A Sisterhood of Recovery

sisters of recovery
Sandy, Agnes, Angela, Micki, Sarah, Michelle, Erica, Madeline, Hannah, Amy, Amanda, Betsy, Kelly, Denise, Stevie, Kelly, Andrea and Tracey.

These were just the women who could come on short notice to have their picture taken. They represent dozens more young women who have found a way out of addiction through the women’s houses of Dawn Farm’s successful Chapin Street Project.

Each one of these women is a miracle.

Founded in 1999, Dawn Farm’s transitional housing has helped thousands of people find a safe place to live and learn the basics of recovery. Chapin Street Project residents find full-time employment, attend 12-step meetings and do community service. But more than anything else, they learn how to become members of a community. These two sister houses exemplify this community. Side by side, these two houses share a single House Manager in Erica (that’s her in the middle of the front row). They meet together regularly, shop for groceries together, cook and have meals together, cry on one another’s shoulders.

These women encourage and challenge one another to find meaningful recovery—and they do it as a powerful group of like-minded people. Sister house residents come from all over the state, but many of the women who enter these two houses grew up right around here.

Stevie grew up in a local farming community, but alcohol and cocaine brought her to the houses. “Living here is amazing,” she says. “I have a family of recovering women to go home to.” Stevie has a job downtown and is grateful she can walk to work every day. Amy used methamphetamines. Erica came with a bad alcohol problem. Hannah arrived from western Wayne county with a cocaine and heroin habit—now she has a full-time job in Ann Arbor. Andrea came from Oakland County with a heroin addiction—now she’s a full-time student, hoping to be an attorney. She is grateful for the experience: “The best part was being accountable to other strong women in recovery. It forced me to build relationships—even when I didn’t want to. It really helped my transition into society.”

There are dozens of stories. Stories of hope. And then there are the babies. Dawn Farm often admits pregnant women and follows their recovery long after their babies are born. Many of these moms and infants end up in transitional housing. Nine moms with babies have entered the Chapin Street Project in recent years—and we welcomed our first twins late in 2007!

Each time we open a transitional housing site (like the 12 new McKinley apartments in November), the beds fill up with people looking for a simple, safe place to find new recovery. Andrea offers this advice, “Living in the house was one of the best things I did for myself. If you’re thinking it over—just do it.”

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