When a woman is down for the count in her addiction there is a place where she can find hope, acceptance and love. It's called Fleming House, the big, yellow house that love built right in the heart of Columbiana County. We would like you to meet Kimmi, Linda and "Dawn."
When you come here," says 'Dawn,' "you know just what you're signing on for. They go over the contract with you. You have to initial every item. If you don't make it here it's because of you."
"We have everything we need here," says Linda. "There is nothing easy about recovery and sobriety. This isn't home. It's a stop for the opportunity to change my life."
Kimmi came from a dysfunctional family. Her dad "came out" and left her mother for another man which pushed her mother into alcoholism. Kimmi says she comes from a "shame-based" way of life. At age 12 she did what she wanted, including shooting up with bikers. She's been to prison three times. She's mother to four children, but doesn't have custody or even contact with them at all.
Linda said, "I had everything-house, cars-anything I wanted. A friend asked me why, when I get to the top, I throw it all away." She lost family, loved ones, everything with her addiction. Something was missing in her life and she just couldn't get it together. She spent 10 years in a suicidal state, arguing with God because He wouldn't just let her die.
'Dawn' came to realize there was a rippling effect for her actions when she went to Fleming House. Nineteen months later she is attending Kent State University, is outgoing and has her head on straight with her future looking great. Still, because of the stigma of addiction and her desire to prove she deserves another chance, she asked that her real name not be used in this story. She knows there are still people who think "once an addict, always an addict," and could prevent her getting that fair chance she's been working toward. She's been sober for 19 months.
"Fleming House has saved my life," she said, and Linda and Kimmi agree. 'Dawn' said she has learned about herself through the 12 Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous. Her problems are her own fault because of the choices she made. She has taken responsibility for her own actions instead of looking for someone else to blame. She has learned to think before she speaks from the heart. And she knows now that she has the power to change things.
Kimmi, at Fleming House for five months, said, "I have learned that the only things I can control are my attitude and my reaction." She doesn't blame her parents for everything that went wrong. "They did the best they knew how." She is now working on "cleaning up the wreckage" of her life.
Linda, a resident at Fleming House for eight months, admits her problems are her own, but explained that her mother enabled her. Loved ones sometimes have a difficult time telling the addict what they need to hear. "I needed her to tell me like it is." Linda was about as low as she could possibly get when she told God she would try one more time, but if it didn't work out she wanted Him to just let her go. She got out the phone directory and started to look for help. Horizon House in the Kent/Ravenna area was the last call she made. And when she left that program, she found her way to Fleming House.
She gives credit for her new-found hope to Horizon House, Fleming House, judges Frost and Tobin, County Prosecutor Gamble, Attorney Doug King, Deputy McGee, family and friends. All of these folks are part of her support system. She is looking into going to Bible college.
Dawn, grateful for the second chance, regularly attends AA meetings and lives the 12 Steps. She knows she can't let the past keep her down. Her life has undergone significant change from the numb state she existed in for so long a time because she didn't know how to deal with things.
Kimmi attends Kent State University where she is working on a bachelor degree. She plans to be a counselor. She is active at Fleming House, and at the time of the interview was excited about the chicken dinner fundraiser that was coming up over the weekend.
All three women talk about their spiritual awakening that came with their new life at Fleming House. They don't want to leave the security, the stability they have found at Fleming House. It provides safe, affordable, drug-free, transitional housing and specialized services for homeless, chemically-dependent women and their children, if children live with them. Having children is not required for residency. They are working on their individual plans for sobriety for the rest of their lives.
September is National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month. For more information about recovery and Fleming House, a program of Family Recovery Center, contact us at 7300 Rose Drive, Lisbon; phone, 330-420-3760. Fleming House is about acceptance, love and hope and is funded by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Ohio Department of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Services (ODADAS), Columbiana County Mental Health and Recovery Services Board, Columbiana County Department of Jobs and Family Services, fundraisers and donations.