This year marks the 40th anniversary of Our Hope’s Association 13 bed Treatment Center for Women.
Located in a 100 year old Heritage Hill home in Downtown Grand Rapids it is a milestone they have reached quietly – too quietly, some might say. Since 1972 generations of women have passed through the doors of Our Hope at various points in their struggles with alcoholism and addiction. Celebrating on October 11th at Circle Theater A Gust of Hope will celebrate Our Hope’s 40th Anniversary of guiding women to recovery. This one of a kind event, will celebrate this one of a kind recovery home, and will be rooted in compassion, honesty, healing, and hope.
Says Carmel Loftis Board Member and Co-Chair of A Gust of Hope, “Each year, more than 9 million women face a struggle with alcoholism and/or addiction. Many of these women may not recognize the depths of their struggle, while others – about 1.2 million annually – seek treatment on their paths to recovery. Together with Our Hope staff, professionals, friends and partners we looked at alcoholism, addiction, and recovery through today’s lens and asked the hard questions: What do women most need now? How can we continue to work as an independent, meaningful force for transformation in their lives? As a result of our efforts there is a new legacy of hope and continuation to bring the very best help available for women that has the warmth and passion that was there from 40 years ago. Loftis continues, “We have a very unique situation at Our Hope as many of us are volunteers whose parents were the founders and helpers of this great center. We also have alumni who walked through the doors of Our Hope 40 years ago. New volunteers also want to be part of helping women to recover. Where would we be with out our donors over the last 40 years and now in this cutting edge economy? We have a lot to celebrate especially our continued independence,” Loftis adds.
Carolyn Avery, Director of Our Hope says, “Our Hope was founded to provide a voice for women against a disease know for shame and silence. Women come to Our Hope because it is one of only a few organizations nation wide that are solely dedicated to a women centered approach to recovery. Women come from all walks of life they are your neighbors, my neighbors, school teachers, mothers, daughters, sisters, grammas, lawyers, and presidents wives. Our Hope is an inviting space where women participate in a variety of programs, including residential and intensive out patient treatment, individual and group therapy and more. Each woman that seeks help has an individualized treatment program. Our residential Program provides services up to 90 days and more if needed.”
Carla lives in Grand Rapids and is an alumni of Our Hope. In 2002 she was arrested for her 2nd drunk driving offense in East Grand Rapids with her two pre-school children in her car. She was a stay at home Mom with a college degree and says she started drinking in her freshman year of college. She says: “I was ashamed to admit I craved alcohol as soon as I woke up in the morning. I drank vodka to hide the smell. My husband and family knew that I drank daily but no one ever confronted me until, I was arrested with my children in the car. I was so ashamed of myself I wanted to die. I was distraught at the hurt I was causing my family. My husband was beside himself with grief and anger. He decided that he had had enough and held a family intervention for me. My mom, dad, sister and a close friend were all there working together to help me see I needed help. Accepting that I had a problem was tough . . . even though it was so obvious! My sister had heard about a women’s residential recovery center called Our Hope. She lovingly brought me to the doors of Our Hope where I was welcomed with open arms. I stayed for the full 3 months and I now have 10 years of sobriety.
Carla’s husband Bob says “I often had a drink with Mary when I came home form work. It was part of our daily lifestyle. Our house was always orderly and clean and Carla expertly managed our household fiances, so it was easy to ignore her drinking. On weekends we would attend social events where there was drinking and usually we had to leave early because she would become intoxicated. I wasn’t ready to acknowledge that she had a problem. We never talked about it! After the first arrest I was supportive of her and I thought it could happen to anybody, but after the 2nd arrest and she had our children in the car, it was obvious that we needed help. I was done making excuses for my own behavior and ignoring her illness.
Carla says, Our Hope was the perfect place for her. “My path to a life of recovery began at Our Hope. The women centered treatment was right for me and it was in a home where I felt especially safe. I am so thankful that my family brought me to Our Hope. I will forever be grateful to Our Hope for upholding my dignity and helping me to build strengths and the resources for my recovery.“
The women and their families who seek our help remind us there is still much progress to be made. As Our Hope approaches their 40th anniversary, the group is stepping out to share their voices in bigger ways. This will begin with A Gust of Hope, a one-of-a-kind community event to be held on October 11, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. at Circle Theatre in Grand Rapids. A Gust of Hope is about more than celebrating Our Hope’s history. It will be an evening of powerful storytelling and performance that raises awareness about alcoholism and addiction and the unique ways these diseases affect women, their families and their communities. One of West Michigan’s 50 Most Influential Women and a valued advocate for recovery, Judge Sara Smolenski will be featured. Through her light comedy and others’ music, song, dance and more, guests will be immersed in stories, invited to consider how addiction affects lives, and feel inspired by the promise of real change.