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Community gathers at ‘building of second chances’

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Lisa Dunlap Photo “Refuge, relaunch, restored hope,” are key themes of the Harvest House on North Washington Avenue, said Lt. Col. Kelly Pontsler. The new transitional sobriety home was dedicated Thursday afternoon.

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Lt. Col. Kelly Pontsler recalled a camping trip she took where torrential rains and howling winds forced her to hold up her tent with her arms and legs all night, all the time fearing she and her tent would be blown away.

When the storm ended late in the night, she remembered having a moment to be thankful. Then the sprinklers at the campsite turned on and flooded her tent.

The Southwest divisional commander of the Salvation Army was in Roswell on Thursday for the dedication of the Harvest House, a transitional sobriety facility on the Salvation Army campus on North Washington Avenue.

Pontsler told the gathering that she thinks her camping experience is similar to those of men dealing with the “raging storm of addiction.”

“They are holding on with everything they have just to make it through,” she said.

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They need something like the Harvest House, she said. The house will provide a sober and secure living environment for up to four men from Chaves County who have graduated from a six-month drug and alcohol rehabilitation program in Albuquerque. The first of its kind in the region, Pontsler described the house as a refuge from addiction-filled lives, a chance to relaunch into a new life of healthy living and working, and a place to restore relationships and faith.

“No one has to do it alone,” she said. “It does take a village, but no one has to do it alone.”

About 40 people from the Salvation Army, the Roswell Chamber of Commerce and the local community attended the dedication. Remarks included a brief speech by Mayor Dennis Kintigh, who talked about arresting substance users when he was a law enforcement officer.

“It needed to be done, but it didn’t solve problems,” he said. “This is about solving problems.”

The house is a culmination of three years of efforts by the Roswell unit of the Salvation Army, under the leadership of Lt. Joe West and his wife, Lt. Amber West. The $190,000 project has been funded by various units of the Salvation Army as well as local fundraising events and individual and business donations.

Attending the event were men participating in the Albuquerque program who had an opportunity to reunite for a time with family and could be living in the house one day.

A man 35 days into the rehabilitation program said the house would mean a safe place to rebuild his life.

“It would be a place to lay my head to rest,” he said. “It would mean a sense of security. A sober place to live is what I need.”

Senior Writer Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 310, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.