HER House would be a home for children, too
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Kim Hilderbrand is looking for HER House.
Hilderbrand, the program director at the Colorado West Recovery Center, isn’t looking for a place to live herself. Instead, she is searching for a nurturing, supportive home to house women – some who are mothers – recovering from drug and alcohol addiction.
Currently, women must leave their children with family members or foster care to enter the treatment program at the recovery center in downtown Glenwood Springs. They don’t have much choice. It’s the only treatment facility of its kind on the Western Slope, and children aren’t allowed. Besides, both programs have waiting lists for men and women needing counseling and recovery assistance.
HER House – which stands for “hope, renewal and education” is the dream of Hilderbrand along with Diane Schlough, the business director for Colorado West’s central region, and the HER House committee, a nine-member volunteer group.
They’re working to raise $3 million to either build or purchase a home just for women and their children. The money would also remodel Colorado West’s existing recovery center to double the capacity of its male clients from 16 to 32, and establish an endowment to sustain HER House programs in the future.
A comforting home is quite a contrast from Colorado West Recovery Center’s well-worn brick storefront, at 711 Grand Ave. The center sits amidst restaurants and shops that line downtown sidewalks near the Grand Avenue Bridge.
Up to 16 men and eight women admit themselves to the residential drug and alcohol recovery program or are referred to the center through agencies like Social Services.
They live in residential space in the back of the building for four to six months. The majority of men are admitted for alcohol addiction. For women, it’s more likely to be methamphetamine and cocaine.
In the women’s section, the accommodations are what Hilderbrand calls “substandard.” Each of the four small bedrooms houses two women, and the eight women share one bathroom down the hall. There’s a tired-looking living room area with worn-out couches and other second-hand furniture.
Men and women share the center’s big, industrial-looking main living room, kitchen and dining areas.
Children can visit their mothers at the center, but the building’s not set up to have kids live there. The center’s on a busy commercial street with no yard or playground nearby, with little privacy for families.
This is a problem for mothers working to clean up their lives.
“Data we’ve gathered shows that women don’t enter the program, or they leave before completion, because they were not able to bring their children,” said Diane Schlough, Colorado West central region’s business director.
Not only that, Hilderbrand said a house geared specifically to women with children is better for long-term recovery.
“It’s important for clients to learn how to cope with their children without drugs or alcohol before they leave treatment,” Hilderbrand said.
“Right now, they don’t have that opportunity. With HER House, we can support the client with new coping skills so they’ll be better prepared to deal with their children when they complete treatment.”
Hilderbrand said she feels strongly the women in the program deserve a safe, welcoming place to live like HER House.
“It doesn’t make you feel respected and honored to have to live in a place like our current building,” Hilderbrand said, looking down the center’s communal hallway.
“We want to help our clients mend their lives,” she said. “People argue we don’t need as nice a place as HER House, but by providing a homey place to recover, we believe it raises the bar for the women in our program.”
Hilderbrand said HER House clients would be required to have a pre-admission screening, pay rent on a sliding scale, and be responsible for chores, holding a job, and participating in all phases of their recovery – just like the current program.
Hilderbrand, Schlough and the HER House Committee put a contract on a home in Glenwood Springs late last year, but withdrew their offer when a $400,000 state budget item earmarked specifically for HER House was placed on hold due to state budget cuts.
“We’re restrategizing,” Schlough said. “We’re educating people of the Western Slope about the need for this home.”
Contact Carrie Click: 945-8515, ext. 518
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