One month ago, a group of women in recovery from addiction were facing a ticking clock. The home and family that had taken them in could no longer help them, and there was no clear alternative on the horizon.
Saturday, they moved into a new home, a new ministry and a new life. The women of Meadows Depot are following a new path forward.
"There's been a unity of heart. We are here to unite and to do what's been presented to us." said Sandy Dykema, director of Second Step Living.
Second Step Living is a Christ-based 12-step program for men and women recovering from addiction, and is overseen by Outreach Ministries International.
The ministry has been in place for about a year serving men in a residential recovery program. Helping these women was an ideal way to expand their work, said Jason McEachron, pastor of Gravity Church in Lodi.
"Of all the people that stepped up to help, there was no person who didn't support the vision of what we wanted to do here. That shared vision has been really enjoyable to be a part of," he said.
This ministry expansion translates to a new home for women and children in need.
A handful of women and their children were living at Meadows Depot in Acampo while in recovery. But they had to move out after Paula "Mom" Meadows passed away in July. Her family could no longer run her ministry, and sold the property. After weeks of uncertainty, a solution was found in connection with the Lodi Food Bank in Victor.
Gravity Church worked with the Lodi Food Bank last year. The house was formerly used by food bank employees.
The house is in good condition, and there's a small yard for children. There are enough beds for six or seven women, depending on the number of children.
Four women and two children will move in this weekend, and one child will live there part time.
A "house mom" will live on-site. A case manager and vocational trainer have volunteered their services to help the women find employment.
There will be opportunities to learn job skills, such as stocking, boxing and office work, by putting in hours at the food bank. In addition, there is plenty of room on-site to hold meetings so women can work through their recovery steps without having to travel.
"This is too perfect to be true. That was my reality when I saw this place," said Dykema.
Six different churches have come together to support the Food Bank and Second Step Living.
"There's something about seeing people work together like this. It's a perfect marriage. The food bank was designed for ministries to come together," said McEachron.
A clean-up day was held last weekend to prepare the house and the property for new inhabitants.
The women were excited to move in and move forward.
"One woman asked me yesterday, can she go work, can she go look at the place. Their excitement is through the roof," said Dykema.
Part of the process of recovery is learning how to perform everyday tasks, like cooking, laundry, or parenting, while sober.
Dykema recalled a woman recovering from alcoholism who practiced opening cabinet doors in her kitchen each day. She was training herself to go into the kitchen without a drink in her hand, said Dykema. Having a stable, safe home is essential to that process.
The women will not reside here permanently. They will cycle through the program and make room for other women in need and their children.
"This ministry was created to serve an immediate need. But we are here now to serve the community," said Dykema.
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.