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New Hope ministries conducts addiction survey, seeks funding for halfway house

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POTSDAM — Addiction was shown the light of day at the Potsdam SummerFest last weekend, as New Hope Transformation House Ministries conducted a survey on the subject Friday and Saturday.

The organization hoped to teach the public about the nature of addiction, and raise awareness. New Hope is seeking funding to build a women’s halfway house in Potsdam, something that is unavailable in St. Lawrence County.

Beds for recovering female addicts in St. Lawrence and Franklin counties can be found at crisis centers in Utica and Syracuse, and in homeless shelters in Rochester and Syracuse, but the wait from there for a halfway house can be six to 12 weeks or more, said Carolyn M. White, chairwoman of New Hope Transformation House Ministries. Many waiting for these beds are in home environments where domestic abuse, drinking and drug deals are common.

For them, “home is not really a safe place,” Mrs. White said.

Approximately 70 people participated in the survey, writing their responses to questions on large boards the organization had created. Some respondents were addicts, who asked for additional information on the organization’s addiction programs after participating.

“We had a lot of fun and we helped a lot of people,” Mr. Ault said.

The survey’s intent was to be an interactive, awareness-building activity, informing festivalgoers of New Hope’s vision to have a halfway house for recovering female addicts in Potsdam, and teach how addiction happens, according to Mr. Ault. At the same time, New Hope wanted to get the public’s perspective on addiction.

“This was not meant to be a statistically accurate survey,” Mr. Ault said.

In response to one question, one quarter of those surveyed said they felt people in the north country were in some kind of physical, circumstantial or relationship-based pain.

Mr. Ault said that it is not knowing what to do that sort of pain that leads people to drugs, known as a “motivational definition of addiction.”

“People don’t solve their problems. They solve their feelings,” he said. “A healthy high is a celebration of reality; an unhealthy high is an escape from reality.”

Mr. Ault chose not to go into detail on why the partnership between New Hope Transformation House Ministries and North Country Freedom Homes fell through earlier this year.

“It did not work out with governmental funding requirements,” he said.

The organization is still seeking funding for its halfway house with the Homeless Housing Assistance Program of New York.

“If we are awarded the grant, we will have the money to purchase that piece of property and money for the construction of the house,” Mrs. White said.

New Hope has approval from the village to use the vacant lot at 88 Market St. for its halfway house, but is still seeking the funding to purchase the property and build the facility.

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