Four women graduated from the Jericho House in Bucyrus on Monday and embarked on the next chapter in their lives.
The Jericho House was founded more than a year ago by Rev. Margie Maddox and her husband, John Maddox to provide a home for women to learn to live without drugs or alcohol and get their lives on track. The pair also heads up the Alpha Recovery 12-Step Program that, according to Crawford County Common Pleas Court Judge Sean Leuthold, has the highest success rate of helping people battling addiction in the area.
Heather Howlett came to the house to stay six months ago when she realized she could not beat her addiction to opiates on her own.
“I kept thinking I could do it by myself but I couldn’t. Margie loved me when I couldn’t love myself. My relationship with God and Jesus Christ has never been stronger,” said Howlett, who is attending North Central State College to obtain her degree in Human Services. “I want to work as a biblical counselor and provide others with the information and coping skills I received while at the Jericho House.”
Crystal Dean, who has also battled opiate addiction, is also attending North Central State to further her education but took it one step further.
“I am working at the Crawford Success Center as a receptionist and a tutor,” Dean said with a bright smile.
Dean has her own place to move into from the Jericho House and will be integrating her 8-year-old son into living with her again from his grandparents’ home.
Anissa Surgener is working at Bob Evans with a goal in management ahead of her.
“I went down the wrong path and made a mess of my life. I couldn’t dig my way out, everything seemed so overwhelming. Margie taught us how to break things down into small goals and I have taken steps to fix things,” said Surgener, the mother of three children who will be coming to live with her within the next month.
Kristen Nickelson said she was addicted to opiates and crack cocaine.
“When I came to the Jericho House, I did not know God at all. I realized I couldn’t stop my addiction on my own and now, I know anything is possible with God in my life,” said Nickelson who will be reuniting with her three-year-old son Peyton. “I can’t wait to be with him. My son is worth more than my addiction.”
The four women attended an informal hearing in Crawford County Municipal Court before Judge Shane Leuthold to drop pending charges since completing the six-month program at the Jericho House.
Leuthold said that living in the house is like learning to swim at the YMCA.
“You go there for swim lessons and it’s warm, your parents are on the sidelines, you have your instructor with you. It’s a lot different than being dropped into the middle of the cold ocean with sharks which is similar to what you are embarking on now. You will be out on your own and you need to make wise, healthy choices and beware of the sharks,” Leuthold said.
Leuthold said all four women appear healthy, beautiful and happy.
“You look a lot different than when you first appeared in my courtroom. I want you to stay focused on your new healthy life. Many people relapse and end up back in front of me on new charges or worse, they end up dying of an overdose,” said Leuthold. “Please make the right choices and stay on the healthy path you are now on.”
John Maddox said his motto when mentoring people battling addiction is, “If you treat a person as he is, he will remain as he is. If you treat a person as he could be, he will become what he should be.”
For more information on the Jericho House or the recovery program, visit http://www.alpha12step.com.
Reach Gasuras on Twitter: @kimberlygasuras