Community-Friendly Sober Homes & Mansions
Most sober homes try their best to be community-friendly. But not every community is friendly to sober homes. Two new community-friendly sober homes and mansions are seeing a sea change to all that. And it is beautiful!
It’s also healthy and helpful. For everyone. See, sober homes can make good neighbors. In fact, they can often make great neighbors. If, that is, they’re responsible, conscientious and caring. And if they’re as serious about their neighbors as they are about sobriety. In other words, if the sober homes are truly community-friendly.
As these two sober homes found out, it also helps to be open and communicative with the community well before you open your doors. It’s respectful. It’s constructive. And it makes good common sense. Opening up lines of communication also goes far toward establishing solid relationships. And at the end of the day, that’s what a sober home is seeking anyway.
Here are two examples of the right way to do sober living.
The Lion House
Yep, this sober home has its own name. No, not a dba name. But an actual title. In fact, it’s just the kind of title that gets affixed to historical mansions. Then again, why wouldn’t it be? This 8 bedroom / 8 bath 1914 marvel certainly has more than enough history.
A bison-raising land developer named Thomas Frankson built the Lion House. And it’s fair to say he built the 120-window wonder in order to significantly enhance his own visibility. It’s also safe to say the home was built so he’d have some place grand from which to roar. See, after dropping a cool $17,000 on the Lion House, Frankson dropped another $30K on the Republican nomination for Minnesota Lieutenant Governor. He’d win the nomination of course. As you probably already suspect. Frankson also won the ensuing election. And he’d serve the folks of the 10,000 lake state from 1917-1921.
Such historical accommodations make for a superb sober home, believed partner-partners Tara Heald and Patrick Flanagan. Flanagan’s business partner Tom Rothstein agreed. So the three took the steps necessary to secure the place. Some $830,000 later the place was theirs.
Heald and Flanagan may have been completely convinced of the property’s sober possibilities, but the community wasn’t. Oh, people didn’t come out of the woodwork and start protesting in the streets, mind you. There were however more than a few side-eyed glances. Having an absentee landlord was among the neighbors’ chief concerns. That included the property falling into any kind of disrepair.
Flanagan understood completely. After all, Lion House was and is a treasured part of St. Paul’s Como Neighborhood. Flanagan wanted to assure the community that he too was a good-standing member. So he rolled up his plans and took them straight to the Como Community Council.
“I talked to them about sober housing and being an alcoholic myself, and you could just feel the tension in the room drop,” he told Pioneer Press reporter Frederick Melo. “We spent 20 to 30 minutes just talking about the bushes and landscaping.”
Como Community Council Executive Director Michael Kuchta confirmed as much.
“The hedges did come up,” Kuchta said. “This obviously is a very historic and prominent facility. I think people just needed to hear that information and get a fuller perspective on who the new neighbors were going to be. People are happy that the house is being kept up and fulfilling a larger mission. We’ve heard nothing but ‘Can we bring meals to them? Can we bring welcome packets?'”
In other words, the Como neighbors welcomed the new neighbors with the warmth they’d provide any new neighbors. And in October 2019 the St. Paul Women’s Recovery House was born.
The 14-bed sober home’s been fully operating ever since. In fact, there’s a long waiting list of women seeking to get what Recovery House provides. Then again, the exquisitely-appointed home not only fulfills all of sobriety’s many splendid promises, it grants some out-sized wishes as well.
So yes, you’ll find the same solid sober support provided by the best sober living facilities. And since Heald and Flanagan are both in recovery themselves (that’s actually where the two met), the home boasts all the customary sobriety-building considerations. For instance, clients are expected to attend three AA or NA meetings a week, plus retain a sponsor and work the 12 Steps.
Beyond that though are all the comforts one gets from exquisite home living. Oh, it’s not as if the Lion House is operated like some luxury resort. Quite the contrary. These women are generally either launching or continuing to succeed in serious professions. But there’d no denying that living in a stately manor situated between the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory and the Minnesota State Fairgrounds provides a considerable boost to one’s self-esteem.
“People are excited to live here,” says Flanagan.
We just bet.
Pond Grove Farm
Women also lie at the heart of Pond Grove Farm. Well, one woman anyway. Jamie McAndrews. Who’s learned a thing or three in her first four years of sobriety. Like for instance, how important it is for sobriety-seeking people to have a place like Pond Grove Farm. After all, that’s how she found true sobriety.
“Just knowing I had a place to lay my head at night, where I felt safe, and I was surrounded by other people in the same situation as me,” she told WNEP on-air reporter Elizabeth Worthington. “It was like a home away from home.”
Now McAndrews is providing a home away from home for others. A sober home away from home,
Pond Grove Farm is located in the town of Factoryville, Pennsylvania. Don’t let the name fool you though. Factoryville hasn’t had factory in a good long while. In fact, the town’s not even a town. It’s a borough. And its 1,154 some-odd residents live on less than one square mile of land.
Nevertheless, there’s a whole lot of wide open spaces. Pond Grove Farm itself boasts 76 acres. Certainly room enough to succeed in sobriety.
“People can have bonfires; there’s a pond in the back where the guys can go fishing; they can play softball,” said McAndrew.
In other words, the men can clear their head without any interference whatsoever.
If however a client would like some company, that’s there too. More importantly perhaps, that company consists of folks who are as eager to help as they are welcoming to the endeavor itself.
“So many people saying ‘congratulations,’ ‘we really need this,’ and I wasn’t expecting that,” says McAndrew. “I wasn’t expecting to have such positive feedback because a lot of people look at addiction as, you know, everybody wants to keep it a secret. But that’s not helping anybody.”
Indeed it isn’t. Now that the secret’s out, it’s great to see it so warmly embraced. The area’s recovery centers are equally excited to have a reputable place to send clients.
Sounds like a win-win for everybody!
Kudos to Community-Friendly Sober Homes
Healing Properties congratulates Pond Grove Farm and the St. Paul Women’s Recovery House for going where only the boldest have gone before. Indeed it takes some serious courage to step up to such an endeavor. That these folks have done so is a credit to them, as well as to their communities. Yes, communities. Because the respective Pennsylvania and Minnesota communities showed empathy, kindness and open-mindedness. And each deserves kudos accordingly. We know both Pond Grove and St. Paul Women’s set out to be community-friendly sober homes. We also know sober homes have not always been welcomed in every community. And we can’t wait till all communities show the same heart.
It’s happening however. In more and more communities across this great country of ours. That means, more and more Americans are now able to get the help they so desperately need. How about you? Are you one of those Americans? If so, please call someone. Whether it’s SAMHSA or Healing Properties or one of the above doesn’t matter. Just please call. There’s likely to be a community-friendly sober home right near you.
(Image / Shutterstock)