The paperwork has been filed and it's time to look to the next step for organizers behind the House of Hope effort.
"This summer was all about getting our non-profit status together," Director and Founder Dianne Sherman said.
So far, the group, which works in the community spreading addiction awareness and is attempting to establish a group home for women recovering from addiction, has operated under the non-profit umbrella of Praise Worship Fellowship. As of Friday, Aug. 24, the group has filed the paperwork and expects to soon have its own non-profit status.
According to Kate Reed, chair of the group's building committee and co-chair of the fundraising committee, bylaws are written, articles of incorporation have been filed and a 92-page, 1023 non-profit application has been filed. Reed said she expects the application to be approved and to apply retroactively back to the group's 2011 founding. Only about two percent of non-profit filings are denied, she said.
"We're just trying to get all of our paperwork done correctly and filed," Reed said. "It was always our plan. It's just taken longer than we expected. It's one of the first things we talked about at our first meetings."
Sherman and Reed said the next steps involve acquiring a property for the group home.
"We're trying to pull all the pieces together," Sherman said. "The house committee has been meeting almost every week or so."
There are a lot of pieces to pull together. According to the two women, a housing policy and application process is being formulated, rules are being written for residents and treatment programs are being devised. The organization is looking into the details as well, according to Sherman, with everything from food to furniture and linens to laundry is being examined. A volunteer schedule is also being worked out, as the house will have two adults at the facility at all times.
When all is said and done, the group hopes to house six women with Sherman as house director.
They're also preparing to acquire the building itself.
"We're looking at several properties," Reed said. "We're looking into making an offer. At this point we're going to reach out to the community to help us furnish the house. We're about halfway with both the purchase of our house and in funding our yearly operating budget."
Reed said she has seen a lot of positive support from the community.
"Wherever we go to speak, afterwards, people come up and share their personal experiences with us," Reed said. "It really is a community-wide problem and it takes a community-wide effort and we're seeing that here. We have a very strong board in the community. We have a great volunteer community. We're lucky to be in the community we're in because the government isn't going to be able to do it (combat addiction). They don't have the funding. We have to take care of our own. Everyone in the community is effected by addiction, whether they know someone (who is addicted) or not."
Reed and Sherman said they have had support from churches and organizations throughout the county, but hope for more. They also said the Community Foundation and the DeFrees Foundation have offered ongoing support.
"Any of these different organizations that are donating to charity, this is a county-wide effort and we would love the help," Reed said.
The two also noted the organization welcomes speaking opportunities.
"The big effort that we're making is in speaking engagements," Reed said. "We really need to get into the schools with the kids in the younger grades. After we speak, or one of our girls speaks, we really need to have coffee or a meal or something, because the doors just open up and people need to talk."
"I hope one of the things we can do once we have the house open is set up support for family members," Sherman added. "We don't have enough of it in the area. Addiction is a disease. It actually effects the brain making it harder to quit."
Reed said the community has been mostly open to the organization's efforts.
"I've only had one person in all this time (since efforts to form a home started) that said, 'Not in my neighborhood.' I always say drugs and alcohol are already in your neighborhood and every neighborhood in Warren County. The difference is, these women will be working on their recovery. They have a house director monitoring them. You'll know who she is. You'll know her face. The people already in your neighborhood aren't working to recover. They're not being monitored.
"It's (the proposed house rules) above and beyond what probation and parole require. It's very structures. People aren't going to want to stay there, especially if they're not serious about it (recovery)."
More information on House of Hope can be found at www.herhouseofhope.com. More information about donating to House of Hope or about arranging speaking engagements is available by calling Reed at 723-4520 or Sherman at 688-7802.