Opinion: Unitarian Universalists urge approval for Transformation House in Canton
To the Editor:
The Social Action Committee of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Canton strongly supports the initiative to provide local (SLC) women with a “supported living home” in the unused rectory of Grace Episcopal Church.Already approved by the Zoning Board, the plan is to help up to six women who are well along in the process of recovery from chemical addiction find a community and life habits that will help them live well. We have similar facilities for men in our county, but for women the North Country offers only a small program in Watertown. The need for this kind of support for women is great, given the devastations of addiction in our society.
Our Committee and our minister, the Rev. James Galasinski, appreciate the well-thought out plans and the experience which New Hope Transformation Ministries (a 501 (c) 3) bring to this initiative. The board chair is Carolyn White, a credentialed addictions counselor in NYS and past director of the rehabilitation unit and outpatient services at CPH.
Currently she is president of North Country Freedom Homes, which provides support for men in recovery and has operated here effectively for over twenty years with community support. Like the proposed facility, Freedom Homes began as a pilot program and has grown into a substantial “halfway house.” Transformation House will also begin as a modest pilot program for women who have completed inpatient rehab program.
Residents who have been judged ready live on their own will benefit from a sober peer support group, a live-in supervisor monitoring that everyone is abstaining from drugs, and a structured program tailored to the individual’s aspirations. This may include further schooling and job training, volunteer or paid work in the community, and in-residence educational and spiritual programs designed to help them realize their potential.
We hope that this pilot program will grow into one serving more women with more levels of care, though this can’t happen at this location, which can accommodate only six residents. This is a start on providing an urgently needed form of support to women in St. Lawrence County –- daughters, sisters and wives of our neighbors, and sometimes of our own. We urge the Village Planning Board to approve this initiative.
Patricia Alden and Margaret Harloe
Social Action Committee co-chairs