|Posted by Owen Shoup on November 16, 2010 at 9:53 AM|
Credit: John M. Setzler Jr. | Hickory Daily Record
By Sarah Newell Williamson
Pictured are Owen “Buddy” Shoup, founder of Angel of Hope, Crystal Ferguson and Mary Long.
Published: December 13, 2009
Hickory -- Crystal Ferguson was addicted to crack. Clean for 37 days now, she attends support group meetings five days a week and was recently hired for a full-time job.
Ferguson credits her recovery to Angel of Hope, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping women recover from substance abuse.
Owen "Buddy" Shoup started Angel of Hope more than three years ago. Shoup, a recovering alcoholic himself, initially wanted to start a transitional home for men in 1999. However, the timing wasn't right.
In 2005, Shoup was approached about starting a home for recovering female addicts, since there was nothing like it in the area. He agreed, and Angel of Hope was born.
Six women can stay at the home at a time. The program is designed for them to stay a year, although participants aren't required to. Mary Long, the manager at Angel of Hope, said women who stay for a year have an advantage, because it helps them become more stable in society.
Ferguson initially came to Angel of Hope in April 2008. She said she thought she was stable. Ferguson held down three part-time jobs while at the house the first time. She felt secure. She left the house and headed out on her own. She said she left too soon.
"I jumped out too fast," Ferguson said. "I was out on the streets, walking, crying to myself, every time I used." She came back on Nov. 6, and said she plans to stay at Angel of Hope until they make her leave.
"Since I've been here, I've been accomplishing goals," Ferguson said. "I've found a job and I've gone back to church. Last Thursday was my first day at work. You pray to God and things work."
Ferguson has three children who are with family members. She has been able to see her eldest child. Although she would like to see all of them, she knows she's not ready. "I have to work on myself before I can see them," she said.
Ferguson will complete her GED in January. Upon completion of her GED, she hopes to go to school for nursing and specialize in geriatrics.
Residents at the house are expected to go to five support meetings a week — such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics Anonymous — and are also expected to keep their rooms tidy, participate in chores, search for employment and attend weekly house meetings. They also can volunteer at the Family Care Center Thrift Store, which offers job-skill training and something to include on their resumes, Shoup said.
Residents also must abide by a curfew and can be subject to random drug tests. Long said most of the residents come to Angel of Hope through referrals from treatment centers or hospitals although a few come through word-of-mouth.
"If we see there's a need, we won't turn them away," she said. "But they have to be willing to take part in the house."
She said Angel of Hope works to foster a family atmosphere in the home. They try to eat dinner together and talk about anything that's troubling them, Long said. "You need other addicts and alcoholics with you because they understand the feeling of wanting to use and can support you," she said.
Angel of Hope is funded by the residents paying $100 a week in rent, as well as a few grants and donations from the community. There are a few other special fundraisers, like Chick-fil-A night, in which a portion of the profits from the restaurant's sales go to Angel of Hope.
The organization also relies on people in the community. Amanda Rogers, with House of Style, comes in a few times a year to style the women's hair. "They need some pampering," Long said.
She, herself, knows what it's like to lose everything. Long also is a recovering addict. She now lives at the house and works as the manager of Angel of Hope and forgoes a paycheck.
"It's nice, knowing I live here and this is my home. I want the girls to feel at home," she said. "The tree out in the woods and the thin blanket isn't home. It's so nice to be in a recovery situation."
Long said she has pride in herself for having pulled herself up, and she wants those who come through Angel of Hope's program to feel the same way.
"We're all one day away from the next fall," said Long.