Neighbors of planned Providence House have mixed reaction By Brooke Shepherd Rise Up Recovery is a nonprofit organization that has many resources to aid those who are overcoming substance use …
Neighbors of planned Providence House have mixed reaction
By Brooke Shepherd
Rise Up Recovery is a nonprofit organization that has many resources to aid those who are overcoming substance use disorders. The founders are opening a new location, called Providence House, in Hastings, Minn.
Providence House, located at 303 E. Fifth St., will offer pretreatment and posttreatment options for up to ten men. Tiffany Neuharth is the executive director. She said this facility is unique because it will be one of only three in the state to offer the pretreatment option. The other two facilities are in Rochester and Mankato, meaning there are no resources near the Twin Cities. The idea for Providence House was born in January 2021.
“It started as an idea where people can come because maybe they’re in crisis within their recovery, or they just needed a safe place to land for a short amount of time, maybe up to ten days,” said Neuharth. “We see that so often, it’s one of the huge gaps that exist right now in the substance use disorder recovery continuum.”
Providence House will have peer-led support groups. There will be two live in-house managers as well as two staff members present during the day. Neuharth is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, and she will also be heavily involved at the house day to day with overseeing operations.
Neuharth founded the organization with her husband Chad. They live in Hastings and are both in long-term recovery themselves.
“From my own experience and also working at a local treatment center, I was seeing firsthand people doing well in a treatment center and then people would be discharged, go to a sober house, and within a week or two they were relapsing,” said Neuharth. “People need someone to come alongside them and help them take the knowledge they learned in treatment and apply it to everyday life.”
Neuharth said the Rise Up Recovery mission is to help anybody who’s seeking recovery and to get them connected with resources. Although there is a spiritual component to Rise Up Recovery, Neuharth said that they don’t push anyone to follow a religion and use it more to help foster healing and relationship building.
“It’s said often but the opposite of addiction is really about connection,” said Neuharth. “We believe that when people develop deep
meaningful connections with God first and foremost, and then with themselves, and then with their community and their families and friends, all of a sudden, the appeal to go into addiction, which is an isolative thing, the desire and the hooks will dissipate.”
Jeremiah Fairbanks is a family and addiction medicine physician in Hastings who is also a member on the board of Rise Up Recovery. Fairbanks said he provided a medical perspective, and that the model for Providence House is a comprehensive way to look at recovery. He said the typical process of recovery is fragmented, and after a person moves to the next step, there is no one from the previous step checking on them. At Providence House, there is peer support throughout the entire recovery process. “The peer recovery model is person-centered not location- centered,” said Fairbanks.
Fairbanks said the pretreatment option is innovative, since the window to get someone into recovery is usually small. He said often in the timespan people spend waiting to get into a treatment program, they end up relapsing because they’re in their home environment.
“All the forces have to align to make them at the point where they can be vulnerable and want to enter recovery,” said Fairbanks. “We know from data and personal experience that the longer you wait to get into a treatment program, the less likely it is that it’s actually going to happen because cravings are so significant and compulsive.”
Fairbanks said he has started a few programs for substance use disorders, and one thing that’s consistent is how many people want help. He doesn’t necessarily see Hastings as significantly worse off in terms of substance use disorders than the surrounding communities, but he said the need is everywhere. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, over 100,000 people died from drug overdose in the U.S. last year, which is up over 28% from the year prior.
“We hope to be that go-to place where anybody in our community can come and seek resources, help and support,” said Co-Founder Chad Neuharth.
Terri Whipple is a homeowner across the street from Providence House. She said her neighborhood has been changing fast and used to be more peaceful.
“They are putting stuff all over this neighborhood. There are now apartment buildings and government buildings, it’s all being piled right here, so I’m definitely against more,” said Whipple. “We can’t even paint our foundation without getting permission from the Historical Society.”
Emily Mellingen is living next door to the Providence House. Mellingen supported the mission but is concerned about some of the details. She wrote a letter to City Council and felt that her concerns were not fully validated. One of her main concerns is that Providence House is not an accredited agency.
“I think accreditation by regulatory bodies is really important and that’s what family members should be looking at when they’re choosing a treatment facility or sober living. So, they have that regulatory oversight instead of just the state,” said Mellingen.
Mellingen also said that there may be an increase in police calls, and she is unsure if there are enough staff members for Providence House.
“It is concerning because the case load is going to be incredibly high, I know ten people doesn’t sound like a lot but those are people who have a lot of needs,” said Mellingen.
Bridgette Norring lives down the street from Providence House. In April 2020, her 19-year-old son Devin died from an accidental overdose. Norring said she is in support of the mission behind Providence House. “As a parent, had he survived, where would we go? Who would we turn to? With Tiffany now coming into Hastings, we’re seeing her stuff come up in the media or online. It’s there. We don’t see or hear much from the other ones in the area.”
Norring said she has hope that with the increased visibility, it will help to lessen some of the stigma around addiction.
“I hope we save some lives here,” said Norring. “We have so many kids that are in jeopardy and it’s so heartbreaking.”
According to Neuharth, there are a lot of stigmas around substance use disorders. She said people become almost criminalized for something that is considered an illness, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The manual defined it as patterns of symptoms caused by using a substance that an individual continues taking despite its negative effects.
“Our aim is to really help educate our community so that they can have proper perspective and learn how to be inclusive and love individuals who are recovering,” said Neuharth. “We wouldn’t ostracize someone who’s going through cancer treatment and is in recovery, but we do that with people who have substance use disorders. We want to humanize this experience.”
Neuharth has officially taken ownership of Providence House and is now starting the journey of getting it up to residential and some commercial codes. This will include things like electrical work, installing a sprinkler system, handicap access, and other updates as well. The date that the house will be fully operational is unknown at this time, but it will take at least three months of work.
As for the neighborhood concern, Neuharth said: “We have lived experience with this, we’ve been through the system before. I’ve personally been in some good programs and some really bad programs. I completely understand our neighbor’s apprehension. I get it. All we can do is under promise and overdeliver. Our goal is to completely overdeliver.”