In six months, the city’s chief rehab program for homeless women battling addiction has quadrupled, going from 12 to 41 women, including one who brought her three children.
The Dove’s Nest on West Boulevard plans to grow bigger still in coming months, adding five women every four weeks. The new Dove’s Nest site, completed last year, has beds for 120.
Money remains an issue.
In the past year alone, the budget has increased by $800,000, with 15 additional staff members, officials say.
The Leon Levine Foundation has stepped in to help jump-start the fundraising effort by offering a matching grant aimed at bringing in $75,000 this month. The idea is to raise both money and awareness with the pledge to match up to $37,500 dollar for dollar.
“Here’s an example of an organization that can prove with its program that it is changing people’s lives every day,” said Tom Lawrence, executive director of the Leon Levine Foundation.
More than 60 percent of the women enrolled in the Dove’s Nest program end up graduating, and 80 percent of them are still sober a year later, agency officials said.
The expansion comes at a time that the Charlotte Rescue Mission, which operates the Dove’s Nest, is celebrating its 75th anniversary. (Hence, the $75,000 goal.)
Besides the Dove’s Nest, the Rescue Mission has a 140-bed rehab program for men on a campus near Bank of America Stadium.
Prior to the opening last summer of the new 45,500-square-foot Dove’s Nest building, the program operated since 1992 out of a renovated single-family home off East Boulevard.
That home was sold last month for $385,000, which will be put toward the $11.2 million capital campaign launched to build and operate the new Dove’s Nest. To date, all but $800,000 of the capital goal has been raised.
The project is considered groundbreaking in the state because it reserves 30 beds for children ages 5 to 11, so the city’s growing number of homeless families won’t have to be split during a mother’s addiction treatment.
Before the new site’s opening, women had a three-month waiting list to get into the program and weren’t allowed to bring their children. This led someone to avoid going through rehab out of fear they would lose their children to the Department of Social Services, said Tony Marciano, executive director of the Charlotte Rescue Mission.
Drug tests show 70 percent of the women making repeat visits to the community’s shelters are drug abusers, officials say.
“These women come to us after having burned all their bridges. Their only recourse before we started taking in children was to put their kids in foster care,” Marciano said.
“Many don’t want to do that, so they either stay at a shelter or stay in an abusive relationship, and she cycles in and out of sobriety. We’re changing the world their kids grow up in.”
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