Originally published to the March STR/SOR Newsletter Thu, Mar 28, 2019 5:54 pm
“Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy,” is the motto of New Beginning Sanctuary, emphasizing their core beliefs that financial responsibility and self-sufficiency are essential to a life in sobriety. Located in Springfield, Missouri, this recovery housing organization encompassing a total of nine properties providing boarding for both men and women in recovery. Residents are required to keep their living spaces clean and share in communal responsibilities and chores so that the immaculate facility can be ready for company at a moment’s notice. And with their complete open-door policy, anyone can come by and see how the organization operates (they do prefer a five to ten minute heads up first).
Outside of chores and tidying, work is an integral part of New Beginning Sanctuary. Whether it’s attending classes or getting a job to secure financial stability, pulling one’s proverbial weight is considered an absolute. Personal relationships, connection to a higher power, abstaining from drug or alcohol use, are also measures of success. The two tangible ones are money and sobriety, these are the two that we can measure by action and not just words (nbsanctuary.org.) New Beginning Sanctuary is a safe place to maintain sobriety and pursue a fresh start. And with the emphasis on education and employment, residents are not just provided a place to sleep, they are given the blue prints with which to build a structured and stable life in sobriety.
The Treatment Support team at UMSL-MIMH reached out to the director of New Beginning Sanctuary to learn more about expansion under STR, successes and obstacles, and what he looks forward to under SOR.
How have you seen the housing component change recovery and retention in Springfield?
The STR/SOR Grant has been helpful for recovery housing. It has allowed about 30 individuals in our program to get help and allowed them to get caught up with payments and bills that otherwise may have added to their stress and potential relapse. Unfortunately, the retention rate on the housing has not been sustained. Funding ran out very quickly and we were only able to help people from mid-October to the beginning of January. We saw increased participation and longer engagement while the funding was available. However once it ran out, we did lose a lot of clients.
How has New Beginnings Sanctuary grown under STR/SOR funding?
Yes, we now have 12 NARR accredited homes, which is up from just seven prior to STR/SOR. Fortunately we have been able to maintain these homes even after loss of funded clients.
STR/SOR was a huge factor in our ability to grow. The extra money, from a business stand point, enabled us to take our organization to the next level. We have also taken on more staff and employed two additional people.
Every organization faces challenges. What have been some of the challenges New Beginnings Sanctuary has faced and how were they overcome?
We have had several since October, when we got our first client, everyone in the house learned about his funding and that his program was being paid by STR/SOR. We had several clients (even more when word spread through the organization) that went to get on STR/SOR, even though they had appeared to be doing fine.
Another issue we ran into was management. We are big believers of promoting from within our organization. So most of our managers are or were clients that showed a passion for long term recovery and went above and beyond just staying abstinent. However, some were still on Probation or Parole which led to revamping some of our policy and procedures.
Similarly, what has proven successful? Can you share a particular story of success for the readers?
One of the things that we have also adjusted was the fee structure. We believe that STR/SOR clients must have some skin in the game. Otherwise, they get on STR/SOR for housing assistance and do not save money or leave when it's over. We wanted to start implementing life skills classes and budgeting classes as a requirement for maintaining the assistance.
I think STR/SOR funding has given access to individuals, who might otherwise not have been able or willing to get into sober living.
We also started requiring clients to pay their program fees for a couple of weeks after gaining employment, just to develop a cushion for them when funding ran out so it wouldn't be as big of a shock to their budget. Given time, and implementing the requirement of life skills and budgeting, I believe we will see more success with STR/SOR in the future.
We also have a Recovery Community Center here in Springfield. STR/SOR has played an enormous role in making the center grow and thrive. We serve thousands of people every month. We have expanded programming, social events, been able to provide transportation and have hired staff. We have also expanded office space, offer treatment/counseling, and even started a jail/prison diversion program and Batterers intervention program, anger management, life skills, etc. all based on the Moral Reconation Therapy (MRT) model.
Thank you Alon Fisch for taking the time to share about the model for success New Beginning Sanctuary has built and the role it plays in recovery programs across Springfield, Missouri.
Fisch. Alon. Email Interview. March 25, 2019. Aaron Ruiz