PARAGOULD, AR (KAIT) - An addiction program rooted in faith has expanded, with the Agape House program now adding second transition house in the Paragould area.
Sunny Curtis, Executive Director of the Agape House, said the transition houses are for those who are almost ready.
"We have another transition house in the Paragould area for women who successfully fit into the residential portion of the program," Curtis said. "But don't have the family support or job security to go out on their own. They can go into the transition house and move in for up to 18 months."
Curtis said both transition houses are the result of support by local churches.
"We have a house that's been in operation for about two years," Curtis said. "It was given to us by Lake Street Baptist Church providers. This one is being provided by the Fellowship Bible Church. The girls that come here who maybe aren't quite ready to be totally on their own, pay all their own expenses and stuff can come here. They pay a certain amount of rent, have guidelines to follow and then are able to live here. I normally put about four women in each house."
The Agape House works on more than the addiction problem, also working on the entire person and everything that's going on in their life.
"I like to say it's a total life recovery program," Curtis said. "It's for anyone struggling with addiction. It used to be just for women, but now we're here for men struggling with addiction as well. We do budgeting classes, employ ability skills classes, parenting classes and lots and lots of Bible classes. Of course, we also have Celebrate Recovery and then the Overcomers Recovery Support System. We have a lot of interacting with some of the local churches and they get involved and help the girls and now the men and help them get re-established into society."
The decision to open a second transition house came from the overwhelming need.
"The need seems to be never ending," Curtis said. "Every time we expand and make room to assist more people then that, many more people contact us and want in. Like right now our waiting list is closed. We just have to refer people out because our waiting list is so long. We can't even bring anybody in right now. But by opening this transition house, then four people that are in the program but are done with our intensive residential part of the program can move into the transition house. Then that opens up for four more people to come into the program."
Curtis said the decision to close the waiting list is because it's six to eight weeks long, itself.
Right now, they are referring people to other addiction treatment programs while they work to shorten their waiting list.
Jonesboro resident Tammy Hall is in the Agape House Program and is the first person to move into the new transition house.
Hall said if it wasn't for this program, she'd be living on the streets.
"Homeless," Hall said. "I actually lost a job in a profession I had done for forty years and found myself with nowhere to go and not a lot of hope. I knew where I needed to go, though. I've known Sunny for a number of years. I called her, and she told me to come. That's what I did."
Hall said today she is full of hope and is about to complete the final step of the program, which is the transition house.
Curtis said their goal is to do more than help the person rid themselves of addiction.
"They can leave our program instead of being a drain on society," Curtis said. "Being a drain on the prison system or the jail system or DHS, they're contributing productive members of society. And then, they're helping somebody else. It's not uncommon for an Agape graduate to reach out and help two or three other people. We don't advertise. That's how we stay so full. It's from word of mouth. From people who have successfully completed the program and have a family member or friend they'd like to see get some help."
Curtis said they provide for all the client's needs while they're in their program.
"We transport our people back and forth to court," Curtis said. "Back and forth to doctors' visits, to child visits, to look for a job and then when they get a job we'll take them back and forth to those jobs. It's good that they're working when they leave the program. We don't want them to leave without a job and then have to find a job. When they leave the house, the goal is they're already working, and they just continue on. We want them to save money while they're here. So, they have that when they leave and it helps them get re-established into society."
Curtis said when she first founded the program, she had no idea what it would grow into.
"Way back when we started 13 years ago, we just wanted to give addicts coming out of jail a safe place to live while they got back on their feet," Curtis said. "I never dreamed it would turn into six houses and 58 people at a time. And the need is still growing.
There are around 58 people currently in the Agape House Program.
Curtis said they are looking for Biblical teachers for their men and volunteers to help with transportation.
She also said they seem to always have a need for Bibles and tennis shoes.
They also need a couple of dressers, twin beds and a dryer for the new transition house.
Curtis said they're now on the hunt for a transition house for the men in the program.