Faith-based recovery program shows leadership

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CityReach Ashland is lending a hand to those struggling with addiction with its Hope Home and in turn, the men of the home are giving back to the community. I see these guys when they come into the home and they’re broken,” said Hope Hope Director Donald Joseph. “You see them come into the home and they change.”

Hope Home takes in men who are struggling with addictions like drugs and alcohol and rehabilitates them back into communities through a faith-based system. The men work jobs throughout the community using their various skills to keep the home running.

Last week four men and their leader helped a local woman with a few projects she needed help with around her house. It was the first of what the Hope Home expects to be many servant leadership opportunities for the men.

Each man has his own unique story of how he fell into and is now overcoming addiction. All of them have their own story and are at a different part of their journey, but they come together to work through their addiction and get back into the community through the nine-month program.

“We get all these guys in and see their skills and utilize their skills to a point where it gets them back into working too,” Joseph said.

By the end of the seventh month, the goal is for the men to begin their job search in whichever community they choose. Some will stay in Ashland, some will go to another part of the state and others will leave the region all together and restart their lives across the country.

After greeting homeowner Kathy Chamis in her driveway, Joseph and the four men from the home went upstairs to a bedroom that needed painting. As they began gathering supplies and starting work, each man took the time to tell his story.

Bobby Ammons, grew up in an alcoholic home and began drinking at the age of 13 because he knew nothing else.

“It started out as fun and it turned into misery,” Ammons said. “I was trying to be what they called a functioning alcoholic, but there’s no such thing.”

Ammons is celebrating sober and thankful for Hope Home and his life.

“I realize how blessed I am to even be here with you guys,” Ammons said.

Three others, Dean Kitchens, Phillip Kiefer, and John Milwee, all served in the military and as a direct result found themselves with an addiction.

Kitchens, an air force mechanic, became addicted to alcohol and said he was at the Veterans Hospital detoxing and doctors said he was a day away from liver failure when Hope Home found him. He entered the home, now, six months later, the scar tissue on his liver is gone.

At the end of the program, Kitchens will be moving out west to work the same job he had in the military. He said this is the only program that’s worked for him. Kitchens had tried other programs and facilities, but for him, Hope Hope through CityReach Ashland is by far the best.

Kiefer served overseas in the army and said when he was hit by his first IED he was treated with opiate medication and which eventually led to his opioid addiction. Kiefer had been through other programs as well, but Hope Home is what is working for him and he’s celebrating 15 weeks sober.

Milwee began drinking in the army and got sober in 2001, but dealing with a recent personal issue sent him back to drinking. He said he was celebrating 110 days sober.

The men began working on Chamis’ home. They each showed massive amounts of respect for Chamis as they worked on her house always making sure they were helping her with exactly what she needed and how she wanted it done.

“This is what war does,” said Chamis, after hearing their stories. Chamis comes from a military family herself as her father was a purple heart recipient from World War II. She is adamant about treating war veterans with the utmost respect and honor.

“They are first-class citizens,” she said. “They fight a war so we can be free.”

When it comes to their service, Keifer said, “it’s an honor.”

Chamis discussed with the men the frequency of those who serve in the military to have addictions because of the stress of leaving home and going into a war environment.

Chamis said it was an honor to open her home to the men because she wants to do her small part in helping them in their recovery.

“Yet you guys are our heroes, you are responsible for us having a home we can live in,” she said to the men.

Her care for those men and their recovery is evident. Chamis opened her home and said she wants to be there for them and show them the love they deserve. They aren’t any less due to their struggle in her eyes.

“They’ve just been wounded,” she said.