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Women of Meadows Depot may have found a new home

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Sandy Dykema

Sherry Dickoff

Posted: Tuesday, July 31, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 12:31 pm, Tue Jul 31, 2012.

Change is coming for the women of Meadows Depot. Times are uncertain and the deadline for a solution is just over two weeks away. But with hope, faith and support from new corners, the women and their children will find a stable path through this transition.

About 20 women recovering from drug and alcohol addiction have been living in a halfway house in Acampo with their children. But Paula Meadows, the former foster mom who dedicated her life to helping women recover from addiction, passed away earlier this month and left the women in uncertainty.

In nine days, the goal moved from trying to save the property and the program to expanding an existing ministry for these women and children.

Jason McEachron, pastor of Gravity Church, and several local pastors have run a recovery ministry for men for one year, called Second Step Living. They were looking for a way to expand to help women, too.

This ministry has taken Sandy Dykema of Lodi and Sherry Dickhoff of Galt into their board of directors.

"It was kind of out of nowhere, but we met to talk about how we can connect churches and build community support to help these ladies," he said.

McEachron realized his vision for Second Step Living mirrored what Dykema was doing at Meadows Depot.

Opening their arms to a handful of women and their children who have called Meadows Depot home and have nowhere else to go seemed like the perfect opportunity, said McEachron.

"I want the women and the community to know: We are Second Step Living, and we have a plan," said Dykema. "It's not about the name or the property. It's about the girls."

Dykema has previously ministered to the women of Meadows Depot through A Woman's Heart Ministries and Lodi Bethel Church. She has stepped up to this work because she loves these women.

"If we invest in people and love them right where they are, it encourages them to go where they need to be," she said.

Dickhoff comes from a similar background in ministry. She has worked with A Woman's Heart and Celebrate Recovery. She does the work because she is called to it.

"This is where my heart is. Salvation means wholeness. God intended us to live whole, healthy lives and gave us the power to do it," she said.

Until a board can be established, Second Step Living will be overseen by Outreach Ministries International, an organization that helps independent ministries get started.

Dykema said the women of Meadows Depot have been encouraged in their faith after they learned a ministry was ready and waiting for them.

"They know people are out there, that they aren't being abandoned. That's huge for them," she said.

Eventually, the organizers hope to minister to men and women with children as they move through the 12 steps to recovery. The immediate need is a safe and secure location for the women and children who are living at Meadows Depot.

Dickhoff and Dykema are looking for a four-bedroom rental in Lodi or Galt, preferably outside the city limits to maintain the peace and anonymity of the former program.

"Free would be great. But that's not what we're asking. We just need to know if a place is there," said Dickhoff.

It won't be easy to pull this off by the quickly approaching Aug. 16 deadline. But McEachron said it's time.

"It's a win-win for the community. We can expand to help women quicker than we could have planned," said McEachron.

Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at sarap@lodinews.com.

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