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Halfway house provides ‘structured’ living

Drew Fortwendel, 23, checked into The House of New Beginnings ‘ a halfway house for men recovering from substance abuse ‘ just over one month ago. He had made prior attempts at sobriety but found his abstinence short-lived.
‘I would work a program and things would get stagnant, I guess, for me. I’d be complacent with my recovery, and I would end up using or thinking I could hang out with an old buddy and just chill at his house and not do anything,’ he said. ‘That might work for a day, and then I would always use again and, for short periods of time, I would find myself in despair, not knowing what to do or where to turn next.’
Since his move to The House of New Beginnings in Corydon, Fortwendel has found its structured system to be a great help.
‘I have never wanted (help) like I do now. It’s something you have to want,’ he said. ‘You have to want to change. And it’s taken me a long time to get to that point.’
Residents, who must pass a background check, can stay a minimum of six months and a maximum of 18 months and are kept on a strict regimen: out of bed by 7:30 a.m., curfew of 10 p.m. on weekdays and 11 p.m. on weekends, daily chores and 12-step classes.
‘It’s open to anyone who has a problem with substance abuse or alcoholism,’ Kevin Darst, director of The House of New Beginnings, said. ‘So, anyone with any sexual offenses or violent crimes would not be allowed to come here.’
Darst said the men also have to get a job and pay rent.
‘It’s a structured environment set up to help them get clean and sober and bring some discipline into their life,’ he said. ‘Most of these people have had none, especially if they’ve been on their destructive path for a while.’
If a job is unavailable, they are required to do community service at places like Harrison County Community Services, Habitat for Humanity or the YMCA of Harrison County.
The Corydon-based halfway house started through a community effort in 2006.
‘It was started in order to address the problem with drugs and alcoholism in the county, to give people an alternative and a place to go and get help, instead of just sticking them in jail,’ Darst said. ‘So, it really was some progressive thinking on the part of the people that got it together.’
Darst said what makes The House unique from other halfway houses is the quality.
‘Most halfway houses you run into are old houses and not necessarily the most attractive places,’ Darst said. ‘This is kind of the Hilton of halfway houses.’
It costs about $185,000 annually to operate the facility, which can house up to 30 men.
The Harrison County Community Foundation and the Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition assist funding with grants, although the bulk of the non-for-profit’s income accumulates via resident stay, which totals $100 per week and also covers meals and a YMCA membership.
Another source of funds is The House of New Beginnings’ annual golf scramble.
This year’s scramble, its fifth, will be Saturday at 9 a.m. at Lucas Oil Golf Course in English. There are still openings for those who wish to participate.
Player registration fees are $60 per person ($240 per four-person team) and includes green fees, cart and a meal.
‘We are smoking, on-site, brisket, pulled pork and (also serving) homemade coleslaw. It’s going to be quite the feast,’ Darst said. ‘It’s been a success each year. We probably make about $4,000. This year we are hoping to double that.’
As a smaller fundraiser, The House of New Beginnings sells Black Sheep Coffee. It is also available at KentJava Bar and Red, White and Blush, both located in downtown Corydon.
Keeping The House of New Beginnings operational is important to people like John W., who declined to give his full name. He was living in a van before he moved into the facility in December.
‘I like it because it’s no tolerance,’ he said. ‘Everybody here is seeking recovery; it’s not just a flop house. Some halfway houses in my past, I’ve seen a lot of people are using drugs still. They use it like a homeless shelter.’
Now, John has his own home and the stability of The House of New Beginnings helps him maintain it.
‘I don’t have to be here; I am not court ordered. It is not like a punishment for me,’ he said. ‘I come here of my own free will because I recognized I had a problem and I needed the structure to help me get back on my focus.’
For more information about the golf scramble, contact Matt Conrad at 1-951-870-8742 or by email at [email protected] or Darst at 812-738-3179. To apply for residency at The House of New Beginnings, visit online at