TERRE HAUTE —
A foundation that stepped out on faith to give women with addiction problems a new beginning is now seeing the fruits of its labor.
Three women have graduated from the Next Step program, and they eagerly shared their story recently in the hope that others find recovery in a clean and sober environment where they can transition back into society.
Stacey Edwards and Aja Haynes both graduated from Vigo County Drug Court last week, while in September, Kay Rickard became the first graduate. Even though they are finishing their time at Next Step, they all hope to stay involved and be encouraging to the current and future participants in the program.
“The ultimate goal is to be involved here as much as I can,” Stacey said. “I hope to do mentoring to show them the program works.”
Next Step began accepting residents last spring. It is Terre Haute’s only women-only home for women overcoming addiction issues.
Located at 619 Washington Ave. in a former Presbyterian church, the program is overseen by the Next Step Foundation, a group of area residents who purchased the church property and received donations of furniture, services and funding from individuals, groups, churches and businesses.
Both Stacey and Aja agree that the participants who don’t make it through the program — who relapse into drug and alcohol abuse — aren’t ready to change.
“They don’t have an open mind, and they’re not willing to work at it,” Stacey said.
She speaks from experience. Now age 25, her struggles with alcohol abuse began years ago.
“I received my first DUI before I turned 22. And my second before I turned 23,” Stacey said. “And so I was ordered to Drug Court. I relapsed twice. So between me and my father and the court, we agreed to try something new.”
She already had taken drug and alcohol courses, and was participating in 12-step programs. But she found success in her assignment to Next Step, where the structured environment took her away from her old habits and friends into a new setting.
“Ultimately, the real problem was not my drinking. It was my thinking that was the real issue,” she said. “I had to switch up and become responsible.”
She moved into a dorm room at Next Step with six other females — and she is quick to note that being housed with other women trying to overcome substance abuse issues of their own is not the easiest environment in which to live.
But, Stacey said she found her own voice during her time with Next Step, so that she wouldn’t get stepped on.
“I had to learn to speak up for myself,” she said. Through a life-skills class, she learned how to set boundaries that both she and others can deal with in a positive way.
“When I do get feelings of hurt and being angry, I know what to do now,” Stacey said. “I won’t let it build up.”
As Stacey spoke about her Next Step experience in the resident lounge of the recovery house, she was joined by Aja, who was fresh from an appearance in Drug Court. Aja was pleased to announce that she had been sentenced to 915 days of informal probation and credit for time already served in jail.
But she is most pleased about the relationship she is rebuilding with her 3-year-old son, who has been in foster care since Aja was criminally charged with methamphetamine-related offenses.
She recently saw him during play therapy, and he was happy she was able to play with him.
“He got really clingy,” she said of the toddler, smiling at the memory.
And while she wants to be reunited with him soon, she said is not going to rush the process.
“I can’t wait to get him back, but I want to be prepared,” she said of her life after Next Step.
Her two older children — a 9-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl — live with their father in Indianapolis. She is also rebuilding a relationship with them as a sober mother.
Aja said she has been in and out of jail and the court system since 2005. She tried intense outpatient treatment as well as the county drug and alcohol program, but her real change has come at Next Step.
“I had no clue how to stand up for myself,” the 26-year-old mother of three said.
She now has a job that she loves, and she has been offered a supervisor position. But before she jumps at that possibility, she is patiently considering how it will work with her scheduled time for support meetings, her children and her sober life.
“Something I’ve never had before is patience,” Aja said, “and that’s something this program has offered me.”
The program’s first graduate, fondly known as Mama Kay by the younger residents, recently moved out of Next Step to be with her family during her daughter’s recovery from a medical issue. Kay was a night manager for a while, and she earned the respect of the other residents.
“She’s blunt and she’ll tell you how she sees things,” Aja said.
Kay is a great-grandmother and entered the program after a stay in jail due to a meth addiction. Her children and family had stopped speaking to her and she was drifting from dope house to dope house. But during her six-month stay at Next Step, she transformed her life and restored her family relationships
The changes in Kay, Stacey and Aja have been dramatic, said Next Step executive director Dana Simon, and she credits that to the life recovery skills that the women learn, as well as to their determination to make changes.
