Ruth’s House and Esther’s House
In the waning days of 2022, Guiding Light signed the ink on the purchase of two homes, which we are naming Ruth’s and Esther’s (in honor of two Guiding Light Spiritual Directors), to provide recovery housing to women in the Grand Rapids area. Recovery housing, or sober living as many know it as, is reserved for people struggling with substance abuse disorder that need a safe, accountable place to live while they get their life back together. Many seeking sober living are fresh out of semi long-term inpatient treatment programs such as those provided by community partners like Pine Rest, Sanford House, or Hope Network.
What Works For Men Can Work For Women
Over the past ten years, Guiding Light has provided men with access to a four-month, intensive inpatient treatment program at no financial cost to them. We have also offered men that graduate the program the opportunity to move to Iron House, which provides recovery housing for up to 42 men. The Guiding Light Recovery program over the years has proven to be immensely successful. Our metrics show that 77% of men that graduate the program, find a job, and move to Iron House, achieve a year or longer of continuous sobriety. But a question we often get is ‘why is this life-saving program is not available to women?’ Well, this year, we are proud to say we are changing that. With the purchase of Ruth’s House and Esther’s house (named after two Guiding Light Spiritual Directors) we have become fully committed to making it our mission to expanding the Guiding Light Recovery program to include men and women. We are far from the end of our goal. Ruth’s House and Esther’s are two homes which will be made available to women recently out of inpatient treatment who are seeking sober living. But it is the first step in creating, for women, what will become a dedicated substance abuse treatment program that is every bit as life-changing, intensive, and successful as our mens-only Recovery Program.
Our first resident, Tori, a member of the Grand Rapids recovery community, has been working with us over the past several months in helping to make this dream a reality. “I’ve been talking with Brian Elve (Guiding Light Executive Director) about helping with women’s recovery and I wanted to get involved, so I decided I would move in to Esther’s House as the House Manager,” Tori recalls. For those unfamiliar with sober living, it is the duty of the house manager to make sure that certain rules are enforced and that residents are accountable to each other. Life in recovery is about community, but it is also deadly serious, and there needs to be a clear understanding from the top down what is expected if one wants to live differently. “I have my other job but I will be there looking after the women, making sure they are doing what they need to be doing what is required of them in order for them to live there. And it is really cool to be on the other side of this, its crazy actually, because I’ve been clean for a while now but I remember when I was in that same spot that the women that I am working with were in, and it is really humbling to be able to give back now.” There is a phrase often repeated by men and women in recovery that ‘the therapeutic value of one addict helping another is without parallel,’ and it is something Tori takes to heart. Her goal, she says, is to ultimately continue to be of service at Guiidng Light and be an instrumental part of creating our standalone recovery program for women.
“I found out about Guiding Light a while ago and I started coming to some events. And as I learned more about the program I just thought it was so amazing…that first of all it was free—like what addict coming off the street has the thousands of dollars you need for treatment? I love that they gave everyone a chance to come in and get clean, and then that they give them four months is so crucial, because 30 days is barely any time to be off the streets. And then they see therapists and spiritual directors and life coaches…and they work with people to find a job, and then they can save money and move out to their own sober living, and I just think the process is amazing. The more I learned about it the more I appreciated Guiding Light…and when I found out that they were planning on expanding the program to include women I knew I had to get involved.”
The Power of Community
Tori is an example of how the power of community is our biggest strength here at Guiding Light. Just as the inverse is true for addiction, the power of recovery is something that draws talented people from all walks of life together. We could not do this without you. Because of you, the struggling women of our community will have a place to call home. Because of you they will have an opportunity to focus on building a life for themselves that is worth staying sober for. While recovery housing for women is a great start, our vision for a full recovery program for women is critical. It will give women a chance to get sober, to stabilize in their recovery, to be a thriving member of the community, and to live as an example of someone who has found a way out.