House of Hope sober living facility breaks ground

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: GCSAC Director Kathy Grimes, right, speaks about how her meeting with Marge Schade, seated, led to the formation of the House of Hope Prevention & Resource Center.

By Jon Johnson

GRAHAM COUNTY – Law enforcement, government officials, rehabilitation specialists, and community members gathered with the Graham County Substance Abuse Coalition (GCSAC) on Wednesday to break ground on the House of Hope Prevention & Resource Center.

Graham County Board of Supervisors Chairman Paul David was the keynote speaker at the event and explained the reason for the facility. 

“This House of Hope will fulfill the desires and expectations of its humble and sincere residents,” he said. “Those (who) reside in this House of Hope will have successfully completed a rehabilitation program, some lasting as long as eight months. Their hope and dreams will be to transition back to full control and strength of their bodies, minds, and spirits while continuing to receive guidance and positive reinforcement in controlling their addictive behaviors from counselors and peers . . . The goal for each resident is to return to full health, work productivity, and independence. To again become an asset to their families and community. Their examples of healing, positive change, and self-control will inspire others.” 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Marge Schade, center, breaks ground on the House of Hope Prevention & Resource Center while being flanked by GCSAC members, from left, John Howard and Jon Stewart.

The 14-bed facility will house male residents who have gone through a rehabilitation facility and are transitioning back into society. The House of Hope is set on a one-acre lot just east of the Pepsi plant off 1st Street. The home will be a 4,000-square-foot building with a full-time facilitator on the property and will feature a meeting room, laundry room, computer center, and outdoor facilities. While no timetable has been set for the opening of the facility, bids are already being accepted for its construction.  

Major funding for the facility came through $100,000 donations from both the city of Safford and Freeport McMoRan Community Investment Foundation. Safford Mayor Jason Kouts said he is currently working with City Manager Horatio Skeete on finding additional funding for the facility.  

“I look forward to presenting them with another check in the near future,” Kouts said. “This is a great facility that is going to help get Safford the help that is needed as far as the resources that are needed for the epidemic we are facing. I’m ok with it being planted right here.”

The land, which was formerly part of a cotton field, was donated by Marge Schade, founder and CEO of Southeastern Bottling, which operates the Pepsi bottling plant on 8th Avenue. Part of the land was also secured through a land swap with local developer Ted Prina. 

On Wednesday, Schade broke ground on the project with a gold-painted shovel. 

“I’m just so happy it became a reality,” Schade told the Gila Herald. “We just have to keep going now. This job has just begun.”

GCAC Director Kathy Grimes spoke highly of Schade at the groundbreaking and how their meeting roughly two years ago spurred action to make the facility a reality. Grimes told the Gila Herald that the process has been a long time coming and the community support is what has helped them come to this point. 

“If everybody contributes just a little bit, can you imagine what we can accomplish?” Grimes questioned.

After the House of Hope is built, Grimes added that the Coalition is hoping to build a separate facility for female occupants as well.  

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Those involved with the House of Hope pose for a group photo.

David urged the community to continue its support for the facility and said it will need monthly contributions to operate. 

“In Graham County, the rescue plan is completed, the site selected, the team assembled, the materials and equipment await delivery,” David said. “Faith, hope, and charity are present. We have hope and soon a House of Hope.”

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