CUBA — In this tiny community, one home is dedicated to providing addicts with an opportunity for a better life.
New Housing Ohio owns that home, and Jerry Taylor manages it with help from Brian Martin. Both say the facility creates a structured environment and teaches men to be honest, accountable, responsible, to work hard and to take pride in their work.
It doesn’t provide treatment, but rather a place to live while seeking treatment.
“It’s going to be like night and day from the day they walked in here” to the day they leave, said Brian Martin, a recovery house specialist.
“They can stay here for an indefinite period of time as long as they obey the rules … and there is progress,” Taylor said. “This is not a flophouse.”
Taylor said the facility can house 10 men and currently houses three. It also has a kennel, a stable and a workshop area that Taylor hopes to use in the future.
New Housing Ohio also owns a facility in Blanchester for women’s recovery.
The rules for residents are stringent.
Every morning, the men are awake by 7 a.m. and beds and breakfasts must be made. There’s an hour-long meditation period, which can include reading recovery books and a house meeting. Residents are expected to get jobs (though not right away), pay $70 per week for their stay, do house chores, obey a curfew, give up cell phones for their first 30 days and submit to drug testing.
On jobs, Taylor said expecting an addict to recover on his own after releasing him to his old environment is like “throwing him to the wolves.”
Instead, he said, “Their sobriety has to be the most important thing in their life because without sobriety, a job, becoming a productive citizen, going back into society ain’t going to happen.”
To help defray their costs, and to help the facility with upkeep, the residents can earn money helping mow the facility, which includes more than 15 acres of land.
“It’s a big step,” Taylor said. “It’s probably the biggest step these men have taken. … These guys have a sickness, and this is a safe, sober living environment.”
Taylor is also looking for organizations that would be willing to give help defray the $300 joining cost that’s incurred by participants in the program.
And, Taylor wants to create a work program for people after they’ve been part of the program for some time in order to give back to the community. The program would provide laborers to clean homes, mow yards or do other chores.
Taylor said it’s been difficult to provide transportation to the men, who go to Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous meetings, report to probation, show up in court and attend therapy or counseling.
Taylor and Martin share one truck that they use to ferry the men back and forth, but Taylor said probation, court and treatment officials have helped reschedule the men’s appointments to make transportation easier.
Not without controversy
Taylor said he’s also had a hard time fighting rumors about the site and what it does. He says he’s worked to build inroads in the community.
“It has to be a community effort for this to work,” Taylor said.
Doug Haag, who pastors at Cuba Friends Meeting, said Taylor spoke at the church and assuaged concerns of those there.
Haag said he’s noticed people in the community have concerns about the house being in their community, but said the church’s members, for the most part, understands it’s a needed facility.
“The thing is almost every family, somewhere in their family, they’re affected by the drug epidemic,” Haag said. “I think there’s a feeling that this is needed.”
Additionally, Haag said, from the information he has and from what he’s seen, he doesn’t think anyone has reason to be greatly concerned.
“The men that are going to be there are going to be there because they want help,” Haag said. “At this point, I think everyone is comfortable with it.”
Washington Township Trustees, however, say NHO hasn’t contacted them about the project and said they only found out it came to Cuba when a neighbor complained.
“They’ve never come up and talked to us,” said Trustee Randy Hibbs. “We were told the grant had been turned down, and they weren’t going to be there.”
Trustee Jon Sharp said, “We were told that would be a woman’s facility up there” at a meeting of assorted county officials in October.
Sharp said the trustees have received complaints from 12 to 25 people, and fiscal officer Julie Eastes said eight people attended a meeting to complain about it.
“A lot of residents, they didn’t think that’s the kind of thing that needs to be out here,” Sharp said, suggesting that one in Wilmington on South Street, near where Bob and Carl’s used to be and near where Solutions Community Counseling and Recovery Centers is, would better serve the county and those seeking treatment.
“You have everything close, centrally located,” he said. “It just sort of fits better than out in the countryside.”
Hibbs added that he was concerned about security because it was across the road from the Bergeferd farm market.
“I was totally against having it across from Bergeferd farm market,” Sharp said. “They have kids come out every year. … And right across the road here you’ve got a” recovery home.
Hibbs said the trustees did everything they could to stop it. He and Vernon Gregory, another trustee, said zoning regulations couldn’t have stopped it, as some residents voiced. Hibbs pointed to Blanchester, which has a NHO facility for women, as proof of his claims.
Taylor said the group takes its commitment to the community seriously by requiring residents to be sober when they enter, forbidding any products with alcohol, enforcing strict curfews and requiring drug testing.
For both Martin and Taylor, recovery is personal.
Martin and Taylor are former alcoholics. Martin has been sober for five or six years, according to Taylor, and Taylor has been sober for 29 months and free of drugs for three years. Taylor had been sober for almost three years but went out to drink and got in trouble.
“It was the best thing that ever happened to me ’cause it humbled me to everything,” he said. “And that’s the insanity that we’re dealing with. I will never be cured, but I do have the tools now – with sponsoring, fellowship, AA and my church” – to handle it.
Martin said the facility’s main goal is to teach people to use those tools and surround them with others who are learning to use their tools too.
“Clinton County is taking a stand on this — our people are more important. Our community is more important,” Martin said. “It’s a lifesaver, and in this community, with all the heroin overdoses and everything that’s going on, you know that this has been called for for many, many years in Clinton County. And here it is. Let’s save some lives.”
To learn more, call Taylor by dialing 513-554-4567 or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Reach Nathan Kraatz at 937-382-2574, ext. 2510 or on Twitter @NathanKraatz.
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