Dedicated group dedicates House of New Beginnings
A long-awaited dream came true for many Harrison Countians with the dedication Sunday of the House of New Beginnings.
The 30-bed, 8,000-square-foot residence for recovering alcohol and other substance abusers is expected to open in a few weeks, said director Brian Dearing.
That day could not come soon enough for those who have worked many years to see the project to fruition. The House of New Beginnings incorporated as a nonprofit in 1999 as an offshoot of The Next Step, a self-help center for recovering substance abusers nearby.
Ground was broken last year in September on the 2-1/2 acre New Beginning’s site off Floyd Street. The $1 million red brick building will provide a carefully supervised home for men in recovery. Most will be referred to the half-way house by the court. Those men must have jobs, pay room and board, and abide by curfews and other rules.
Addressing a crowd of well-wishers at the Open House and Dedication Ceremony, Judge Roger D. Davis gave credit to the many people who worked to bring the facility about, especially the board of directors. But, he said, ‘With every project, there is usually one person who does more than anyone else, and that special person is (board president) Sheila Tempel.’
Everyone rose and applauded those efforts as Tempel’s face turned a light shade of red.
Davis, judge of Harrison Superior Court which hears and rules on criminal cases of adult substance-abuse offenders, said it’s not possible to keep substance abusers in jail forever. The residential facility will provide a clean, stable atmosphere during the rehabilitation process of like-minded individuals.
‘If they are here, they will work and turn their lives around,’ Davis said. ‘They can contribute to the community by paying taxes and doing their part.’
The New Beginning’s board has already turned its attention toward the women who need a transitional living facility to help recovery. Although there was a greater need for men, women also need help, Davis said. To that end, a needs assessment will be conducted in the coming months for a residential facility for female substance abusers during recovery.
The announcement drew loud applause.
Such facilities were the stuff dreams were made of for the late Sylvester Ladd, a valued alcohol/drug counselor at LifeSpring mental health services who for years filled a vast need in Harrison County.
Speaking at the dedication, former prosecutor Ronald W. Simpson of Corydon recalled his 16 years in office, and how his friend made the job so much easier.
‘During that entire time, it was my great pleasure to have a true friend named Sylvester Ladd, or Vest as everybody called him,’ Simpson said.
Ladd, an alcoholic who was reborn in 1967 at age 33, when he hit bottom and the only way was up. He told his story just about as often as anyone would listen.
‘Alcoholics are basically selfish people,’ Simpson told the hushed crowd. ‘They only care about themselves. Vest learned a valuable lesson that all selfish people need to learn: Stop focusing on yourself and try to help somebody else.
‘Vest trained to become a counselor with the Southern Indiana Mental Health and Guidance Center (now LifeSpring) and worked for many years with his good friend Wayne Buchinsky.
‘Most recently he worked part-time at the Harrison County Jail as an alcohol counselor,’ Simpson said. ‘I learned very soon when I started practicing law that Vest Ladd was a good fellow to know. He could help if you had a client who had an alcohol or drug problem.’
Simpson said, ‘We would all look to Vest to get his opinion about whether a person was ready for treatment. Vest would conduct an assessment and share the results with us if the defendant authorized the release of that information.
‘We all knew that those drunks couldn’t fool Vest,’ Simpson said. ‘He had been there.’
He helped countless alcoholics and their loves ones lead better lives. ‘Vest Ladd left quite a legacy,’ Simpson said.
‘Our challenge today is for us to continue this legacy and work together for a better way of life for those who suffer from the disease of alcoholism,’ Simpson said. ‘As we dedicate this building, our hope and prayer is that healing will take place in this building and in the lives of those who reside here.’
Many others also received wholehearted thanks for supporting the project from the board, which includes: Tempel, president; Judge Davis, vice president; Lauren Wheatley, secretary; Debbie Longoria, treasurer; and Cindy Bauer, Larry Bauer, Robert Bolen, Wayne Buchinsky, Dennis Byrd, Phyllis Henderson, Leah Fink and Fred Satterfield.
The New Beginning’s director appears well qualified for the job.
Dearing, 48, has never been involved in running a half-way house before, but he has experience in the field of alcoholism, including work in a treatment center in Birdseye and a drunk-driving program in Jasper.
He holds a degree in pastoral counseling from the Louisville Presbyterian Seminary and could be a board-certified chaplain. He and his wife, Stephanie, and son, Hank, 6, moved here from Huntingburg.
He is accepting applications for a residential night manager’s position. A high school diploma or GED, a driver’s license, automobile insurance and a clean driving record are requirements for the job, which provides room and board and pays a small stipend. The number to call is 738-3179.
The center is also compiling a waiting list and expects to open in two to three weeks.