Sadly, some women assigned to Next Step have failed the program on their first attempt and have found themselves back in the court system. And some of those women have returned as “double steppers” who are more serious about their sobriety.
Dana said that both she and the Next Step board had to go through some growth to learn what kind of sober living facility they wanted to be.
But they had help from others working in the recover community — most notably the men of the Club Soda and Turning Point sober living houses.
In fact, Turning Point resident Mike walked his wife Kimberly Edmondson to the door of Next Step about three months ago and encouraged her to get into the program so the couple and their children could get their lives back together as a family.
On a recent weekend, Kimberly and Mike had a 24-hour visit with their five children in the family room at Next Step.
“We got to put them to bed, give them showers and make them breakfast,” Kimberly said. “I got to put them to sleep for the first time in five months. We said our prayers. It was 24 hours just like a real family.”
Kimberly and Mike have worked with the Department of Child Services to rebuild their relationships with their children — and with each other.
On a recent weekend, Kimberly and Mike went canoeing with other couples, and they had a leisurely cookout that didn’t end with people getting drunk and fighting.
The recovery community has been receptive to Next Step, Dana said, with many groups stepping up to do repair and improvement projects to the former church and its education wing, which is now the women’s living center.
“Because in the recovery community a lot of people want to give back, we get a lot of projects done,” Simon said.
But even though work projects are now completed on the Next Step property, another step is ready to be taken in the community, and that is transitional housing such as duplexes, Simon said.
Aja agreed that while she feels ready to move out on her own, she would prefer to have transitional housing near and associated to Next Step to keep her recovery foundation strong.
“It’s about love and limits. Having external boundaries as well as internal boundaries,” Aja said. “It’s not magic. There’s a program to follow.”
If people do not make it through recovery, it is because they have rushed and process and are not ready, she said.
“They’re not patient. You don’t give it time to feel it in here,” she said, rubbing her chest over her heart. “It doesn’t happen overnight. It will be a lifelong process for me.”
Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at -812-231-4254 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.
Staying sober, fighting addictions
TERRE HAUTE —
A foundation that stepped out on faith to give women with addiction problems a new beginning is now seeing the fruits of its labor.
- Local & Bistate
For Piper: Annual ‘Rush the Punter’ event dedicated to Dixie Bee student who died Wednesday after a short illness
Steve Weatherford’s “Rush the Punter” fundraiser at Fairbanks Park on Saturday was dedicated to a little girl who lost her life unexpectedly to pneumonia.
Vigo schools prepare to tighten belts
State funding for the Vigo County School Corp. will remain “pretty flat” for the next two years, said Donna Wilson, chief financial officer.
Veterans take to the trees
Cristal Bednar took photos of her husband, Justin, as he laboriously climbed his way up a “Dangle-Duo” to get to a zipline at Indiana State University’s Sycamore Outdoor Center.
Property owner seeks halt to Hulman Lake dam project
A Terre Haute property owner is seeking an injunction that would at least temporarily halt the city’s work on the Hulman Lake dam project.
Tornado veterans balance preparedness, practicality
Few things in nature are less predictable than a tornado. They can form quickly. They strike weirdly, leveling one building while leaving its neighbor untouched. They can fling a car a half-mile and turn a piece of lumber into a wall-piercing missile.
ISU unveils interactive Bayh Family Legacy Wall at school
A who’s who of Indiana Democrats paid tribute to Evan Bayh and several generations of the Bayh family Friday during a dedication of a new interactive display at Indiana State University.
Can you smell me now?
A contraband cell phone has been discovered by the Vigo County Jail’s youngest and most unique officer.
GIVING BACK: Steve Weatherford buys shoes for kids day before charity run
Terre Haute’s Steve Weatherford, punter for the 2012 Super Bowl champion New York Giants, showed once again his generosity Friday by donating new athletic shoes to more than two dozen Vigo County kids.
N.Y. Giants honor Weatherford as ‘Man of the Year’
Dan Tanoos, superintendent of Vigo County schools, remembers the first time he saw Steve Weatherford as a freshman at Terre Haute North Vigo High School.
