Since 1989, September has been recognized as National Recovery Month to increase public awareness of substance abuse and mental health. To do our part in supporting this important cause, Batch has developed three curated gift sets that will benefit Middle Tennessee’s own Healing Housing. I talked with Healing Housing’s Executive Director Tracey Levine to learn more about this special organization and why your Recovery Month purchases will make a difference through their work.
Tell us more about Healing Housing. What makes this organization unique?
Our founder Olivia Smith was a volunteer with an organization called Better Decisions that trained mentors to work one-on-one for eight months with women who were close to their release date. Olivia was especially impacted by the story of an inmate who, upon release, would have to return to her family of origin that were still deep in their own addiction crisis. Without any financial means for affordable, safe housing this young woman had no other choice but to go home. Olivia couldn’t sleep with the knowledge that this woman wanted to make a Better Decision for her future, but didn’t have the resources to do so. Olivia took this story to Pastor Davis Chappell of Brentwood United Methodist Church. Pastor Chappell encouraged her to form a research team of volunteers to learn more about faith-based, sober-living housing programs across the country. This team dedicated two years of their lives to learning all they could about addiction and recovery and eventually opened the doors of Healing Housing to 12 women and three live-in staff members in April 2017.
I was hired as Executive Director for Healing Housing in 2018. I embrace recovery, as it changed my life, and I know that with love, counseling, spiritual formation, 12 step recovery support and community we can live in and embrace the solution. In addition to providing the best in programming support, we are there to help process life on life’s terms. You’d be surprised at the difference you can make in someone’s life by listening and holding space while they process feelings around events that they typically would have used or relapsed over. Most all of our women have children that they are working to have back in their lives. You can imagine the pain that that kind of guilt must bring up once you are abstinent from drugs and alcohol. Our community provides tools and love to work through all of it.
One of the many unique aspects of our program is that women pay $125.00 a week to live with us once they have completed Intensive Outpatient Treatment. Sixty-percent of that weekly amount is held in a savings account under their name. Upon successful graduation of our six-month program, that accumulated amount is given back to them in the form of a check that they can use as a down payment on an apartment.
What impact have you had so far?
To date we have been a recovery resource for over 200 women, graduated 29 women from our program since inception and housed 88. Of the women we have housed, 82% have remained clean and sober while living with us. Since 2018, we have given back close to $19,130.00 to graduates through the mandatory savings program.
I’ll share Sam’s story to help make the impact more tangible. Sam came to us straight from Tennessee Prison for Women in 2018. She had served close to nine years in prison. Her addiction to pills and various other drugs had gotten her into a lot of trouble and eventually cost her losing her relationship with her son. Upon release, Sam came to us with nothing—except a prayer to get it right and reclaim her life. During Sam’s stay with us, she got a sponsor, worked the 12 steps, was promoted as a supervisor at her job, became a mentor to new women coming into Healing Housing and reclaimed a relationship with her family. With the help of our financial mentorship team, she was able to pay off all of her court fees and any debt she had incurred, file her 2019 taxes and eventually purchase her first ever car on her own. When Sam graduated from our program, we offered her a job as our evening house manager, which she accepted. Sam was especially helpful to women at Healing Housing who came from prison or through Recovery Court. She encouraged them and shared her experience, strength and hope. Sam just took a job as a Director of Programming at another residential nonprofit and is an active member of our alumnae group. She is a rockstar in our books!
How did the partnership with Batch come to be?
Sam Davidson! Sam and I go back to the days when he supported my organic oatmeal business, Haulin’ Oats, here in Nashville. I believe that oatmeal made it in the first subscription box that Batch ever put out. Sam and the whole team at Batch quickly became dear friends and I have many fond memories of doing oatmeal tastings at the Batch store in the Nashville Farmers Market. Sam is just one incredible guy, and when I reached out with this request for collaboration he answered immediately. I can’t say enough good about him and the whole team at Batch and all that he has helped create for our community of artisans.
[Read more about our makers in the Meet the Maker series.]
How will the donation from Batch be used to support Healing Housing?
This donation will assist us in providing all that it takes to house twelve women: groceries, electricity, clothing, medical expenses and transportation, to name a few.
What’s next for Healing Housing? Any big plans for your next phase?
We need to expand. We are looking at a 3-5 year plan for growth. We consistently have a waitlist of approximately 20 women and that is without much outreach or advertisement. Eventually, we would like to provide step down housing where after women graduate our program, we can provide affordable housing with some recovery structure and the ability for women to have their children with them. We have big dreams!
Is there anything else you would like us to know about Healing Housing or about addiction and the journey to recovery?
We are a community-based solution to the community wide problem of addiction. All too often we get caught up in the hopelessness of this disease. We get to see women reclaim their lives through recovery and the ripple effect it has within their individual families and the community in which they reside. It’s a beautiful thing.
Make your purchase go further by shopping the Recovery Month Batch gift sets here.