- Associated Press - Monday, April 6, 2015

ELKHART, Ind. (AP) - In October 2014, Shannon Wiebold had nowhere to go.

After five years of sobriety, she received devastating news about her then 5-year-old daughter and relapsed into heroin addiction.

She lost her car.

She lost her job.

She was about to lose her house.

“My life was going every way but a good way,” Wiebold said. “The SPA house was the only place I thought of to go. I made the call one night and they welcomed me with open arms.”

Spiritual and Personal Adjustments Women’s Ministry Homes, a faith-based treatment program for women struggling with drug addiction, domestic violence, depression and prostitution, offers a six-month residential program for women who need to “push pause” on their lives and get a fresh start, Executive Director Carrie Zickefoose told The Elkhart Truth (https://bit.ly/1CBDGjg ).

The program includes daily Bible study and devotionals, life skills training, financial management classes, job placement services and recovery group sessions led by pastors and counselors.

While inpatient addictions treatment can cost up to $400 per day, Zickefoose said SPA works to keep costs low. Most of the women in the program have their stays sponsored by local churches, individuals and businesses who partner with the ministry, she said.

Wiebold had tried four or five other treatment programs in her quest to get sober, but none offered the ongoing support and acceptance she gets from SPA, she said.

“In other programs, it doesn’t feel the same,” she said. “You finish your 30 days or your 90 days and they send you on your way saying, ‘Nice to meet you’ and that’s it.”

At SPA, women spend six months in the residential program, then have the option of continuing in a six-month transitional program where they can be reunited with their children, get a job and start reconnecting with the community.

This is Wiebold’s second time going through the residential program. A stay at the house in 2010 helped Wiebold get sober and stay clean for five years.

“I know I can do it,” she said. “Five years is a long time for an addict to be sober. I did it last time with the help of this place.”

At SPA Wiebold lives with 11 other women, ranging in age from their 20s to their 50s, in a brown brick house on Old U.S. 20. The home’s living room has been converted to a study, where each woman has a desk to work on her assigned devotions and other homework. They share chores and kitchen duty.

“It’s a lot of work, but it’s uplifting to me,” Wiebold said. “Nothing is just handed to you, you have to work hard.”

Wiebold will finish her time at the SPA house in June and move to one of the ministry’s two transitional homes. At that home, she will be reunited with her 6-year-old daughter, who is living with her father while Wiebold stays at the SPA house. The organization will even help Wiebold find a job and give her a car to use to get to work.

The United Way of Elkhart County gave the ministry a $5,000 grant this spring to help its Wheels to Work program, which provides women in the transitional houses with vehicles they can use to get to work. After they complete the transitional program, the women pass the vehicle to another woman starting the program.

“We found that one of the first things these women need when they leave us is a vehicle,” Zickefoose said. “They need a vehicle to get a job, but they need a job to get money to buy a vehicle. It’s a catch-22. This program gives them a short-term solution.”

The women are responsible for fuel costs, but community partners such as Maple City Chapel, New Life Community Church and Stutzman Motor Sales help cover maintenance and repairs for the vehicles, Zickefoose said.

During the transitional program, women work with a financial case manager to set up a savings account and save money to buy a car once they complete the program.

“It’s a big worry off my shoulders,” Wiebold said. “It eliminates those stressors and I can see a higher rate of success for me.”

Wiebold says she’s focusing on improving herself and looking forward to being reunited with her daughter.

“Things were good before (the relapse),” she said. “We had our own house, a dog and a cat. I really just want to be a mom.”

She says staying more connected to the program after she finishes - returning, as many former residents do, for devotions, recovery groups and movie nights - will help her stay on track. Eventually she’d like to be a mentor in the program and help other women on their path to sobriety.

“Never lose hope,” she said. “This program and the ladies here are more than willing to help and don’t judge you based on your history. There’s no reason to give up or lose hope as long as there’s programs like this.”


Information from: The Elkhart Truth, https://www.elkharttruth.com



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