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Potsdam church plans to open aftercare home

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POTSDAM — Members of a village church plan to open a group home for homeless women who struggle with drug addiction looking to restart their lives.

New Hope Transformation House Ministries, a company formed by members of New Hope Community Church, will present its preliminary plan Thursday to the village Planning Board.

If the village grants the necessary permits, construction likely will begin at 88 Market St. next spring.

The 10- to 12-bed home will be an aftercare facility for women leaving rehab without a place to go. It will provide a drug-free environment, job placement and recovery help from a Christian world view.

“We will help them develop a Christian perspective on how to solve the pains in our life, and also how to find what I would call ‘healthy highs’ in their lives, instead of what I would call addictive highs,” said New Hope’s pastor ,John T. Ault, who provides spiritual counseling to rehab patients at Canton-Potsdam Hospital.

Plans for the house have been in the works for about a year and a half, Mr. Ault said. The idea came from Caroline White, formerly the director of the chemical dependency unit at Canton-Potsdam Hospital. There are several aftercare homes for men in the area, but the only one for women in the north country is in Watertown.

Women will stay at the house for six months to a year, enough time to find a job and get their lives together.

“It takes a while for people to develop the necessary life skills,” Mr. Ault said.

The house will take in women who are committed to recovery and are willing to abide by the living standards set by the program. Although the program will be faith-based, women will not need to belong to any religion to live at the house.

A resident director will live at the house full-time and will help maintain a drug-free environment. Anyone at the home who is found to be using drugs will be asked to leave, Mr. Ault said. It is not yet decided who will serve as resident director.

Drug addiction is a large problem in the north country, although many do not like to talk about it, Mr. Ault said. He cited a ready supply of drugs, a poor economy and high unemployment as reasons for drug use.

“People who are involved in addictions may get into addiction because of the highs they experience, but the engine that drives them and keeps them there are the pains in their lives,” he said.

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