honestly and successfully with their addictions. We should all do what we can to help them.
Ironically, some of the people who complain the loudest about having alcoholics and drug addicts in their midst most likely already have them in their midst – brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, in-laws who are making life difficult for everyone else in their family. As Harrison Superior Judge Roger Davis pointed out at a town board meeting, just about every family, rich and poor alike, has someone who needs help with alcoholism or drug abuse, but they haven’t reached a point yet where they are willing to admit that they are helpless and need professional help. The residents in The House of New Beginnings will have reached that point. If they screw up, they will be back in jail in a heartbeat, and they know it. That’s a pretty good motivator.
The House of New Beginnings will be a welcoming place for people who want to improve their lives with professional help, a well-structured existence, and round-the-clock supervision. They will be required to hold a job, pay for their room, meet curfew, and share certain responsibilities at the dorm. These are not going to be people who will threaten their neighbors or molest children.
Leah Fink, the tireless Corydon lawyer who has led the charge for a halfway house here, and who doesn’t pull any punches, said, “This is not going to be a flop house. These people are going to be there committed to getting sober, staying sober, and bettering the lives of themselves, their families and the community in general. By the time it’s all said and done, they will be glad we’re there.”
Sylvester Ladd, a highly respected drug and alcohol counselor who helped start the successful Serenity House in Clarksville 27 years ago, told town trustees and a group of highly concerned neighbors last year that when Serenity House announced plans to relocate, the neighbors there were upset. They had gotten used to the residents’ many acts of kindness – mowing lawns, cleaning up yards, helping the elderly and infirm.
We’re impressed that Fink and her board have been so tenacious in seeking funds for the land and persuading various boards of the need for such a beneficial facility in Harrison County. Right now, there is none. People who want long-term treatment are placed on a maddening waiting list and must go out-of-county, which is a real bear for people who are already struggling with multiple problems and crises due to drug and alcohol abuse.
A local facility will make it much easer for the resident’s family, too. They are often the ones who suffer the most.
And once a substance abuser has learned how to deal with his addiction, it will cost fewer taxpayer dollars in the long run and it frees up room in the jail for those who should be there.
Now all The House of New Beginnings’ board must do is raise $700,000 for the building, which will enhance the value of the whole Floyd Street neighborhood. Fink said she’s going to focus all her considerably energy on that goal. We have no doubt she and her board will find the grant money and start construction in the near future.
Another new beginning.