Creating Space for Good

Tracy Harmon Special to the Philanthropy Journal

By Tracy Harmon

In early 1998, a local 12 step group in Dalton, Georgia lost their meeting space, a state-operated low-intensity residential substance abuse treatment program, due to funding. With the loss of the state facility, it became apparent there was a substantial need for a safe space for those suffering with addiction the community. On February 15, 1999, the Carter Hope Center admitted their first two patients and within two weeks, they were filled to capacity with eight patients as others were waitingCarter Hope Center Logo to get into the tiny apartments that were transformed into a residential therapeutic space.

Finding a space that adequately meets the needs of their recipients can be a daunting task for an organization, as space plays a major role in the quality and types of services offered. Carter Hope Center struggled to find a large enough space to accommodate the growing need for supporting those who were in the early stages of recovering from addictive diseases. Instead of closing their doors, they remained scattered among Dalton until they found their current locations at 506 East Hawthorne and 311 Henderson Streets which provided 20 men’s beds and 11 women’s beds.

Honing in on one’s mission can be helpful in creating innovative ways to use less than ideal resources. Many nonprofits must utilize space strategically by adapting or transitioning to continue to provide support and care. While having various locations across town and moving locations may not have been the Center’s first choice, they have integrated multiple residences to carry out their mission in a profound way. They have utilized homes for low-intensity residential therapy to their benefit as the safe living environments foster positive long-term consequences. The residential homes give patients a sense of normalcy and reintegrate individuals into a daily routine. They are able to provide structure and consistency through the required minimum nine month. Residents attend individual treatment planning and counseling, 12 step meetings and obtain employment in the community. While success may be subjective, patients are able to remain sober due to the positive environment Carter Hope ensures.

Tracy Harmon, Public Relations specialist for the Center says, “We are always at capacity and have a substantial waiting list at all times. This program is particularly important to the staff because all the clinical staff members are in recovery from addiction.” Residential therapeutic recovery programs provide on the clock recovery skills for those suffering drug abuse and alcoholism. Offering a space away from negative influences, allows those recovering to have more positive outcomes against their battle against addiction.  Because of the need in Northern Georgia, Carter Hope Center has added two additional homes to increase their capacity to 38 beds -35 for patients and three for full-time staff.

Chick Smith Founder and Director
Chick Smith Founder and Director

Accessibility for treatment for addiction spans further than limited space. Carter Hope has found that most people addicted to drugs do not have health insurance and are the last stop for many of the people that they serve. The State of Georgia does fund outpatient programs but if the person does not have a safe, drug-free place to stay, outpatient treatment is often not possible according to Harmon. Carter Hope Center is one of a kind as there is no state-funded residential treatment for addiction available in Georgia other than a short stay at a Crisis Stabilization Unit, this makes Carter Hope an important staple in the community for those with addiction. Unfortunately, there is also no state-funded residential treatment for men or women either without children or without custody issues.

However, the state does fund outpatient programs but if the person does not have a safe, drug-free place to stay, outpatient treatment is often not possible according to Harmon. This leaves childless people battling addiction vulnerable without organizations such as the Carter Hope Center. Keeping fees low and requiring patients to obtaining employment, allows most anyone to afford treatment at the Center. Carter Hope not only provides a space for recovery and healing, but also responsibility and self-sufficiency. Because residents gain employment through the community, this allows them to pay fees and continue to meet other financial obligations to their families. “We are a reality based treatment program. The patients work, clean, cook and shop for themselves,” says Tracy. The residential therapy program uses a cognitive behavioral therapy approach, more specifically the Matrix Model of Treatment, in which patients receive information about addiction and relapse, are encouraged and supported, and become familiar with self-help programs. Placing responsibility on patients helps encourage positive behaviors and sobriety.

Chuck Smith and wife, Kara, PA for Dalton Family Practice
Chuck Smith and wife, Kara, PA for Dalton Family Practice

Residential therapeutic treatment centers can be beneficial to the health and safety of the whole community. When an individual recovers from addiction, not only is the individual helped but the community also improves. The family of individuals with addiction can be deeply affected by the disease which can negatively affect the community. Carter Hope’s services are cost effective, making treatment available for those who may otherwise not have the opportunity to seek professional help. It also, in many, cases is an alternative to being incarcerated. Treatment is less expensive than jail and gives those battling addiction the skills to overcome their addiction instead punishing for addictive behaviors. Moreover, since patients pay for treatment, this lessens the burden on taxpayers whose dollars fund housing inmates.

While the residential therapy facility has not had to end any programming, they have goals to expand in the future with more beds and of course more counseling staff. Currently, they are in the process of seeking funding for a new building to include 2 large group rooms and more office space.

As the need grows, the Center continues to find ways to navigate the issue of space. Removing individuals addicted to drugs and alcohol from situations that support these behaviors is important to helping with the recovery process.

Carter Hope Center recognizes the complexity of those addicted to drugs and aims to continue to support those who are looking for a way out. Mission based strategic planning has helped Carter Hope to think creatively to utilize space for the benefit of their community.

Tracy Harmon is the Public Relations/Marketing Director for the Carter Hope Center. She has 14 years of experience with fundraising, marketing, and volunteering.   Carter Hope Center (CHC) is a 9 month transitional residential therapeutic treatment program licensed by the state of Georgia. CHC has accommodations for 23 men and 10 women in the early stages of sobriety and recovery from alcohol and drug addictions.

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