Expectations at Iron House
On the second Saturday of every month, men living at Guiding Light’s Iron House are invited to come downtown to our facility in Grand Rapids for breakfast with the residents of the Guiding Light Recovery program. This week, however, Executive Director Brian Elve called all of the 40+ men into the building at 7am to review the rules and expectations of Iron House.
Iron House is the Next Step
Every man gathered this morning was, at one point, desperately struggling to string together minutes, days, and weeks of continuous abstinence from drugs and alcohol when they came through our doors. Not every man that arrives at, or even completes, the Guiding Light Recovery program is guaranteed the opportunity to move to Iron House. Although Iron House offers clients a significant degree of independence and dignity, it is still expected that they follow certain guidelines. . This is the reason Brian called the men together—to reiterate that they are not entitled to live at Iron House, and that they are expected to continue working on and improving themselves. “You can imagine as your numbers grow and we buy more properties it gets a little bewildering. We got different locations, you got guys that have been out there a year, some guys been out there one month, some have been there three years, it can get confusing. Our position is, as we add more and more men to the houses, sometimes you have to add more structure.” Upon moving to Iron House, men are still expected, just as much as they were in the recovery program, to continue to become the best, God-given version of themselves that they can be.
Setting an Example
One of the most important aspects of living at Iron House is to be a good example to the men following in your footsteps. “You guys don’t want to hear my voice after a while being in the program here, these men need other people in their lives,” Brian said. “That doesn’t mean you have to come down here and say ‘oh Guiding Light is great Guiding Light changes lives,’ Guiding light doesn’t change anybody’s life, you guys change their lives.” The key component undergirding a client’s success through the Guiding Light Recovery program is the community provided to men that have spent years detached, alone, and isolated. When deciding whether or not a client will be permitted to move to Iron House, their willingness to stay connected to their peers is an important point of consideration. “When you take time to sit down and talk to these men and show them that life in sobriety is actually possible that is so powerful, I believe that God speaks through you guys, and I cannot tell you enough the impact that’s possible for you to have on these men, you have this bond that you get from Guiding Light. We need you to help these men, I really think in a way it’s kind of a duty.”
Iron House started out as an experiment. The concepts of community, mutual support, and strength in numbers are the primary reasons we see long-term success from our clients. These principles are reinforced in men, who many would agree were the farthest thing from “principled” for most of their lives, through Iron House. Since its founding Iron House has become a rousing success, a net positive for our clients and their surrounding community, and it is all because of you.