Expansion to help Isaiah House recovery program
Eighteen years ago, Sally Jeffery began attending Cocaine Anonymous in the hopes of better understanding addicts and their recovery process.
During one meeting, the questions was asked, “What does grace mean to you?”
“I left crying because no one understood,” she recalled.
Born inside her was a desire to “bridge the gap” and help awaken understanding about faith and forgiveness, but she did not know what form that mission would take.
Fast forward a few years to when her husband, Ed, lost his job.
“We said, ‘Let’s celebrate because God has something for us,’” recalled Sally.
By this time, the couple shared a desire to be in full-time ministry and realized the change of life situations could lead to an open door to pursue that goal.
As they moved into a new normal, the Jefferys set aside fears related to security and finances and decided to step out on faith.
“From that day until now, there has been so much freedom,” she said.
They began working with addict recovery ministries and eventually developed a desire to found their own program. This hope became a reality in 2008 when they opened Isaiah House.
Sally noted the Ellijay-based nonprofit is the fruit that grew from her prayer that God make her home into a place where hurting people could restore their dignity.
“(God) changed my heart. He taught me to love and see the addict the way he does. My point of reference changed. He, beyond what I could imagine, changed me,” she said while describing her personal journey of faith.
Seeking sobriety, learning responsibility
The Isaiah House is in the business of helping “broken people,” Sally noted.
“How could you not want to do that? ... We have enough of a track record to see a man come in one way and to be fully recovered, restored with his family, (working in) a new career and living in sobriety. It’s so exciting to see that,” she continued.
The transitional home is open to 20 recovering addicts at a time. The organization is Christian-based and utilizes the 12 steps of recovery in its efforts to assist the men who live there.
“We try to give a home-like atmosphere. We’re almost mom and dad (to these guys),” said Ed.
Residents are asked to start with a six-month commitment to stay at the Isaiah House, and the participants come from a variety of situations, including jail, rehab and detox facilities.
“The men that come to us typically already have some recovery time,” Sally said, explaining they have to pass a drug test and complete a background check before entering the program. “We can tell pretty quickly if a man wants long-term recovery or not ... When a man comes in here, he is not judged but loved and supported. As soon as they come on this property, they know they’re safe and at home. When they come here, they can work out their stuff. There’s a nice brotherhood that happens here.”
The men in the program are required to be self-supporting and earn their own keep.
“As addicts and alcoholics, they are used to doing what they want to do. We want them to learn to be responsible for themselves,” noted Ed, explaining how when the men first come they typically work as day laborers hired out through Isaiah House before finding a job in the local community.
Additionally, the Jefferys seek to impart life skills to the men by offering in-house trainings on such topics as anger management, finances, relationships and how to keep from being offended.
They also discuss spiritual matters and seek to be an example by living out their faith on a daily basis.
“We realized a lot of people in recovery don’t succeed because they don’t know who God is,” observed Ed, a former addict who celebrates 26 years clean this month.
His wife agreed, saying, “We say when addicts come in here, they have a God-sized hole. They try to fill it with cars, drugs and alcohol.”
Sally went on to describe these sources of pleasure as a “temporary validation” which ultimately “doesn’t work.”
“Ultimately the mission is to love them into the kingdom of God,” she added.
Expanding the facility
The Isaiah House is currently in the middle of a building expansion project.
“We’re not putting this addition on the house to have more men here,” clarified Ed.
Instead, one of the nonprofit’s greatest needs is a commercial kitchen. Currently, the ministry feeds more than 20 people each day out of a kitchen designed for a single-family home. Since the small space cannot accommodate much storage, fridges, freezers and food are scattered throughout the house. Meals are cooked on a small, four-burner stove.
“We don’t have enough space,” noted Ed.
The new structure, which is currently under construction, also includes a full basement, a small apartment and space for holding public meetings, such as recovery groups.
Ed emphasized the nonprofit is not going into debt to pay for the addition but will complete the construction in phases as funds are available. Thanks to a grant and support from an area church, they have enough money to complete the first step of drying-in the new building.
The couple also expressed appreciation for the help of local businesses and contractors who are providing free or reduced-cost supplies and labor.
“It’s just been one God thing after another,” Ed said of the circumstances and donations that have kept the organization going since its inception more than eight years ago.
He went on to explain he has faith the funds for the latest project will be provided, as well as such equipment for the new kitchen as an icemaker, commercial dishwasher and commercial stove.
“God’s going to furnish the money. It’s his project. We’re just the ones down here working on it. I’m looking forward to seeing how he shows out,” said Ed.