By Christy Porter, Managing Editor
Addiction and its consequences are not only detrimental to the addict but to their family, the community, law enforcement, the judicial system and society as a whole. Oftentimes in addition to a helping hand, help attaining the knowledge and the continuing support to sustain a change in behavior is needed.
If not addressed the problem worsens; families including children who must be cared for by someone, loved ones who feel helpless in the cycle, law enforcement that continues to deal with repeat offenders, and a judicial and penal system that is overwhelmed by recidivism are all victims of someone’s addiction. One critical need for a societal pandemic that continues to escalate in the area is recovery and re-entry support services.
Texas County has a Child and Family Empowerment Center (CAFE) called Serenity Mansion. Serenity Mansion offers services that include care coordination, peer coaching, pastoral counseling and recovery housing, particularly in regards to addiction recovery and re-entry. They provide goods and services to truly empower children and families in need. While not licensed to offer medical detoxification, they can offer referral resources if needed. CAFE and the Serenity Mansion is an access resource point for all treatment facilities in the Eastern Region. The Houston facilities do not house men, but can locate contacts and resources for men dealing with addiction and its effects. They work with individuals but are also a community outreach program for those in need and with community organizations.
A second Houston facility is being opened with additional housing and a community center. The first Houston facility opened under the leadership of Tiffany Bohnenkemper, SW Regional Program Coordinator, in April of last year. She will supervise the second Serenity Mansion and the community center as well.
“God keeps bringing me to small towns,” shares Bohnenkemper.
The Serenity Mansion is a six-month, zero-tolerance rehabilitation program that is a resource for those who have an addiction, and a source of hope for those who are coming out of law detainment facilities. Random drug tests and room checks are a part of the program, and honesty to self and others is a top priority. The counseling and meetings don’t end after six-months; they continue for as long as a person has need of them.
The women in the facility are mentored to make a life altering change in their thought processes and actions. They are taught and encouraged to recognize, accept and move forward from past habits and actions, and move forward with a positive, healthy and responsible outlook on life. They need the mental, emotional, and physical support to maintain a lifestyle free of drugs. When they recognize the bad choices of the past and can resist those same bad choices in the future, their success rate improves tremendously.
The Serenity Mansion women are not allowed off the premises for 30 days after entry, but visitors, including children and family members, are allowed during that time. This is a God and faith based supervised program where progress is monitored and a Toolbox program is specifically designed for each individual to make recovery sustainable. The women participate in cognizant behavioral and family reunification group discussions, meditation, one-on-one counseling and probation requirements, if applicable. Many enjoy field trips with the group including movies, plays and river jaunts. Bohnenkemper said, “Some of the trips are totally new experiences for the girls.”
Growth and accountability are essential; Bohnenkemper prompts both then steps back and lets them be adults. They are expected and assisted in getting and retaining employment within the community and providing for themselves to a great degree. This includes life skills such as budgeting to provide living expenses and preparing their own food. The women continue to live in real world situations, learning how to make healthy choices for themselves and society; for some it may include continuing education. They must take personal responsibility for themselves and the residence (three bathrooms serving eight women were observed to be SPOTLESS) and respecting other inhabitants’ space and belongings. They are encouraged to participate in volunteer and community service opportunities.
The women are motivated to stop reacting and start responding responsibly; they learn who they are, what their reality is, and what they want it to be.
The Recovery Souldiers re-enter society with self-worth, clean, sober, and better prepared to move forward in life without addiction. More than half of the women coming out of the program work with DFSS and get their children back. Considering the six-person facility opened 10-months ago with a six-month program, the results have been very good, with a large majority of the women performing well in the 16 areas of Souldier Engagement. Six women have rotated through the program and are returning as active members in society.
Local entities that contribute resources to the Serenity House are Sweetwater Network, LLC, The Texas County Food Pantry, the Licking Assembly of God, the Houston Health Department, Celebrate Recovery at Faith Fellowship, Program on Probation, the Ministerial Alliance and Dr. Tammy Albrecht, MD.
The facilities are maintained by grants from the parent organization, CAFE, based out of St. Louis since September 2018. CAFE has two homes and one community center located in the metropolitan area, and is now extending its outreach to rural areas.
CAFE is a tax-exempt 501 C3 organization and all donations are tax-deductible and are appreciated. CAFE Serenity Mansion may be reached at 573-280-1527 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.