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On the Promise Road


                                                                                                                                Photo by Shari Harris
Sweetwater Network Executive Director Rita Foster, left, and Promise Road Program Manager April Polm offer help for women desiring to escape addiction or unhealthy lifestyles.
By Shari Harris
Co-Publisher

Sweetwater Network, Inc., has another resource for meeting their mission of “mobilizing people and resources to reduce recidivism.” Promise Road, a sober living facility for women, celebrated their Open House Friday. At their location at 116 East Main in Houston, Promise Road will provide a structured, six to nine month program for women recovering from addiction or unhealthy lifestyles.
The eight-member, all-volunteer board of the Sweetwater Network has worked to offer assistance and support to 200 clients in Texas County since June 2018. With a 60 percent return rate to prison for Missourians on probation, and with Texas County ranking second for poverty in Missouri (2018 Missouri Poverty Report), resources are very necessary; in equal measure they are difficult to come by. Four hundred Texas County residents were on probation in December 2019. The annual expense to taxpayers of imprisoning 60 percent of those, if their probation were revoked, is $5.04 million. Dollars spent on Sweetwater Network’s mission equal savings for all taxpayers. Since 2018, founder Rita Foster directly credits the Sweetwater Network for the success of at least 12 locals in avoiding a return to jail, with many others potentially affected.
Promise Road is the latest addition to local resources for those needing assistance. The first client was scheduled to move in on Sunday, March 8, which coincided with International Women’s Day. The second was expected a few days later. Initial plans are to gradually increase the number of clients to six, with an overall potential for eight. A House Mom will reside there also, so the women will have 24-hour supervision and assistance. Manager April Polm will direct programs with the women during the day, including how to find and keep employment, budgeting, living skills, chores, responsibilities and promoting GED or classes to further their education. Christian support groups are part of the program as well, with ministries at three local churches at least three evenings a week, and with the women expected to attend church on Sunday. Random drug tests will be completed for all participants, and there will be zero tolerance for drugs or alcohol. House members will also be expected to find and maintain employment and pay weekly house dues.
The client must be dedicated to succeed through the program in order for it to work; a stringent vetting process is completed before house members will be accepted. The women must learn to build positive relationships with staff and each other. House Manager Polm says, “This is a family; we’re going to work things out as a family.” If Polm and Foster are any indication of the dedication to this family, the group will have strong role models from whom to learn.
Promise Road and Sweetwater Network are supported 100 percent by donations and volunteers. One attendee of the Open House exemplified the giving nature of supporters. She had heard about the Open House while at Walmart and came over to help. Her offer was made quite simply but spoke volumes, “What do you need?” If you or someone you know is a woman who needs help recovering from addiction or unhealthy lifestyles, or if you would like to know how you can help the program succeed, you can reach Rita Foster at (417) 252-0829 or rfoster.advocate@gmail.com or April Polm at promiseroadsl@gmail.com.

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