GREENFIELD — Linda Ostewig’s legs were shaking as she made the request.
$75,000, she told them. That’s all they need to complete construction of Greenfield’s first recovery house. To open its doors to up to 10 women battling addiction who have nowhere else to turn.
The fundraising options for Friends of Recovery, the nonprofit organization behind the Talitha Koum recovery house, were drying up. And its leaders didn’t know how they’d come up with that last chunk of money.
So county leaders stepped in, saying local recovery houses are desperately needed and deserving of public support.
Story continues below gallery
The Hancock County Council and board of commissioners have agreed to give $75,000 of taxpayer dollars to the house on east Main Street in Greenfield. The funding comes from the county’s food and beverage tax fund, charged to diners at local restaurants.
Currently, Hancock County is home to only the Hickory House, an upscale private rehabilitation center that opened along U.S. 40 last summer.
There are no halfway houses or other low-cost options, and nothing catering to just women, a challenge Indianapolis also faces, court treatment specialist Amy Ikerd told the council when making the funding request.
When the vote securing that last $75,000 was final, Ostewig, who will serve as the home’s executive director and has led the effort to develop it, felt her legs nearly give out. She choked back the tears and offered a simple thank you.
That contribution will speed up the home’s opening by about a year to 18 months, she said.
Nearly three years ago, Friends of Recovery started making plans to provide housing for people battling addiction — which for the past three years has killed more people (from overdoses) in Hancock County than car accidents.
In November 2016, the group took ownership of a $40,000 house at 527 E. Main St. in Greenfield.
It was Ostewig’s vision — to help women and their families grappling with addiction — after watching her own daughter struggle with an alcohol addiction for 11 years.
Since then, the nonprofit’s board of directors has been raising the estimated $170,000 needed to rehab the house and make it livable.
With the $75,000 the county contributed, organizers will be able to complete construction. And a grand opening — a day organizers have long dreamed of — is finally in sight.
The house needed much work — building bedrooms, hanging siding, replacing plumbing and electricity. At the start of their effort, there was no kitchen in the home.
Now, the walls are up. A plumber is expected to start work soon. And throughout the house, colorful signs indicate what each room will soon become. A library. An office. Bedroom No. 1.
For months, organizers have worried about sheet rock, insulation and tile, said Carol Wright, a member of Friends of Recovery.
Now, with funding in place to complete construction by spring, they can start focusing on programming.
The home’s programming will be modeled after the Dove Recovery House in Indianapolis, and leaders there have worked with Friends of Recovery to help shape it.
Women will stay a minimum of 90 days and will pay a service fee of about $120 a week, which will help offset some of the home’s operational costs, leaders have said.
During that time, they’ll be required to attend alcoholics or narcotics anonymous meetings, form a partnership with a sponsor and attend therapy sessions aimed at treating the root of their addiction.
They’ll participate in life skills training and any other counseling they need, be it parenting classes or family counseling.
A house manager and residential assistant will be on hand 24/7, leaders say, and they’ve started their search for candidates to fill the positions.
Leaders also will rely on sponsorships and grants to help operate the home, estimated to cost about $80,000 the first year. They hope to eventually become a Recovery Works site, a program by the division of mental health and addiction that provides funding to cover treatment programs for uninsured Hoosiers who have committed a felony.
Ostewig already is getting phone calls from families hoping a bed at Talitha Koum is open for their daughters, sisters or mothers. When the next call comes, she’s eager to tell the caller one will be ready soon, by spring or early summer.
“When they approved the funding, I envisioned for the first time the women walking through the front door,” Ostewig said. “It was pretty overwhelming.”
County council president Bill Bolander said helping organizers complete construction of the house will set Hancock County women struggling with addiction on a path toward a better life.
With a local recovery house that’s affordable to Hancock County residents, the community will be better off, he said.
The county’s contribution marks the second donation funded by tax dollars. In 2017, the city of Greenfield pledged $25,000 toward the effort.
Now, the project has become a community-wide effort, Wright and Ostewig said.
“When we first started this, it was a hope, a dream. A void we needed to fill,” Wright said.
“It’s not just somebody who had children who struggles with addiction. Now it becomes a community home. A community vision,” Ostewig said.
This month, the Daily Reporter tells readers what issues and projects county leaders expect to tackle this year. We’ll update you on everything from education to business and development. Watch upcoming issues of the Daily Reporter to learn more about what to expect in 2018.