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(3-20-19)  “Addictions are an equal opportunity destroyer!” That’s what Sandy Huckemeyer has learned through her work with the Mercer County Houses of Hope for men and women. Huckemeyer is the Executive Director of the program which she described at the March 13th meeting of the Celina Kiwanis.

The program gives participants a stable environment to live in while they work to overcome their dependence on drugs and alcohol. A faith-based organization, they receive no direct assistance from the government but do benefit from their tax exempt status as a nonprofit as well as tax deductible donations from supporters.

Participants must live in Mercer County. They sign an agreement to stay at least 8 months due to the length of time it takes to clear the drugs or alcohol from their systems. They may stay as long as 18 months. Participation in the program begins with an application and/or a referral. A 6 page formal application is reviewed, and the applicant is interviewed. When individuals are approved, they enter a program that consists of 5 phases.

The ground rules are set up in Phase 1: attend AA or other support meetings and be part of a 12 step program; schedule an assessment with a professional counselor at a facility such as the government-assisted Foundations; attend a Bible study; attend all house meetings, groups and events; attend church weekly; complete all assigned tasks readily; record check out and check in times. The first phase lasts 30 days. In Phase 2  residents also look for  jobs and begin paying house fees. Fees begin at $50 per month. They increase as the participants move through the phases. Phases 2 and 3 last 60 days each. Phases 4 and 5 last 90 days each.

Huckemeyer introduced Mandie Thomas, a current resident of the women’s House of Hope. In  an attempt to get her life back on track, Thomas applied to the program. She recently gave birth to twins who light up the lives of the program’s participants and staff. She hopes to regain custody of her other children eventually but knows first she must focus 100 percent on her recovery. She has made a good start.

For more information about the Mercer County Houses of Hope, contact or call 567 890-4674.

The Kiwanis Club of Celina meets every Wednesday at noon at CJ’s Highmarks. Like them on Facebook or find them at