House offers hope for those recovering from opioid abuse

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Starting next month, there will be a new place for opioid addicts to get help. It's a nondescript airplane bungalow in the Ivanhoe neighborhood.

It's nothing fancy, but it's enough. For most, it's just another home on the street. But for dozens of church members who spent the last year and a half on it, this is a house built with hope.

"It is a home for individuals who are homeless and in recovery for opioid abuse," Brandy Thornton explained. She is the president and executive director of Bringing Hope, Building Lives charity. The home she's standing in is the first home the organization has rehabilitated.

"It's just such an epidemic at this time," she continued, "just within the nation. So that's one of the programs that we really wanted to have an impact on within this community."

"When they have a home," explained Brandy, "there's so much data out there that shows when they have permanent residency that they are more successful in their recovery. So we just want them to be successful, and to become whole, and to be able to move forward with their lives."

Dozens of church members walked on the bungalow's three floors. There are five bedrooms in it, which can sleep as many as nine people. Each room has fresh sheets on the beds, fresh towels, and fresh journals waiting to be used.

A smiling portrait beams from the fireplace mantle. Kelli Hallingquest looked at the photo of her late husband, James Hallingquest, the home's namesake. "He just was a very big personality," said Kelli of her husband, "very giving, very loving person."

It's taken more than a year and a half for the Hallingquest home to get to this point. Like addiction, the process of rehabilitating a house is at times painful, but necessary. With the Ivanhoe house, it was no different. New plumbing, new wiring, and essentially an all new basement.

But new paint and plumbing isn't enough, and the organizers know this. The church made a concerted effort to work with Truman Medical Center and Kansas City to make this into a home where people can leave their past behind, not repeat it.

There are rules and regulations all the nine residents must follow. They'll have to get jobs. The home is situated with easy access to main bus routes, and less than two blocks away from a grocery store. The church asked it not be named in this story, nor the address of the home disclosed, to give its incoming residents privacy.

Reverend Willie Thornton drove the project. He is both a former corrections worker, and former Kansas City Missouri Police Officer.

"If someone is dependent on drugs, nine times out of ten, they're going to be incarcerated" he explained of his time in corrections. "And I didn't want to see that."

As an officer, he said, "You're upholding the law. Locking them up, does that help? It's a band-aid."

This, he said, allows him to get to the root of the problem. "If you can help someone's circumstance, that's where change begins. So if I can help before they get locked up, then that's where change can begin."

As his wife Brandy said, "We just want them to be successful, and to become whole, and to be able to move forward with their lives."

If you, or someone you know, is interested in becoming a resident of the J. Hallingquest Home, contact bringinghopekc@gmail.com.

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