New facility to offer hope to moms battling addiction | AspenTimes.com

New facility to offer hope to moms battling addiction

Janet Urquhart
Aspen Times Staff Writer

“Just imagine that you are a woman, a mother, struggling each day with an addiction. The only thing that keeps you going is your children. Imagine that there is no place for you and your children to go for help.”

There’s no need to imagine the scenario put forth in the promotional materials for an envisioned new residential treatment facility in the Roaring Fork Valley. It’s a reality. There is no place for a woman to conquer an addiction and be a mother to her children at the same time.

Currently, it’s one or the other, to the detriment of everyone involved, according to local professionals.

But Colorado West Recovery Center in Glenwood Springs and a committee of volunteers plan to change all that with HER House, a residential treatment facility in Glenwood to serve women and their children. The HER stands for hope, education and renewal.

The HER House Committee has launched a $3 million capital campaign, including $1.5 million to purchase a pair of properties that will serve as the only treatment facility of its kind on the Western Slope.

The strategizing began late last year; Colorado West hopes to have the HER House open in the first quarter of 2003. “In a perfect world, we would be moving in tomorrow,” said Diane Schlough, campaign coordinator and business director for Colorado West Regional Mental Health. “We are on a certainly expedited capital campaign.”

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The group’s first goal is to raise enough money – roughly $800,000 to $850,000 – to buy a large home that has already been identified. The house can accommodate seven or eight women, plus their children, for the 4- to 6-month treatment program. Organizers expect 20 to 25 families a year to stay at HER House, Schlough said.

The ultimate goal is to purchase a second, adjacent house, as well, which will offer additional residential units and space for a day-care facility for kids whose moms have been admitted to the program.

The second $1.5 million would establish an endowment for the program and provide scholarships to future residents at HER House.

Although most of the committee members are residents of the Roaring Fork Valley, the group is looking to branch out to the broader region that the HER House will serve, according to Schlough.

“Certainly, we’re looking at drawing in volunteer support and financial support from our 10-county area,” she said.

That region includes: Garfield, Eagle, Pitkin, Grand, Jackson, Mesa, Moffat, Rio Blanco, Routt and Summit counties.

Colorado West Recovery Center already operates a 16-bed residential treatment facility for men and women in Glenwood Springs. The facility offers a gender-specific treatment program that earned its coordinator, Kim Hilderbrand, a 2002 Treatment Award for Excellence from the state.

Although the program successfully addresses the different needs of men and women as they overcome an addiction to alcohol or drugs, Hilderbrand has discovered the program falls short in meeting the needs of women with children. As a result, mothers often don’t enroll in the residential treatment program or don’t complete it.

“The HER House actually is an outgrowth of our ongoing services to women,” said Hilderbrand.

“We realized many women weren’t staying because they had to find alternative care for their children,” she said. “It’s an obstacle to successfully completing treatment.”

The existing facility, with eight beds for women and eight for men, has no place to accommodate mobile children. Mothers who enter treatment must place their children with relatives, friends or in foster care. Sometimes, they end up with family members in another state.

“It places a lot of stress on the family system – not just the mom, but the kids,” Hilderbrand said.

At HER House, women must pay rent, hold a job and help with chores, just as participants do at the existing facility. But they will reside there with their children. The program includes supervision and treatment.

Colorado West will own and operate HER House, and the existing treatment facility will be turned entirely over to men, doubling its capacity for male enrollees.

Currently, there is typically a waiting list for men who want to participate in the program. The delay in admitting women is usually a result of their need to find someone to care for their children, Hilderbrand said.

Contributions to the HER House campaign may be sent to: HER House; 6916 Highway 82 Box A; Glenwood Springs, CO 81601.