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Oakwood Dwelling for Women: The home that saves lives – Information – Washington County Information/Holmes County Occasions-Advertiser

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SHREVEPORT, La. (AP) ” It was a chilly and raining evening when Jessica Ritchie discovered herself crying underneath a carport of an deserted home.

“I simply wish to go house; I simply wish to go house,” she stored saying to herself. She had as soon as lived in that home. It was her father’s, however now it was empty after they misplaced it to foreclosures — partly due to her uncontrollable meth and alcohol dependancy.

Worse, Ritchie had misplaced authorized custody of her 9-year-old daughter, Ryleigh, to her mom. Her life had grow to be a sequence of unstable days, resort hopping nights and emotional chapter.

“I simply wish to go house,” she stored saying to herself.

What she didn’t know on the time was that this was to be her “all-time low,” the purpose by which addicts give up and search the assistance they should get well.

That evening she discovered a soggy telephone e book and appeared up the quantity for the Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse of Northwest Louisiana (CADA). Inside a few days, she was beginning their seven-day detox program after which accomplished their 28-day inpatient program. She was clear, however she knew if she was to remain that approach she couldn’t return to her outdated life.

She spoke up about her fears in an Alcoholics Nameless assembly the place a lady instructed her concerning the Oakwood Home for Women. Ritchie heeded the recommendation. “I confirmed up at Oakwood scared to demise, however I used to be welcomed.”

That’s what the non-profit home has accomplished for the final 45 years. It has welcomed the addicted, the scared and the misplaced. The historic two-story white home within the Highland neighborhood has helped hundreds of women not solely discover freedom from their addictions however achieve management of their lives.

Oakwood achieves this by beginning with the fundamentals, which implies following the principles, that the residents are anticipated to observe. There are so much and they don’t seem to be straightforward, particularly for individuals who have lived their lives within the chaos of dependancy.

No cell telephones, no social media, no relationships, in different phrases, no distractions. Restoration is to be their focus.

Gina Hartley, an authorized counselor, and Oakwood’s director for the final two years finds that many of the women who come into the doorways are crushed down with little, if any, shallowness.

“They do not really feel worthy, they do not really feel they’ll do something, and numerous my job right here helps them construct that again up,” Hartley stated.

She desires them to appreciate that they’re value it, that they deserve this life and that they’ll grow to be sturdy impartial women.

Hartley is aware of they’ll do it as a result of she did it herself. In 2006 she was a resident of Oakwood.

“I couldn’t keep sober,” recollects Hartley, however with Oakwood’s construction, she was lastly in a position to get clear. In the present day, as a powerful impartial lady, she might help others. “I simply felt I had a ardour to proceed serving to individuals as a result of I do know.”

Oakwood can home eight women at a time. The room and board is $80 every week, however a lady wouldn’t be turned away if she couldn’t pay. Oakwood’s mission is to assist them in order that they discover monetary stability.

That is completed with academic and employment steering. The home itself is funded with grants, fundraisers, and personal donations. The yearly banquet dinner is their largest fundraiser occasion and normally has two audio system, one former and one present resident, sharing their tales on Oakwood. It is topped off with a silent public sale and raffle.

As for Ritchie, she ended up dwelling at Oakwood for 17 months. She discovered the principles, and whereas she didn’t like them, she adopted them. Initially, she was nervous she can be the outcast of the group and was shocked when everybody instantly included her.

For the primary time in her life, she was part of one thing.

“We had been all in the identical boat, we had been all studying to reside sober,” Richie stated.

Little by little, she was discovering who she was with out the medicine. She knew her daughter wanted her greater than ever and realized what she had been lacking out on by not taking accountability.

She began to restore their relationship. For Ryleigh it’s what she had hoped for.

“It (Oakwood) has given my mother again to me. I really feel fortunate and really grateful that my mother ended up discovering the appropriate path,” Ryleigh stated.

Since Ritchie left in October of 2016, her life has been a sequence of accomplishments, proving that it has been the appropriate path. She has an condo the place she lives together with her daughter.

Her first job after getting sober was at a restaurant adopted by a greater one as a customer support administrator at a automobile dealership.

However she needed extra. She has all the time felt a calling to assist people who find themselves in want and is now pursuing a level in nursing from Bossier Parish Group Faculty.

The authorized custody of her daughter was made official this summer season. Ryleigh, who had been dwelling together with her mother for the final couple of years, didn’t perceive the distinction.

“It means I can take you to China and nobody can cease me,” Ritchie joked.

Nonetheless, you usually tend to discover the mom and daughter learning on the eating room desk for college.

Ritchie nonetheless finds herself at Oakwood every now and then. She feels linked to the women who now reside there. She will get emotional after they attain their accomplishments, similar to she did. Ritchie likes to see individuals get the identical factor she obtained from the 100-year-old home, “There may be a lot love in these partitions that it adjustments an individual.”

It has been an extended journey from the woman who sat underneath that carport to the sturdy impartial lady that Ritchie has grow to be. She by no means has to want to go house once more.

Irrespective of the place she is, Oakwood will all the time be a house to her.

“I can go house each time I wish to,” Ritchie stated.

___

Info from: The Occasions, http://www.shreveporttimes.com

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