CORNING, AR (KAIT) - A faith-based drug addiction program, which recently announced plans to expand to open a men's house, has seen success in providing help for the entire family, officials said Thursday.
The Agape House Program, which has been around for over a decade, announced their male house is full of clients with a waiting list.
Earlier this year, the program announced it was expanding once again.
The Agape House helps women battle their addictions and puts them on a positive path to a successful future.
Their last expansion happened in 2016 when they renovated a church in Corning to become their larger female facility.
Director Sunny Curtis said when that happened they began working toward a new goal that is about to become a reality.
"This time we're realizing a dream we've had for several years now," Curtis said. "We are branching out to allow husbands of our female clients into the program. We're not trying to become a men's recovery program. But we've definitely seen a need for when a wife comes into the program, for the husband to be able to get clean at the same time. That's something we've wanted to be able to do for a while. And now, it looks like it's happening."
Curtis said they've been working on this for a couple of years now.
"We've wanted to open a house for husbands," Curtis said. "Even since we opened our larger house in Corning for women. We wanted to use our smaller house for the husbands of women that were in our program. So, the whole family could recover together. We needed a man to be our house coordinator for the husband house. I believe we have found the perfect person for that now. He's a Godly man whose been through an excellent program. So, he's had some excellent training himself."
Curtis said this is a crucial move in keeping families together.
"Since we've started," Curtis said. "We've seen a pattern of when the wife gets clean, if she goes home to a husband that's still using, she falls back into the addiction. Instead of her being able to pull him up, he pulls her down. Even with the best intention, unfortunately, that's what happens. So, we wanted a way for the whole family to be able to recover so the family could stay together. So, the wife won't have to leave the husband in order to stay clean. They will be clean together and the children would have both parents. It's just a win-win all the way around."
Their next step was to find a house coordinator for the Agape Husband's House.
After a long search, they found him.
Jonathon Bricker will soon be running the Agape Men Facility.
Bricker said he was honored when he was contacted about the position.
"I thought it was a blessing to be asked to take on such a responsibility," Bricker said. "I prayed about it a lot and God just kind of put it on my heart and lead me straight to it. Everything just seems to be falling into place. Everybody is excited about it. I just thought it was a blessing to be asked to help lead people to Christ."
Curtis said the program covers everything needed to help their clients become their best self.
"We don't do this," Curtis said. "Jesus Christ does this through the Agape House. He brings about the change in the individual's life, but it's a total lifestyle change. It's not just getting clean from the drugs and alcohol. It's learning how to be a parent. It's learning how to go to work and come home. It's raising your kids in the right kind of atmosphere so that when they're grown you're not going through that same situation with them. The women and now the men that come into our program, they'll have budgeting classes. They'll have parenting classes. And we fully expect the men to participate in everything. We do 12 step recovery, classes that celebrate recovery and overcomers. Marital counseling. It's the total package. It's everything. It's not just how to live clean from drugs and alcohol. It's how to regain your life and be a contributing, productive member of society."
Curtis said she feels Bricker is the perfect person for this position.
Bricker said he hopes to use his past experience to help others.
"I went down a long road of addiction," Bricker said. "Growing up in school I was really good at football and baseball. Played for some Dr. Pepper teams and tri-county teams. I got to try out for professional teams. I got to college and started drinking a little bit. That lead to more stuff and more stuff. My baseball career fell out from underneath me. And when that happened it just seemed like everything went downhill from there. So, I went from what I thought was the top to just nothing. I absolutely hit rock bottom. When I finally was brought to Breaking Bonds, I realized that rock I hit was Jesus Christ. What I thought was living, you know, sports was all just vanity. It was pointless. Life doesn't have a point without God. Now that I have come to Christ I want to give back. And I want to lead people to Christ, so they know they don't have to lose their family. Their family is always there praying for them and wanting them back. You just don't realize that when you're in an addiction. You get lost."
Curtis said investing in the parents of Region 8 is investing in our community's future.
"If the parents can get clean," Curtis said. "Then hopefully the children will not ever even venture that path. This will be prevention for them. If parents are using, then chances are the kids are going to grow up and be addicts too. And that's a sad fact. But if the parents can be clean and the kids can grow up in a clean environment then maybe they'll never walk down that road."
Bricker said he's excited about the opportunity to help others.
"They know I've been through it," Bricker said. "So, they know if I've been through those things and I've overcome it, they can as well. God doesn't put us in any situation not to grow."
Bricker said he believes the men who sign up are going to jump at making a positive change in their life for their family.
"If he has an opportunity to go through the program as well," Bricker said. "And can change with her and grow with her through Christ then there's nothing that can stop them. If you build a relationship on Christ, it's just unstoppable. It's an honor to be able to start a ripple effect with a family right out of the gate. It's just going to be a tremendous wave that I think will have a great impact on this whole area. I think God's moving big time right now. He's using Sunny and Jennifer. They are two of the most wonderful people I've ever met."
Curtis said the need in the area is larger than people realize.
"I think addiction has touched everybody," Curtis said. "The need is so big and every time we expand I think we're as big as we're going to get and then we outgrow whatever space we're in."
They serve clients from all over the area.
"Primarily, we see people from Craighead, Poinsett, Cross, Greene, and Lawrence counties," Curtis said. "We normally see most of our clients from the Northeast Arkansas and Southeast Missouri area. But we have had people from all over Arkansas come into our program. Some people from out of state, as well."
Curtis said they're starting the Husband House on a very small scale.
"My hope is to see families reunited," Curtis said. "Parents raising their children in a good, healthy environment. The Agape House is just a stepping stone to that."
The Agape House Program is almost 13 years old.
They currently have two locations in Oak Grove, a step-down facility in Paragould and two locations in Corning.
Curtis said they hope to have their first male client in by April 15.
For more information about the Agape House, click here.