Spare change can change lives

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)-The Agape House third annual, "Your Change is Changing Lives" fundraiser took place on Friday.

The Agape House works to help women with drug addiction problems get back on their feet and start again.

Executive Director of the Agape House, Sunny Curtis, says

she can relate to what the women she helps are going through.

"I spent a lot of years addicted," Cutis said. " I would get out of jail and I wouldn't stay clean, I wouldn't have a safe place to go so I'd end up using again. And when I did get clean I would meet other women in jail who were just like me that wanted to be clean, but didn't have a safe place to live. So, that's where the dream of Agape House started."

Curtis says these women need a safe, stable home to learn to live drug free in.

"These women come in desperate and hopeless," Curtis said. "When they get here and we tell them about Jesus and what all he has to offer, you can see the light come on in their eyes and see them gaining hope back. They start to care about themselves, they start to care about others. It's just a miracle. Every girl that comes through here is a miracle."

Nikki Ritchie has been in the Agape House program for four months now.

Ritchie says they've given her a chance she never thought she'd have.

"It's given me everything I thought I lost back," Ritchie said. "Drugs don't discriminate. Hopelessness doesn't discriminate. It could be anybody. It could happen to anybody and this place helps you get everything back."

Curtis says they help women not only all over Region 8, but the country.

"We have women from nine different counties right now," Curtis said. "Primarily Greene County, Craighead County, Poinsett County, but we've had people from Ashley County, Lawrence County. Just anybody that wants some help. We've had people from St. Louis and even as far away as Florida."

Shonna Cates has been at the Agape House for sixth months.

Cates says the Agape House program saved her life.

"The Agape House is a fresh start," Cates said. "I think for any hurt, habit or hang up, especially drug addiction. It's changed my life. It's helped me learn who Jesus is and walk new. I can hold my head up high these days."

Curtis says they rely on donations to keep going and the economy has caused their expenses to sky rocket.

"Our expenses in our homes have tripled with the increase of gas prices," Curtis said. "We transport girls to and from work, to doctor appointments, to court visits and so our gas is one of our big expenses. Our insurance is one of our big expenses."

Curtis says it costs them between $6,000 and $9,000 dollars a month to run the homes.

Members of the Agape House collected change in front of the Sonic in Harrisburg from two to six.

"It's saving people's lives," Cates said. "It could be someone's daughter, mother, a sister. And they can just help them get back on their feet and show them the true way of life."

The Agape House has expanded over the years from one to two houses.

Since they first opened their doors in April of 2005, they have helped over three hundred women recover from drug addictions.

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