Leave Feedback

A house of their own

Sue Guinn Legg • Feb 17, 2012 at 8:15 AM

A move is under way in Johnson City to open the region’s first Oxford House transitional home for women recovering from addictions.

Layla Wright, executive director of the Appalachian Social Advancement Project, said volunteers have been working with the international Oxford House organization since December to meet the local community’s need for transitional housing for women who are coming out of drug and alcohol treatment and need a place to live and continue their recovery free from negative influences that may have contributed to their addictions.

Once established, Oxford House homes are self-sustaining, supported and run by the residents who pay the rent, vote on the rules and, according to statistics, maintain sobriety with much greater success than those who do not have the drug- and alcohol-free home environment the houses offer. Start-up costs are estimated at $5,000 to $7,000, which Wright said is needed to secure a lease and cover the rent until the house is fully occupied. Resident referrals for the local house will come from area treatment centers.

Dr. Patrick J. Macmillan, a physician who treats people with addictions at several area hospitals, said research shows transitional housing is “a vital piece of the puzzle for anyone starting her life over.”

“As a psychiatrist who has worked with recovering alcoholics and drug addicts, it is apparent to me that our area has a need for transitional housing for single women that will support their early recovery work,” Macmillian said.

While there are existing transitional housing options in the Johnson City area for men who are recovering from addictions, Wright said the closest transitional housing facility for women completing treatment in located in Asheville, N.C.

“A local house would fill a tremendous need, providing sober living space and an opportunity for women to regain their independence,” she said.

To help make the house a reality, Blue Moon Dinner Theatre, located downtown at 215 E. Main St., will host the first in a series of fundraising events planned for the new Oxford House on Monday evening from 6 to 8. The benefit will include a silent auction of items donated by area businesses, live music by The Jane Scarlett’s ensemble, food by Earth Fare and Sheridan Nice, executive chef and co-owner of Mona Lisa’s Gelato, and a presentation of “Recovery Monologues,” written and presented by women in recovery.

Donations of cash and of new or gently used household items to help furnish the house will be collected at Monday’s benefit and at a couple of fundraising events tentatively planned for April and May. Wright said volunteers hope to raise $5,000 to $7,000 in start-up costs and gather enough furnishings to open the house this spring.

For those who can’t make Monday’s benefit but would like to help, donations may be made by mail to Oxford House Appalachia, P.O. Box 942, Johnson City, TN 37605. Wright said donations of $2,000 or more should be made payable to Oxford House Inc. and earmarked for Oxford House Appalachia.

More information about the project is available online at the Oxford House Appalachia Facebook page and at Oxfordhouse.org, or more information may be obtained by emailing Layla Wright at laylac.wright@gmail.com or calling 773-5519, or emailing Tabitha Edwards at tabithamed@gmail.com or calling 620-1321.

Good Samaritan Ministries is accepting tax-deductible donations to help a Blountville family with the cost of a long course of in-home training for an assistance dog to help a 12-year-old boy with a nocturnal seizure disorder.

With help from Good Samaritan supporters and others who have contributed directly to the family or made donations through the “Seizure Dog for Devon” page at www.youcaring.com, the family has already met the $2,500 cost of a one-year-old golden retriever named Rain with special training that will help both Devon and his family sleep easier.

Devon and his mother, Lynn Colley, will travel to West Tennessee early next month to meet Rain and to allow Devon to spend two to three days with her in compatibility training. Upon their return to Blountville, Lynn said Rain’s service-dog skills will be put to immediate use and her professional training will continue in their home weekly for the long term.

Their hope is that Rain may someday be able to alert them to Devon’s seizures before they happen. In the meantime, Lynn said Rain will alert others in the house when Devon is seizing, or if they are alone, pull him away from any objects that could harm him, push him over and position herself against him in a such a way that will help prevent him from choking and retrieve a phone for him to call for help when the episode is over.

As is, she said, Devon’s bed has been moved next to hers. He is afraid to sleep at night. And neither of them are resting well. Rain will give him the independence he needs and deserves and bring both of them greater peace of mind, Lynn said. “He could be a 12-year-old little boy again, without having his mother right next to him all the time.”

For those who would like help, donations to Good Samaritan Ministries earmarked for “Devon” may be made online at www.goodsamjc.org or by mail to Good Samaritan Ministries, P.O. Box 2441, Johnson City, TN 37605.

More information about Devon and Rain can be found online at www.youcaring.com under “Seizure Dog for Devon.”

If there is a need or a project in your neighborhood the Good Neighbor column can assist with, contact Sue Guinn Legg at slegg@johnsoncitypress.com, P.O. Box 1717, Johnson City, TN 37605 1717 or 929-3111, ext. 335.

Recommended for You