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Esther Home helps women recover

LIBERTY — Offering a faith-based recovery program for women, the Esther Home for Women opened last summer as a result of the work by Project 180, a non-profit organization.

April Mack, executive director, said the Esther Home for Women is an alternative path to rehab where women are able to live, receive counseling and build a spiritual relationship with God in a structured environment.

The grand opening was held in August for the recovery home, which is a Christian discipleship program helping women with drug, alcohol and other addictions. Mack said women live on site for seven months and receive counseling and parenting classes and then for the next seven months stay connected to the program with mentorship and counseling services.

”We help the women get back into society in a healthy way. This home is a place of hope for them. We show them there is hope as we build their confidence,” Mack said.

She said the local program is modeled after one that started 17 years ago in Georgia by Tammi McKinney, who is now involved with Esther Home. That program has helped more than 100 women.

”We liked what we saw with the program in Georgia and the great results they saw there. We want to help women find their identity and believe Jesus Christ is the answer to anyone’s problems whether an addiction or whatever someone is facing in their lives,” Mack said.

Mack said she saw a great need for the program locally since friends have lost family members to addiction.

The home sits on more than eight acres on a property off Sampson Road and can house up to 12 residents and two staff members. The house was in foreclosure and was purchased earlier this year and has received $800,000 in renovations, Mack said. Project 180 did a makeover to transform the house into the Esther Home.

Mack said the home has been supported and helped by Grace Fellowship Church, but both are separate.

”We want the women living here to discover who God created them to be. We want to talk about their futures,” she said.

McKinney said the setting is made to be ”home-like” for the women.

Laura Panagis, who has been in the program since September, said this is the first faith-based program she has been involved with that focuses on God’s word.

”Through this program, things have been restored in my life that I thought I had destroyed, such as my relationship with my family,” she said.

Gianna Duponty, who has been in the program since October, said the program has helped give her hope and helped restore her relationship with her children.

”I thought it would be possible for me to get better and now I know it is possible through the program. We all have that chance to have a change of heart. We all may have different addictions and struggles but we all share the same feelings to some extent and rely on God,” Duponty said.

Jessica Wolfgang, who is in the program, said she lost a family member to an overdose. She said the program has helped her see new opportunities in her life and the staff has become like a family to her.

Mack said program participants learn to get through the moment to reach the milestone. She said everyone faces challenges and bad times in their lives but learn how to handle situations and not turn to drugs or alcohol.

”It takes time for someone to heal,” Mack said.

Michaela Lepur, a staff member, said she hopes she can be a friend and like a sister to the women needing help.

”I know God helped make changes in my life,” she said.

Volunteers from Grace Fellowship Church and the community stop at the home to visit, take part in crafts and activities and bring meals.

Project 180 also hopes in the future to work with children in foster care affected by drugs and alcohol addiction, Mack said. Donations and funds received are used for scholarships to cover the costs for the women, Mack said.

For information, email amack@weareproject180.org.

bocupland@tribtoday.com

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