Hope for a second chance

COURTESY PHOTO Gayle Stahl stands in front of the donated home being renovated for Hope House.

Hope House will offer sober living for women in Huron

HURON — Gayle Stahl says that the idea behind Hope House comes from beyond her.

“This has been a vision and a dream of mine for about four years,” Stahl recalled. “I told God for about six months that ‘it’s not me,’ because I have no idea how to do this. He said over and over, ‘Yes, it is.’”

Her spark is undeniable, and speaking with Stahl about her vision and passion for what Hope House can become in the Huron community will leave the listener energized and breathless at the same time.

The original spark for what would become the Hope House began when Stahl was part of a Bible Study at the Beadle County jail as a guest. She asked a female inmate where she went after she was released and found that those struggling with addiction were frequently returning to the same environments that originally harbored the initial addiction.

Stahl met with area probation officers, law enforcement officers, and drug court employees, and one thing she took from a meeting with those experienced in dealing with persons suffering from addiction was to “start small, do it right.”

Stahl went about setting up a board of directors for the Hope House, acquiring 501c3 non-profit status, and working on grassroots fundraising. She has been to many area churches on Sunday mornings and talked to groups around town, and Stahl states that she has raised roughly $35,000 through those efforts already.

Hope House is working under the National Sober Living Association, which provides training, networking, and membership within the association while also providing certain key rules for those who want to live in the sober living facility.

Among those rules include no intermingling of sexes, which is why Stahl is currently building Hope House as a sober living home for women. Another cardinal rule is no substance use while part of the facility, which will be enforced through random testing of house residents. Finally, any violence in the home will be a automatic ejection from home.

Other home rules will include sustaining employment and attending three meetings per week. Employment is required to pay the “guest fee” of the home.

“What our end goal is for women to build a safe, sober, sustainable lifestyle,” Stahl explained. “Studies have shown that if you can live in sober living for nine months, there is an 80% chance of remaining sober going forward. Why aren’t we doing that?”

Not every woman that is seeking sobriety will be eligible for the Hope House, however. Stahl is willing to work with those who are in the legal system through drug court, probation, or prison, but she also would like to be available to those who are not involved in the legal system yet.

While Stahl states that the home is not a mental health facility, she has already been in contact with local mental health agencies to provide needed dual diagnosis care that often goes with those who are part of recovery.

Children can not accompany those who are in the home to live, but Stahl says that the home has an area that could accommodate visits for a mother whose children are involved with Child Protective Services while she works through her time at Hope House for supervised visits.

Stahl reports that the home was another part of “God’s direction” with the Hope House. She was at morning water aerobics and mentioned her idea to Rhonda Kludt, and by the end of the day, she was meeting with Ashley Kingdon-Reese, and Angelhaus had given her the house as a donation.

“With a free home comes lots of renovations,” Stahl says, with a smile. “It seems every time I turn around this house needs something more.”

The goal date for opening has been pushed back to February 1 due to renovations, many of which have been done by volunteers working hard on the property already.

Based on the amount of bathrooms in the house, the current home can potentially allow for six women to live there. That would include, in Stahl’s “perfect” world, a house manager that lives on site.

Stahl relays that her board members each bring different life experiences. She has board members with experience in social work, experience in drug court, and experience in addiction.

She is quick to state that she surrounds herself with people who “know all of the things that I do not know!”

Stahl has been very pleased with the support of the Huron community thus far, and she welcomes people in the community to reach out to her with any questions or concerns through her email [email protected], through the website www.hopehouseslc.com, or by calling her at 605-354-4564.

“If someone would have told me five years ago that someone would move a ‘sober living home’ in my neighborhood, I would have had questions, but I have had so many positive experiences with these women!” Stahl exclaimed.

She added, “I have such a calling for this, and such a heart for this!”

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