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It was once a place where children played and learned. Now, years later, it's a place of a different kind of learning. And with that learning, there is hope.
The House of Hope has opened on North Columbia Avenue. Formerly Dawn's Childcare, the house is now a transitional home for recovering drug addicts.
And on North Central Avenue, J&W's House of Hope has been opened with the same concept, giving hope to recovering drug addicts looking for a place and people to help them learn to live a sober life.
Dawn Cox-Neal and her husband, Bryan Neal, are the owners of The House of Hope. The Rev. James Washington and his wife, Wanda, are operating the second house.
Opening a transitional home was discussed when the daycare had become a home of sleeping rooms. Dale Gaines, who had been staying there, told Cox-Neal that he thought it would be a good idea to have the home available exclusively to people who have completed the program at The Healing Place.
"It was a God thing," Gaines said. "I was sitting here and the idea hit me. There's this force like we need this here."
Gaines, who lives at The House of Hope, will be the manager of both houses. He will oversee that residents are abiding by the rules and pay rent.
Cox-Neal said she and her husband thought the idea of opening such a home was a good one. As soon as the current tenants moved, she said, the transition began.
Washington, who works at The Healing Place, said he and his wife had wanted to start something similar and began looking for houses they could convert. And now, the house is ready.
"An idea became a reality," he said.
As he worked with the men at The Healing Place, Washington said he realized they need a place to stay as they transition back into society. Staying at such a home will allow them some freedom, but also the comfort of staying with those going through similar struggles.
"They need some place they can call home," Washington said.
And Cox-Neal, who works at the Taylor County Detention Center, said she enjoys helping people and seeing them succeed. She has a degree in human services and counseling.
"So it's kind of my thing, children and families," she said. "I just like people. Love people."
Gaines, who is from Louisville, competed The Healing Place program and has been sober for three years. He said he has been involved in the startup of many such houses and hopes this one will be successful.
"The idea was put in my head and I couldn't shake it," he said.
Shannon Gray, who serves as director at The Healing Place, said he believes the transitional homes will help those who want to recover from their addictions. Having a transitional home to help addicts re-enter society will only strengthen their chances of staying sober, Gray said.
"This is one of the better things to happen to Taylor County," he said.
There are 14 beds available at the homes - five at The House of Hope and nine at J&W's House of Hope. They are available for men only.
Gray said women who need drug treatment can come to The Healing Place and he will assess them and work to find a spot at a female facility. He said he hopes Taylor County will one day have a facility for females. And, the Neals and Washingtons say they would consider opening a transitional home for females, if the ones open now are successful.
Those eligible to stay at the transitional homes are those who have completed a drug treatment program, from drug court to The Healing Place to others.
"That's very serious about staying sober," Cox-Neal said.
Renters will sign a lease agreement, which is a week-to-week contract, and pay a $160 fee for the first week and a $75 deposit for a key. From then on, rent will cost $80 a week.
Those staying at the homes must attending recovery meetings and have a mentor to help them. Gaines and others will help in that arena.
So far, the idea of a transitional home has been well received in the community, Cox-Neal said.
Gray said those who leave treatment centers and move back in with family members often go back to their old habits. But living with others going through the same struggle, he said, will help give residents accountability to each other.
The Neals and Washington will pay the utilities at their homes, which rent will more than pay for. But they say the purpose of the homes isn't to make money.
"I'm all for helping anybody," Cox-Neal said.
Washington said those who live at the home will be responsible for their own food and other living expenses.
"They are self reliant," he said. "We just provide the home and the safe environment."
Gray said he believes the homes are needed in Taylor County. He said 15 to 20 people call The Healing Place each week looking for a place to attend treatment.
Washington and Cox-Neal say they hope operating a home will help residents.
"I primarily hope to produce an environment where the [renters] will want to maintain their sobriety and want to better themselves and go on to be productive in society."
"I hope to learn a lot," she said, "and to help people move on."
Gray said he will refer those leaving The Healing Place to the homes.
"These people could use these resources," he said. "Just recovering is great, but when you find something you're passionate about ... your chances of sobriety are that much more."
Washington said several local businesses have donated to the homes, and he is grateful. Cox-Neal said anyone wanting to donate items such as desks, beds or mattresses to the houses are welcome to do so.