By CLINT FOSTER
Texas Crime Statistics indicate that over the past 12 years Mineral Wells has seen an overall upward trend in crime. While several local programs have been working tirelessly to make Mineral Wells a safer place, one in particular has striven for years to change hearts and rehabilitate those who struggle with addiction, abuse and/or a life of crime.
It is called Addiction Recovery Ministries, or better known as A.R.M.
Violent crime and property crime have increased significantly in the area. In 2010, the city rates for violent and property crime dwarfed the national rates by 38.62 percent and 54.19 percent, respectively. Consequently, the rates for these crimes in Mineral Wells exceeded the state's average by 24.26 percent and 19.91 precent.
Keep in mind that the Lone Star State experiences a violent crime every five minutes and a property crime every 35 seconds, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety in 2011. That means one murder every eight hours, one rape every hour and one burglary every two minutes.
If these trends hold true, Texas Crime Statistics projects crime in Mineral Wells will continue to rise. Statistics indicate that by the end of this year there will have been a total of 53 more crimes than in all of 2010.
A.R.M. is a faith-based program, lasting six months to a year, that seeks to help its clients overcome addiction, poverty and the issues associated with each.
"It's just always been a passion for me," A.R.M. director and local pastor Ted Oliver said. "We began with just two people back 10 years ago, starting in a home. From there it just grew and grew and grew. Today it's just a tremendous ministry. There's nothing quite like it in all of our area."
Oliver, a 40-year veteran of the ministry, said that his program covers about 75 clients a week in 20 different classes, all of which cater to the specific needs of each client as recommended by their case worker and the A.R.M. team. According to Oliver, A.R.M. handles an average of 100 clients a year who are on probation or parole and has enjoyed a whopping 75% success rate within this group. In other words, A.R.M. successfully rehabilitates 75 people a year who turn from a life of crime and thus are taken out of repeat-offender status.
"Here's the difference between other programs and ours: the difference is 'Life Recovery,'" Oliver said. "Others just do addiction recovery. Also, people come to us as part of a court-ordered mandate. So, if they don't come, they're in violation of probation. There's a legal involvement that we have that other programs do not."
The Life Recovery Program involves a life-skills curriculum that focuses on important topics such as building positive family relationships, parenting and anger and money management. A.R.M also includes a men's shelter and newly purchased women's unit. The Women's Center, which Oliver said is set to open in about two months, includes many beds and rooms for both single women and those with children. It will boast a Montessori-style daycare school and 24-hour support for whatever the women staying there might need.
A.R.M. has developed a strong reputation and support from the community. Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan believes the ministry is filling an essential service gap in the area.
"I think it's very admirable, the effort that Pastor Ted and that entire group at A.R.M. is engaged in, trying to get people addicted to various substances some help," he said. "Any type of follow-up that gives people a choice and options during the recovery process."
The ministry of addiction recovery is one that has been close to Oliver's heart for a long time. He has seen first-hand the effect that addiction can have on a family and a marriage.
"My wife had a pretty severe drinking problem; her father was an alcoholic," he said. "It caused a lot of frustration in our family because we have three children and there were times when it caused a problem. But she got healed of that through a combination of psychiatric care and, of course, a faith-based program similar to the one we're doing."
With his wife healed, the Olivers made it their mission to help those with similar problems. They began taking many children and young adults into their home who came from less than ideal family situations and backgrounds. Since then, they haven't looked back and now their ministry is the preeminent recovery program in Palo Pinto County.
With a program like A.R.M. so active in the community, Mineral Wells' recent trends in crime could see a sharp turn south. And any projections that indicate Mineral Wells could be a more dangerous place in the future, will be a thing of the past.
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