Sunday recital at The Woods
A recital featuring songs from well-known composers is at 7 p.m. Sunday in the Church of the Immaculate Conception at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.
Police investigating rash of car window shootings
Terre Haute Police are investigating a rash of shootings that have shattered car windows throughout the city.
City hospitals get passing grades for patient safety
Two Terre Haute hospitals have been ranked for patient safety by an independent organization that assesses safety, quality and affordability of healthcare for Americans.
Three from Operation Turn and Burn sentenced in federal court
Three co-conspirators in a Wabash Valley methamphetamine trafficking ring were sentenced this week to several years in federal prison.
Illinois Senate approves medical marijuana bill
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn must decide if he will sign a measure allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes after the state Senate approved legislation today.
Vigo County Jail Log: May 17, 2013
The following individuals were booked into the Vigo County Jail by area law enforcement on Thursday, based on jail records.
I-70 resurfacing project will close westbound exit ramp
PUTNAM COUNTY, Ind. – The Indiana Department of Transportation announces the resurfacing project on Interstate 70 will close the westbound exit ramp at Indiana 243 beginning Wednesday May, 22 at about 6 a.m. until 9 p.m. that same day to mill and resurface the ramp.
UPDATE: Fire damages buildings in downtown Greencastle
GREENCASTLE, Ind. — Fire badly damaged several buildings today near the courthouse square in Greencastle, with flames shooting through the roofs as firefighters from several communities were called in to the central Indiana city to help.
Get outside this Memorial Day weekend
Although DNR campgrounds and cabins at state parks, state reservoirs and recreation areas are booked to capacity for Memorial Day weekend, some shelters remain available for picnics and other day-use gatherings.
Skateboarders, BMX bike riders working to improve area of city park they use
The sound of small wheels rolling across smooth concrete fills the air, accented by the clacking noise of a wooden skateboard coming to an instant stop on a metal edge before rolling on again.
Indiana State to host 2014 MVC baseball tourney
Build it… and they will come. The Missouri Valley Conference and Indiana State University made that famous line from the movie “Fields Of Dreams” reality Thursday.
Overlay recommended for 812 area code
The state agency that represents Hoosier utility customers is calling for a ten-digit solution to southern Indiana’s vanishing supply of 812 area code telephone numbers.
Elementary school saddened by student’s death
A 9-year-old Dixie Bee Elementary student died unexpectedly Wednesday evening as the result of pneumonia, said Vigo County Coroner Susan Amos on Thursday.
Vermillion CSX crossings undergoing maintenance
CSX maintenance crews are working on railroad crossings between Dana and Chrisman, Ill. this week and next, a CSX official said Thursday.
Beware of scams everywhere
Ever get a phone call in the middle of the night from a person claiming to be your grandchild, who unfortunately has been jailed in Canada and needs bail money?
INDOT to start work on Indiana 163 in Vermillion County
Maintenance crews will begin a pavement preservation project Monday on Indiana 163, between Indiana 63 and the Illinois state line west of Clinton.
Union Hospital community garden spots now available
Community gardening spots are now available at the Union Hospital Community Garden for Wabash Valley residents interested in planting and maintaining a garden but may not have the space. The garden is located west of the intersection of North Sixth Street and Seventh Avenue in Terre Haute at 1430 N. Sixth St.
Correctional officer remembered at memorial
Greene County native and Wabash Valley Correctional Facility Officer Timothy Betts was honored during a memorial ceremony at the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
Money donated for Dresser sculpture
100+ Women Who Care of Vigo County on Thursday awarded a $20,200 grant to Art Spaces that will help make the Paul Dresser sculpture, “A Song for Indiana,” a reality.
Powerball jackpot quickly jumps to $550 million
The Powerball jackpot jumped to $550 million on Thursday — the third largest lottery in history — as dreamers in all but the seven states where the game isn’t played snatched up tickets for the minuscule chance at a life on easy street.
School bus carrying special-needs kids rolls over
INDIANAPOLIS — A school bus carrying special-needs students rolled over today on a highway near Indianapolis, injuring a dozen people including five children, state police said.
- More Local & Bistate Headlines
- For Piper: Annual ‘Rush the Punter’ event dedicated to Dixie Bee student who died Wednesday after a short illness