Former addict cleaned up act, now director of halfway house
Kaitlyn Clay, Staff Writer, [email protected]
Meghan Stockdale can still remember the feeling of the gravel rubbing the side of her face, the sounds of a canine barking in a cop car nearby and the vibration of cars flying by her from 10 years ago. She had spent the hours prior to this doing something she was all too comfortable doing: robbing pharmacies at gunpoint.
Stockdale said she had always been a great student and, after getting a scholarship to college, she immediately fell into the wrong crowd and began partying too much and too often. That partying quickly fell into an addiction to drugs for Stockdale, and she found herself doing nearly anything to get access to more. After choosing to leave a pharmacy in the middle of her attempted robbery, she was met with police at a roadblock.
“A detective, who I still think about all the time as a life changer, looked me in the eyes and said he didn’t think I was a bad person, just that I had made bad mistakes, but that it wasn’t too late,” she said. “I cracked and started crying and told him to take me to jail, that’s where I needed to be to get better and out of the environment I was in.”
Stockdale served three years at Rockville Correctional Facility, where she lived in a treatment dorm for a short period. In this rehabilitation dorm, inmates attend therapy and counseling. But after doing her mandatory nine months, she didn’t want to leave and petitioned the leader of the program to allow her to stay on as a peer mentor, helping new inmates adjust to the program when they first join.
“For the first time in my life, I felt like I was doing something I was supposed to be doing,” Stockdale said. “I started reading self-help books and realized the girls needed to know this information. I started writing all that into programs, and the directors were crazy enough to let me teach classes and take this material and present it in ways that made sense to an addict like me and share it with the other women.”
That spark and passion for teaching and caring for others never burned out for Stockdale as she knew this is the path she should pursue after leaving the correctional facility. She went back to finish her schooling once returning home and earned her certification in counseling, with a dream and goal of opening or being a part of a halfway house.
Enter Jeff Skaggs, an adult probation officer in Corydon, who Stockdale met while working to create recovery plans with inmates during her time employed at a private counseling center. Skaggs was working with the Harrison County Substance Abuse Prevention Coalition to develop a halfway house in Corydon. After a couple years of planning and a few setbacks, Skaggs and the board asked Stockdale to be the executive director of Genesis House, a halfway home for women in Corydon.
Located at 500 N. Capitol Ave., Genesis House, which opened Aug. 5, is home to seven women and has space for 15. Each woman stays for six months but can opt to move downstairs and manage the house at night for up to three additional months.
Before the women are accepted into the home, they must have a clean drug test and pass an interview with Stockdale. They can’t have any residential robberies, assault and battery charges or any sexual offense charges in order to be accepted.
Once they are residents, the women are submitted to random drug testing, must pay a small rent each month and attend therapy, counseling and goal-setting workshops with the staff.
“We are trying to be an active part of the community,” Stockdale said. “We are helping do crafts for the prosecution office’s trick or treat night, we went on a recovery walk, we went to the candlelight vigil for overdose awareness held in the square and we want to do more volunteering with different organizations in Harrison County.”
Stockdale said people are welcome to sponsor or donate any items to the house if they feel called to do so. She said any personal hygiene items or sealed groceries are always accepted. They also accept monetary donations to the house, which will go directly to items for the women, such as groceries or to help pay bills on the home.
“Substance abuse affects everyone,” Stockdale said. “When people are using drugs in the community, it ultimately costs the community. If we can bring people in here and get them well, it creates this ripple effect, and, by fixing one, it fixes so many more. The more resources we have for this the better chance we have to fix this problem. We can turn a mess into a message, just like I have tried to do with myself.”
Stockdale was also notified last week that Genesis House is a finalist for the Impact 100 grant. Three non-profit organizations across Harrison, Floyd and Clark counties were selected to possibly receive $87,000 in grant funds. Stockdale said they will find out the winner on Oct. 29.
To donate to the Genesis House, reach out to its Facebook Page or call the home at 812-225-5310. Stockdale also noted that anyone interested in a tour of the house or a community partnership is welcome to stop by or reach out to her.