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New path, hope at Corydon home

New path, hope at Corydon home
New path, hope at Corydon home
Residents of The House of New Beginnings move chairs from the living room to the dining room after a Christmas party Friday afternoon. Photos by Ross Schulz (click for larger version)

The House of New Beginnings, a residential home for men recovering from drugs or alcohol in Corydon, provides exactly that ‘ a new beginning ‘ for its residents.
Kevin Darst, the house’s director, said the facility is for addicts who want to recover and want to change their life. He said about half of the residents are there voluntarily, while the other half are there because of a court recommendation or jail furlough.
The facility houses 30 men, two to a room, and, as of Friday, is not completely full.
‘Anybody can come as long as you have a problem and are willing to follow a structure, ready to change.’ Darst said.
Darst expects the house, which has had a waiting list in the past, to be full again after the first of the year.
He said that after the holidays, which can be rough for some, hopefully, folks will be sick and tired of the life of an addict and want to change.
Even if the residents return to their old ways when leaving the house, Darst said, at least there’s a seed planted in the mind.
‘They know there’s another way,’ he said. ‘At least, they’ll have a taste of a sober, safe community. A lot of people have never had that. They grew up in an alcoholic home and don’t know any different.’
The cost to stay at The House of New Beginnings is $100 a week, which includes food and a membership to the YMCA of Harrison County. Each night, one of the men cooks a meal for all of those residing in the house. Residents have to find a job and must stay sober and off drugs. Also, anyone with a past sexual crime is not eligible to be admitted, Darst said.
Residents can stay as few as six months or as many as 18, Darst added, and have to be actively involved in a 12-step recovery program.
The program is mainly self-supporting, with approximately 80 percent of the funding coming from rent, while the rest is paid for through grants and donations, including those from the Harrison County Community Foundation, which also helped with a match for the grant to build the home in 2007.
One of the residents, R.J., said he came to the house to get sober. He said he was in the house for four months then left and lived with his grandmother for a month before returning.
‘I couldn’t wait to get back here,’ he said.
He said the guys at the facility become like brothers and, even though they come from different backgrounds, different jobs and may be significantly different in age, they all share one common bond of drug or alcohol abuse.
R.J. said it provides structure in their lives, something most of them have never had.
‘Kevin is the key to it; he’s like a father figure,’ he said. ‘Some of us didn’t have the best houses growing up.’
R.J. said Darst will always find something for them to do around the house.
Also, he said The House of New Beginnings is a great way for addicts to find a way to get plugged back into society as some of the residents have recently been incarcerated.
‘It’s a good way to step back into it,’ he said. ‘This place really helps.’
The camaraderie shared with the men is like nothing else, R.J. said, because, while their immediate family may be good, for the most part, they haven’t shared the same experiences as their fellow roommates at The House of New Beginnings.
R.J. said the cost of traditional detoxification treatment is outrageous, $5,000 or $6,000 for just 28 days.
‘I probably could have had my family pay for it, but I’ve burned them enough,’ he said. ‘This place is better.’
He said it’s like a ‘home away from home’ and he dreads leaving it.
‘But I know I have to,’ he said.
Darst said the facility houses men ages 19 through 65. The only way a resident is kicked out of the house is if he partakes in drugs, alcohol or physical violence. The men have to follow a curfew, which is 10 p.m. throughout the week and 11:30 on weekends, and wake-up call is at 7:30 each morning during the week.
Darst, who took over as the facility’s director in 2008, has been involved in the recovery community for 20 years.
‘I like hanging out with these guys,’ he said. ‘I had the same background and found different ways.’
He said he turned down the job the first time it was offered, but said he fell in love with it when he finally accepted.
‘It’s not like work at all, and it helps me,’ he said.
Those seeking to reside in the facility do not have to be from Harrison County. While 50 percent of the current residents are from Harrison County, there are others from all over Southern Indiana and Louisville.
‘A lot of times it’s good to get away from your old playgrounds,’ Darst said.
Since it was created, Darst said 250 people have made their way to the facility.
Another resident, Dustin, was forced to be at the house as a part of his jail furlough.
‘It helps get me on my feet,’ he said. ‘I didn’t want to come here at first, but I’m liking it. I like the structure of it.’
Dustin said at The House of New Beginnings, he’s not trying to recover on his own.
Darst said there may be a misconception about taxpayer money being used to fund the home, but that’s not the case. Although some folks didn’t want the program to be created, Darst said, the surrounding residents of the home have had no problems because of it.
‘We’re some of the best neighbors on the street,’ Darst said.
The main purpose of the house is to give men a safe, sober, structured life if they want to receive it.
‘My job is to keep it that way,’ Darst said.
For more information about the program, visit http://hnb12.com/Welcome.html or call Darst at 738-3179.

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