GREENFIELD — When she looks around the old house along Main Street in Greenfield, Linda Ostewig finds beauty in the emptiness.
In the dust-covered frame, she sees the women battling addiction the house will one day serve. Now, the structure’s walls are battered, worn and tired. But one day, they’ll be beautiful, she said.
With a helping hand, the vision will rise. That’s what the name of this place, “Talitha Koum” means, after all: Hebrew for “Little girl, rise up.”
It’s a call to action that in recent months has gained the backing of a number of area nonprofits that have agreed to use their resources to aid the home’s mission: get women battling addiction back on their feet.
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Two years ago, Friends of Recovery, the nonprofit organization behind the effort, purchased the house at 527 E. Main St. in Greenfield with plans of rehabilitating it. But a drive past the house doesn’t show the most important progress made so far, Ostewig said.
An array of community agencies have pledged their own volunteers and resources to the house once its programs are up and running; their services include child care for children whose mothers are being treated, addiction therapies and life-skills classes. While mapping out how Talitha Koum will make use of those offers, Ostewig has met with leaders of recovery centers across the region, learning best practices and outlining the kind of services that will aid Hancock County’s women in need.
Though much of the progress supporters have made isn’t the stuff of bricks and mortar — though $50,000 has been put into the house so far, with volunteers most recently stabilizing the foundation to ready it for a full remodel — the planning stage is of the utmost importance, Ostewig said: even the most beautiful facility can’t operate without a well-structured recovery program.
Now, advocates are ready to focus on construction, Ostewig said. They seek donations of time — particularly from those with building experience — and money in order to help Talitha Koum come to fruition. A year ago, the group estimated $250,000 would cover the roughly $170,000 needed for construction and $80,000 for the first year’s operating expenses, including salaries and utilities.
Contractors still need to put up walls, build bedrooms, a kitchen and a library, and replace the plumbing and electrical wire — in essence, make it livable. Once the facility is open, Ostewig will run the place as executive director, with help from an assistant and volunteers.
Talitha Koum will house as many as 10 women at a time at a fee of $110 a week, with each staying a minimum of 90 days. During that time, they’ll attend alcoholics and narcotics anonymous meetings, form a partnership with a sponsor and attend therapy sessions aimed at treating the root of their addiction, including any trauma left by physical or sexual abuse.
As part of their recovery, women will participate in life skills training, hosted by representatives from local clearinghouse Love In The Name of Christ, or Love INC, which has signed on to provide courses in money management.
They’ll attend parenting classes and family counseling, as well as additional peer-led group therapy sessions at nearby Brandywine Community Church’s Celebrate Recovery program.
Safe Families for Children, a faith-based nonprofit organization that finds temporary homes for children whose parents are facing some sort of hardship, has also agreed to help. The county’s chapter of the group has promised to find care for the children of Talitha Koum residents, taking the burden off mothers who need to focus on healing.
Talitha Koum’s program is modeled after those offered at the Indianapolis-based Dove Recovery House, which enrolls some 50 women annually in its programming and boasts a nearly 75 percent success rate — meaning woman leave the place clean, with a job or heading to school, ready to be self-sufficient, according to executive director Wendy Noe.
Noe has been meeting with board members of Friends of Recovery, helping them learn the ins and outs of creating a well-run recovery house. The main goal, she said, has to be making the obstacles between the woman and the clean, healthy life she wishes to lead as few as possible.
“There just aren’t enough facilities,” Noe said. “And the moment that a woman decides she wants to get help, that is the moment she needs to walk through the door and get assistance. It only takes one more overdose, one more try of heroin, and she could die.”
With an outline of their program in place, those behind the house are looking to assemble a team of volunteers from local construction companies to help in their spare time.
Electricians, plumbers and carpenters occasionally stop to tour the place, to see if they can take on the project, said Steve Ostewig, Linda’s husband and a member of Friends of Recovery; but no one has stepped forward to take the lead.
The nonprofit is prepared to buy construction materials, Linda Ostewig said, but they’re hoping crews will give their time.
And that offering will speak volumes to the women the place will eventually help, Linda Ostewig said.
“It would show that they believe in this cause,” she said. “That they believe in lives changed.”