Shepherd’s House hopes to open transitional home for women

Published 5:01 pm Monday, February 8, 2021

A transitional recovery home for women who are striving to get their lives back on track after battling addiction should be open in March.

The Shepherd’s House Women’s Recovery Housing Program will take the place of Seeing Hearts Transition Home for Men, which has been operated for about 14 months by Andrew Wilkinson in a house on property owned by the Boyle County Industrial Foundation.

Fox said, “I love Andrew’s heart for the community. We supported him every way we could. But no one could have predicted 2020.”

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Fox said it was difficult for Wilkinson to even get into the jail and interview candidates for his program. … Over time it wasn’t working for him.”

As soon as Wilkinson notified the BCIF of his intent to close Seeing Hearts at the end of this month, Shepherd’s House immediately began working with Wilkinson and the BCIF to take over the large home and community building on 10 acres at 3288 Lebanon Road to establish a transitional home for women said Shepherd’s House Community Outreach Coordinator Roger Fox.

Before the program can commence though, a conditional use permit for the property must be approved by the Danville-Boyle County Board of Adjustments. A public hearing will be at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 16 at Danville City Hall.

The need for housing for people in recovery “is a huge issue in Boyle County,” Fox said. “The need for housing for women is the biggest barrier in their returning from incarceration and treatment.”

Fox said Shepherd’s House has operated a transitional housing program in Lexington for 30 years. Boyle County’s women’s program will be modeled after it, Fox explained.

All of the structured recovery services and group meetings including the Circle of Hope meetings will take place at the Shepherd’s House Third Street office. The house on Lebanon Road will be their home, Fox said.

It’s beautiful. It’s a big space. I can’t wait for them to get out there and learn about themselves. You don’t know who you are when you’re beginning your recovery,” Fox explained.

The furnished home has living quarters for eight residents and a house manager, a modern kitchen, huge dining room and spacious family living area. Right across from the home is another large two-story building referred to as the community room, Fox said. It’s outfitted with a ping pong table, exercise equipment and computer stations. “There’s space for whatever they want to explore.”

The women will have time and space to “find things that they’re interested in, like gardening and watching the wildlife. He also envisions community volunteers could come out and teach yoga and other classes.

Shepherd’s House is also partnering with New Vista and Southland Christian Church to help the recovering residents, Fox said.

And with the community’s support and partnerships, “What’s important in recovery is people investing in people,” Fox said. “We want people from the church and from the community, and women specifically, to invest in these women. Help them learn how to be mothers again. How to have relationships with other women, because a lot of times they don’t know how to have healthy relationships with other women. That’s going to be one of the goals we’re trying to instill.”

The home will be staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week, Fox said. The program will also provide case managers and peer support groups.

“The women will also be required to find jobs and pay about $120 a week in rent which includes housing, food, therapy. Therapy alone costs between $80 to $100 an hour “in the real world,” Fox said.

Paying their own way “instills self-worth,” Fox said.

Women who want to participate in the transitional program are required to have a minimum of 30 days sobriety whether they were incarcerated or living at an in-patient treatment facility. Priority will be given to women who are Boyle and Mercer county residents, Fox said.

Eventually, visitors may be allowed so the women can see their families. But they will be closely monitored. “We are very protective of our house for safety reasons.”

Boyle County Jailer Brian Wofford said, “There is a definite need for women to be able to achieve and sustain sobriety in our community. It will provide transitional housing and give them a safe, stable environment and the support they need to rebuild their lives.”

Wofford said, “Kentucky is second in the nation for incarcerated women. … By looking at our jail population, I can see a severe need for this.”

He added, “I’m happy to see our community opening a transitional house for women.”

• The Danville-Boyle County Board of Adjustments will have a public hearing for Shepherd’s House Women’s Recovery Housing Program request for a conditional use permit for the property located at 3288 Lebanon Road at 5 p.m. Feb. 16 at Danville City Hall.

• Women who want to apply for the transitional housing program may call The Shepherd’s House at 859-209-4242.