Grace House of Brunswick provides women with a safe place to recover from addiction, regain stability.
Four years ago, at age 28, Caroline Kittle was fighting her own demons, caught in a battle with drug and alcohol addiction that started when she was 13 years old. The fact that she had loving parents and a college education meant nothing to her disease.
"I got to the end of myself, but my family wasn't going to stand back and just watch me kill myself," says Caroline, who now lives in Brunswick.
Her mom found Grace House of Brunswick, a long-term treatment center and safe place for women to get sober from drugs and alcohol. Today, Caroline is not only one of nearly 350 women who the program has served since 2009, she is the program's executive director.
"Grace House gave me my life back," says Caroline, who leads a staff of three and numerous volunteers who help the 14 women who live in Grace House at any given time. "I have a life that is unrecognizable to the addicted person I used to be."
The Christ-centered, 12-step program focuses on maintaining sobriety, becoming financially self-sustaining and being an active member in the community. Grace house provides therapeutic treatment through a counselor on staff.
The program also teaches financial accountability, and every woman in the program pays for her own treatment through jobs in the community. Grace House partners with local businesses to find employment opportunities for the women, even those with a long history of infractions and felonies.
Each woman must save for a car before leaving the program so they can provide for their family when they leave, and they will also be financially independent and not reliant on government programs or funds from family and friends.
"Paying rent and supporting themselves gives these women a sense of accomplishment," says Caroline. "People who don't struggle with addiction don't understand these are big life accomplishments."
While it's a struggle for every woman in the program, for some the struggle is too great. One of the most difficult parts of Caroline's job is watching women give up.
"Sometimes they think it's just too hard to let God rewrite their story," she says.
Yet the successes are numerous — 78 percent of the program's graduates remain sober today. Caroline tells of a woman who entered the program after losing custody of her children, resigned to the reality that she would never likely see them again.
"She had no license, no car, no hope," says Caroline. "Yet her faith grew, and she was patient in the program. Doors were opened to her and she is currently in a high position in her employment, has all her children with her again and serves the community. This is just one of the numerous stories that show the power of transformation found in recovery."
Future plans call for the addition of a transitional house, where women can live after completing the recovery program while they establish their new life on their own.
"I want women to have the same support and live-changing opportunity that Grace House gave to me," says Caroline. "It's been a rewarding full-circle experience for me."
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