Athens’ first women’s transitional housing center will open at the beginning of 2018 after a longtime effort by local women in addiction recovery.
Jayne Darling, the president of the Women in Recovery Board, said as a woman recovering from addiction, she recognized the need for transitional housing following rehabilitation or prison sentences.
“What we were seeing was women who were going through recovery were not ready to return to independent living,” Earl Cecil, the executive director of The Athens-Hocking-Vinton Alcohol, Drug Addiction and Mental Health Services Board, also known as the 317 Board, said. “They went through the intensive work to learn how to be sober, but to return to the community, they were at risk of falling into their old crowd who would trigger their use again.”
The 317 Board helped with technical assistance and moral support for the Women in Recovery group. Cecil oversees many local recovery and mental health facilities but said there is no transitional housing specifically for women in Athens.
Darling said women in recovery face specific challenges men do not.
“Most of them have children and have lost their children to children services,” she said. “Most of the fathers are not in the picture. … They have a battle in front of them to try to get their kids back, which is something men don’t have. … It’s a little bit tougher for women.”
The idea has been in the works for about a year and a half, Darling said. The group of nine board members, all of whom are volunteers, has been advocating for the development with local bodies of government and filing paperwork.
“It’s been an adventure and a challenge, but the hard work is great,” Darling said. “We have a great board and volunteers. … We have a combination of people with a lot of talent.”
The group recently purchased a house on a 7-acre plot of land for $232,000. The house is in the Athens area near state Route 56. For safety reasons, Darling said the board would not disclose the exact address because some women have restraining orders.
The state granted Women in Recovery $190,000 for the mortgage and facilities, but none of that funding goes toward operations. Women staying in the house will be charged rent, but many people are not able to pay, so the operations are dependent on volunteers. They have received donations from local individuals and institutions, such as OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital.
Darling said the goal is to be open Jan. 1, 2018.
“Addiction is rampant here,” she said. “It’s destroying families and taking lives, and we believe there’s a way out of it. We want to help folks find that way.”
Originally published for The Post on Sept. 6, 2017.