Work to remodel two empty Willoughby homes has begun, with the goal of transforming them into Friends of Recovery homes for women and women with children.
The first of the two homes, which will be named “Arukah Home for Women,” is designed to house women recovering from drug abuse. The word Arukah means “healing and restoration” in Hebrew.
Friends of Recovery Northeast Ohio recently purchased the two homes on Euclid Avenue, with a goal of furthering their ministry to its halfway point. According to director Dennis Anthony, Friends of Recovery NEO hopes to open six homes — three for men and three for women.
An existing home for recovering men, named “Tikvah,” which means “hope”, has been in service for about two years on Euclid Avenue.
“We’ve had plans all along, from the very beginning, to open six homes,” Anthony said, stating that the organization has been around for a half-decade. “This opportunity became available to where the homes were side by side, next door to one another. And we saw it as a great opportunity to be close to the men’s home, but not on the same grounds.”
He added that the proximity will allow the men and women to help each other at their respective homes.
A “fill the Dumpster party” was held on June 8 at the two new locations. Community members from Friends of Recovery, churches, support groups and more gathered to gut the houses and prepare them for remodeling.
Anthony said that more “parties” will be held in the future, such as a painting party. As a result, the community will continue to make the homes habitable.
“Our plan is to do the first home, which is what we’re calling the bigger home,” Anthony said. “That one will be renovated and we will have ladies living in it by the end of this year.”
The home on the left, Anthony said, will be a project for 2020. The plan is to make that home habitable for women and children.
“Our thinking is, with them next door to one another, they’re going to be able to help one another,” Anthony said. “One house will help the other. Because we do a lot of community events. The men and the women both have a community life-recovery support groupthat’s open to any male and any female. And it’s not just people with substance issues, it’s anybody…”
A Friends of Recovery NEO men’s support group (called Journey Men) and a women’s group (called Sisterhood) meet once per week. Sisterhood will continue to meet at Willoughby Bible Church until the women’s homes are complete, Anthony said. They currently have about 20-22 members.
“We’re only allowed to have four in each home (unrelated by blood or marriage),” Anthony mentioned. The restrictions are due to city zoning requirements, he said.
“We’re not a group and we’re not a rehab house or anything like that. We’re a single-family residence and what we teach the people that live in the homes is how to be a functional family.”
He added that the learning involves sharing a single kitchen, sharing bedrooms and bathrooms, living with a house manager and “working on life’s problems together.”
Anthony stressed that the homes are not sober houses, halfway houses, transitional houses or rehab facilities. The organization’s mission statement reads: “Provide Christ-centered recovery homes offering hope, healing and restoration for individuals recovering from addictive substances.”
“We are a recovery home,” Anthony said. “What we do is we offer individuals — that are bought into the recovery, that are working in the recovery program — a safe place to grow in the recovery. Because the highest relapse rate is right out of treatment. The first 12 months, 50 to 90 percent will relapse.”
Those who are accepted into the home have to demonstrate to Friends of Recovery NEO that they are actually invested in their recovery and are making changes.
“We invite them in and we surround them with the recovery community of people,” Anthony said. “Not just their house family. We have an extended family outside that is the recovery community.”
A summer luncheon and fashion show will be held Aug. 15 at Manakiki County Club to benefit the new Arukah Home for Women. More information and tickets can be found by contacting Sue Anthony at 440-669-9599.