By Mark Powell
A Blueprint for Female Recovery Success
Something new arrived on the recovery scene on April 21, 2016. That was the day Hope Street began operating. Its mission includes the goal of giving families a blueprint for hope from addiction. But it gives much more than that.
It gives a female voice to the recovery process.
“We wanted to advocate for female recovery housing,” says Executive Director Erin Goldner. “We wanted to help motivate people. People need hope. People are dying and people are suffering. And Hope Street offers hope.”
In 2016, Goldner says there were “a lot of policy disconnects.” People were in denial. It was as if no one wanted to take responsibility. “I came across a lot of pregnant women who were addicted. They were going through a lot and often felt judgment within the community and healthcare system. They told me, ‘We needed a better solution, we need a safe place to go.’”
Hope Street provides women warm, safe, welcoming and non-judgmental environments while they undergo treatment. Its focus is on trauma informed care. Early intervention is an important part of the organization. That includes linking people to support services, providing short-term housing, and offering leadership programs. The group is actively involved in building communities, providing advocacy and peer support, and creating a sanctuary for women.
“The woman’s story is a little different from a guy’s story,” Goldner explains. “Women may not feel safe because of things like domestic violence or losing their parental rights. So, they’re often silenced. That makes them feel like their voice doesn’t matter, like they’re pushed in a corner with options.”
Goldner understands those feelings all too well. She’s in long-term recovery herself and says she had given up at one point and thought she would wind up on the street, in jail, or dead. But she got in treatment and turned her life around. Now, she uses her experience to help other women.
She says it’s hard to count the number of women Hope Street has reached; she talks to and helps at least one new person every week. Take the story of GG, for instance: “I met her a few times. Her mother had come to me because she knew of my work. GG was pregnant (she now has three kids). She was someone who was going to die and so was her husband. In fact, we weren’t sure if she was going to make it. She’s now in recovery and cleared of HCV.”
“Another girl gave birth in my car because she felt safe there,” Goldner adds. “She was young and had a lot of issues. Now she has full custody of her kids, she’s been in recovery for two years, and is the manager of a restaurant.”
Goldner doesn’t call the people Hope Street reaches clients; she refers to them simply as friends. And that 12 personal, friendly approach is producing amazing results. “You help them discover more about themselves. That makes people feel happy and empowered. The color returns to their face and they start to smile. There’s a simple reason for it. It’s because we help people dream again.”
Hope Street was a featured award winner in the 2019 Innovation Now project of the Addiction Policy Forum.
J. Mark Powell is an author, former network journalist, and veteran communications expert.