Plans have been drawn up and fundraising is right on schedule for the new transition house that the Salvation Army is building. As men graduate from the drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility they run in Albuquerque and return to the Roswell area, this house will give those in recovery a safe place to reintegrate into society. Lt. Joe West displays the plans for the new house, which will be built on the south side of the current building at the corner of North Washington Avenue and West College Boulevard. (Curtis Michaels Photo)
The Salvation Army in Roswell is preparing to invest in Roswell’s future. Lt. Joe West, co-corps officer along with his wife, Amber, said they’re about to build a home.
If all goes as planned, the home will be located on the south side of the Salvation Army’s current building on the corner of North Washington Avenue and West College Boulevard.
“When my wife and I arrived in Roswell,” West said, “we realized that it’s not easy for guys here that go through the Salvation Army drug and alcohol rehabilitation program and come back after six months. It’s extraordinarily difficult for them to reintegrate. It’s not even a reintegration, they’re just trying to live their lives like they’ve never lived before.”
They knew where to go for answers.
“We were praying about it,” West said. “We feel like the Lord gave us this vision to build a home for some of these men who want to come back and live near their families. It’s difficult for them, they graduate and then they return to the same situation, but are expected to change their lives.”
West is ready to make this difference.
“This home gives them increased freedom,” West said. “They would be required to have a job, to meet with me, to continue in a 12-step weekly program and to continue in Sunday meetings. We believe that the spiritual emphasis in the rehab programs is a big part of why they are successful. Beyond that there is increased freedom, but there’s also a modicum of structure and discipline.”
He understands the challenges these men face.
“We talk about bringing them back into society,” West said, “but they’re not going back to where they used to live. They need a little bit of practice in living life in what is considered a normal way.”
The Salvation Army will offer an answer that could make all the difference for them.
“There is no manager,” West said. “I’ll oversee it. We’ll have one guy who will be able to extend for a year whom we feel is responsible enough to help the new guys as they come in.”
The logistics have come together with few road blocks.
“We have plans that Donald Daugherty drew up for us,” West said. “We’ve got a contractor submitting a bid. We’re about halfway through fundraising. Our goal is $140,000. We’re optimistic. We’ve been working on fundraising for about a year. We expect to be done raising funds by Christmas. A friend of mine says, ‘What God commands, He enables’”
Their plans go beyond giving the men a safe place to live.
“These men want to come back home,” West said. “They want to mend relationships. They want to be successful. They want to be contributors and they’re looking for a little bit of help. We end up employing some of these guys who graduate. We get references from the folks at the center. We’re excited about the potential for these guys to go up there, come back down and get their feet under them.”
Beau Perez spoke to the effectiveness of transitional housing.
“The Salvation Army did a five-year longitudinal study on the retained rate of sobriety on the graduates of our program after one year of initial entry,” Perez said. “If they complete a regular 6-month program without a home like this, the retained rate of sobriety is 23 percent. If a graduate completes a program and enters a Salvation Army transitional home, the retained rate of sobriety after one year is 83 percent.”
“The initial 6-month setting is institutional while they’re working on early sobriety,” Perez said. “There are essential life-sustaining skills that they don’t get there. They don’t learn things like healthy shopping for themselves and cooking for themselves. Also, the other part of that is when people are in trouble they tend to isolate. The building is designed to get them out of their room and into the larger communal area where they’re interacting with others. Those who know them can tell if something’s wrong and the arrangement is conducive to supporting them.”
Another piece of the puzzle came together recently in the form of a new partnership.
“We’ve begun to partner with Reflections in Recovery,” West said. “They hold a really great 12-step program which I participate in, and help lead one of the groups. They’ve started meeting in our building Tuesday nights. We eat at 5 p.m., large group starts at 6, then we break into small groups. It’ll be a great opportunity for our guys to come and continue to work the program. We’re trying to make this a holistic program.”
The work of the Salvation Army is well represented in West’s project.
“Our mission statement is to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and to meet human need in his name without discrimination,” West said. “We’re straight forward in that our mission is to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ. So, while we have elements that look like churches, we have youth programs and women’s programs. We really focus on outreach. That’s the main focus for us.”
Reporter’s note: During the interview some of the Salvation Army’s Roswell history was discussed, and Rex McCulley came up in the conversation. McCulley was the corps officer in Roswell in the early ‘70s. He was also a trained circus clown and magician. He was Roswell’s first Ronald McDonald. For those who remember Captain McCulley, he died of bone cancer on October 21, 2003, with his family by his side.
Features reporter Curtis M. Michaels can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 205, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.