Local New nonprofit for area men seeks to bridge gap between rehab and normal life | CullmanSense

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New nonprofit for area men seeks to bridge gap between rehab and normal life

CULLMAN - The Cullman area has access to some highly regarded drug rehabilitation services through organizations like The Foundry Ministries and recovery programs like Restoring Women Outreach (RWO) that help get people ready to transition back into regular life.

RWO is, as the name implies, a program for women, and there has not been a comparable service for men, something that bridges the gap between intensive residential programs like the Foundry and life in the outside world.  That can be a problem for men recovering from addiction. The longer a person can be separated from the context of his or her addiction, the better the chances of full recovery. With men coming out of programs in a year, and some coming out of jail after a matter of months, that distance in time is just not enough for some.

Now, a group of concerned citizens, including some high-profile community leaders, has come together to form Cullman Re-Entry Addiction Assistance (CREAA), a faith-based long-term service for men coming out of rehab programs or jail that gives them a place to live, the support of counselors and peers in similar situations, and assistance in doing the things they need to do to transition back to “the real world.”

CREAA was incorporated in the spring of 2017 by counselor Albert Pugh, Dr. Bill Peinhardt and Jo Kreps.  

According to a statement from Kreps: “The mission of CREAA is to bring healing and restoration to individuals and families touched by addiction and addiction-related mental illness.  Our goal is to provide services to improve the physical, mental and spiritual health of those re-entering the community from incarceration, rehabilitation or homelessness due to addiction.  Our commitment is to provide appropriate services to support these individuals as they return to a normal life. This transition back into our community is only possible through integration with other community services.”

In a conversation with The Tribune, Kreps said, “We take people that have come out of rehab, that really have no place to go, unless it’s back to their friends who are doing this.  But we’re still trying to direct them in a different direction.”

She explained that, when men come out of jail or a rehab program, they may have little money or other resources, and family and friends are often wary of tying up their own resources in someone who might relapse.  CREAA will help men get back to work and back to something approaching normal daily life, while giving them the opportunity to stay away from the settings in which they got in trouble, and in which they would be dangerously likely to return to trouble.

The organization’s board of directors includes the three founders with Pugh as president, plus Cullman County Sheriff Matt Gentry, Assistant Cullman Police Chief Craig Montgomery, Rev. James Fields, Karen Willingham Gable and Maria Steele.  Pugh and Fields have both worked with recovery programs in other places, and Gentry works with various programs offering services to inmates at the Cullman County Detention Center.

For Kreps and Steele, the project is a little more personal. Steele lost her son Bryan, and Kreps lost her son Clay, to drug overdoses.  

Kreps, whose son became addicted to pain medication after surgery and relapsed after rehab, wrote in an email: “Our hearts were broken, our lives were drastically changed, and we do not want this to happen to any other family.  A place for them to continue their rehabilitation/transition back into the community once out of rehab was (and still) is desperately needed.”

Montgomery told The Tribune, “We have rented a house here in town (The specific location is currently confidential).  And the name of the house is the Bryan Clay House; so we took the first names of both sons . . . and the idea is to have a home setting where they can have a place to bed down, to eat their meals.  If they don’t have transportation, we have acquired a van for the organization.

“We have a gentleman, Nathan Gable (who serves as CREAA’s program manager), who actually lives in the residence, kind of oversees the residence to make sure that whoever lives there is complying with the rules and regulations of the facility.  He also uses the van to help these gentlemen get to places of work: get there, get them home; if they need to run errands to the grocery store, if they need to go to the courthouse to get their license, Nathan is the one that helps them get around.”

Residents will have to pay a small amount to stay at the house, but will be sheltered and fed, and will receive assistance in finding and getting to jobs. They can also be transported to take care of some of the administrative and logistical needs of life. The faith-based group encourages men to attend church and will help them find a local congregation and even provide transportation to some services.  

The Bryan Clay House opened its doors on April 1, 2018.  As of mid-April, the 10-bed facility had three residents.

CREAA and the Bryan Clay House are still works in progress.  In coming weeks, The Tribune will follow up with more information, including ways that members of the Cullman community can get involved in supporting this ministry.  

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