By CLINT FOSTER
After almost a year-long journey, Addiction Recovery Ministries has finally opened the doors of its new Women’s Life Recovery Center with three women and two children residents.
The center, which opened Thursday, exists to help women in the Mineral Wells community overcome addiction and poverty while giving them a place to stay, rent-free, and rehabilitate. It’s the latest development in ARM’s crusade to help local people in need.
“It’s hard for women out there,” new women’s center resident Stephanie Tedlock said. “Sure, you could go to a homeless shelter, but they don’t help you with building blocks to be able to be out on your own. I’m 28, I’ve never had my own place. To be able to have the opportunity to work on my self and still provide for my son... It’s not only an opportunity for me to build myself, but also help other people in the process.”
Tedlock was the catalyst of ARM Director and Paster Ted Oliver’s mission to create a women’s center for his ministry. Oliver met the single mother on Dec. 4 of last year and – as he has done so often throughout his 40 years in recovery ministry – let her and her son Josiah stay at his home that night. As she described the squalid conditions in which her family had to live, Oliver was mortified.
ARM already had a residential program for men and the Life Recovery Program that serves an average of 75 clients a week through a life-skills curriculum, which boasts a 75-percent success rate. But at that point, it was clear to Oliver that a key need in the ministry was not being met. He made it his mission to find a home for single mothers.
Meanwhile, Oliver, whom Tedlock affectionately calls “Poppa Ted, “ baptized her and assured her that she would be the first to call the women’s center home as soon as it opened.
Eleven months later, the dream has become a reality.
“I was thinking about it this morning,” Tedlock said. “I woke up and I don’t have this heavy weight on my shoulders of if I’m going to make rent. I was at a motel for four months before this opened. It’s a big relief to know my son has a roof over his head.”
Also among the new residents is Amber Collier, who finished a six-month stay in state jail last Tuesday and immediately looked into moving into the women’s center. She said she had heard of ARM through her sister in-law before she was arrested, but wasn’t ready, at the time, to seek help. Now that she has been to jail, Collier said she is ready to make a change.
“I’m tired of that life,” she said. “I’m going to work on doing better. It feels good to be getting something good going for people. We’re excited to see it grow.”
Like Tedlock, Collier also has children and said she is working on reuniting with them and getting them moved into the center as she starts a new life.
Although the women’s center is open, the process has not been without bumps in the road. Live-in Residential Administrator Emily Bean said she and the other residents found out the evening before the center opened that they would be moving in. She and her husband quickly found themselves thrust into the situation, albeit a situation they were eager to undertake.
“I’ve had to be really flexible,” she said. “But once it happened, everyone was calm and it felt really peaceful and right. It didn’t feel like chaos. We really fell into a natural rhythm.”
Rooms for the three residents and other parts of the building are complete, but the majority of the structure is still under minor construction. Bean said the center is also still in need of a great many donations and a new alarm system to meet the city’ s fire code – an expense the ARM staff did not anticipate.
Bean described the center as “inhabitable, but not ideal.” Among the many things they still need – besides the completion of the construction – are counter tops and cabinets for the kitchen, new flooring, computers and cosmetic work on the outside of the building. They also desperately need beds if they want to grow, as they currently only have enough beds for the current residents. Almost everything the center already has was received through donations, emphasizing the importance of giving to the ministry’s survival.
Even though the center is modest and somewhat incomplete, the residents and Bean could not be happier with their situation. Bean, Tedlock and Collier all agreed that they were glad the group started out small, as they are already forming a close-knit, family bond.
“It’s peaceful,” Tedlock said. “You can tell when things start to get going that it’s going to be very helpful.”
ARM told the Index last month that they plan to have 25 people occupying the new women’s center within the first couple of weeks, making the need for donations all the more pressing. Several area churches, namely St. Mark Lutheran Church, have already stepped up to begin collecting items for the center.
Many prominent members of the community have given ARM and its facilities, especially the new women’s unit, glowing reviews. Mineral Wells Mayor Mike Allen, Police Chief Dean Sullivan, Palo Pinto County Chief of Juvenile Probation Robert Kimbrell and County Community Supervision and Corrections Department Director James French are just a few of the prominent local officials who have publicly voiced their support.
Those interested in making donations should call ARM’s office at 940-325-7499 or simply drop donations off at the office at 112 S Oak Ave. ARM also still has many raffle tickets on sale for their classic Model T Roadster, with all proceeds benefitting the women’s center.
For more information about ARM and the Women’s Center, visit their website at www.addictionrecoveryministries.org.