Faith and Healing: Recovery program for addicts is getting radical new look

 By Sue Loughlin

SULLIVAN, Ind. (AP) — A sign in the Luke House dining room reads, “With God, all things are possible.”
Luke House volunteers and sponsors hope that message inspires future residents to continue on their path to addiction recovery.

Luke House, a faith-based program for addiction recovery support in Sullivan, is undergoing major renovations and changes in operation.

First opened in 2007, it closed last summer for upgrades that include rewiring, new drywall and ceilings, a new kitchen and bathroom, painting and new or refurbished flooring.

The two-story house at 128 Crowder St. dates back to the early 1900s or late 1800s.

“It was in dire need of renovation,” said David Scott, the Luke House board president who also is pastor at Apostolic Faith Tabernacle in Sullivan. “Also, we had to make some corrections in policies and procedures and some staffing changes.”

His daughter, Jessamy Champion, will serve as the new director. The board consists of seven members from churches and businesses; the board oversees operations.

When it reopens later this year, it will serve women only, with a maximum of 10 residents; previously, it served both women and men.

“We’re trying to break the chains and habits” of addiction, Scott told the Tribune-Star, “and help them realize there are greater possibilities past that life.”

The name Luke House is based on the Gospel of Luke and conveys a message of compassion for those recovering from addictions, he said.

Residents will be required to have a job, take classes and attend the church of their choice; they also must pay $400 per month to cover rent and related costs. “Everyone who comes will be by court referral,” Scott said, and all must have sponsors.

Volunteers will offer classes in such areas as budgeting, cooking, housekeeping and parenting. Residents also will be able to participate in Bible studies, Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

The program will serve Sullivan and outlying counties. “This isn’t just for Sullivan,” said Jerry Meier, a renovation volunteer, whose son and daughter are on the board.

Luke House relies on community support, with individuals, businesses and churches donating funding and labor for the renovations. In mid-April, Lowe’s is providing and installing a new kitchen complete with new appliances, cabinetry, flooring, paint and lighting. Some churches are “adopting a room,” and contractors are donating various services.

One church has taken responsibility to renovate a bathroom, supplying labor and materials, while another has pledged money for work in the foyer.

Scott said his church will do drywall, texturing of the ceilings and painting.

Merrell McNeill, an electrician, has volunteered to do the rewiring. “The Lord has blessed me in so many different ways, it’s one way for me to give back,” McNeill said.

Scott said a goal is to open Luke House by this summer, but first renovations must be completed and some operating funds must be raised.

“We’re doing our best to raise some of the operating expenses before we open back up because won’t have the maximum number of residents at the start,” Scott said. “We’re working on some grants and things of that nature.”

At some point, when Luke House has more residents paying monthly fees that help cover operating expenses, the plan and goal is to set other funds aside to open a similar addiction recovery program for men, Scott said.

“There will be a lot of volunteers involved in the day-to-day operations of Luke House,” Scott said, with committees dedicated to food service, maintenance and hospitality when new residents arrive.

The garage also will be renovated into a meeting and training room.

Meier, who is a member of Graysville Methodist Church, said he is volunteering with the renovation as a way to give back and help others. His son, who used drugs for many years and was in and out of jail, benefited from counselors and a re-entry program provided at a correctional institution.

“He’s been drug-free for six years,” Meier said. Someone helped his son, “and now I want to try and help someone else.”

His son, Jeff Meier, serves on the Luke House board.

The renovation has brought some surprises. When pulling out some fireplace bricks as part of the renovation, Meier discovered four letters that date back to 1910 and 1911. One letter dealt with a ticket to a ball game, while another included information about a family member taking classes in Bloomington — the classes included French, astronomy and economics.

The letters will go to the Sullivan County Historical Society.
Meier also pointed to the house’s original woodwork, including a staircase with steps made of cherry and spindles made of walnut. Part of the foyer floor had elaborate, inlaid woodwork made of oak and walnut.