Kim Hogue of Maumelle said that for the past 20 years, she has been thinking and praying about opening a residential recovery center for women, and she decided it was time to act.
Hogue plans to open Elim House in central Arkansas and held two informational meetings on the topic last month in Conway.
“It’s an easy sell; people know there’s a need,” she said. “There is a population of women struggling with addiction and heading to prison.”
Hogue is director of mission services for Goodwill Industries and works with men and women who are coming out of prison to help them re-enter the workforce.
She said she was living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, and participating in a Bible study when the inspiration hit.
“I was reading about Elim in the Bible, and God told me I would have an Elim that would be for restoration and healing,” she said.
Elim was one of the places the Israelites camped after their exodus from Egypt.
“Over 1,000 women are released each year from Arkansas prisons; most [of the women] have drug issues,” Hogue said. “There are only a handful of faith-based recovery centers for women. Even at that, those places have very few beds, so it’s just a huge need that was on my heart, so I decided to get up and do something about it.”
Hogue said she has incorporated Elim House, has a board of directors and is working toward getting a nonprofit designation for the project.
“I have a family full of addiction, like I think many people do,” she said. “I have ones who have passed away because of it, ones who are in prison because of it.”
Her daughter, Kailey Wood of Greenbrier, is working with Hogue on Elim House.
Wood, marketing communications and graphics specialist at Awakening Events in Conway, said she volunteered for Renewal Ranch, a 12-month Christian program for men struggling with addiction. Wood said her experience at Renewal Ranch made her realize how much a similar facility is needed for women, and her mother asked for her help.
“I’ve always had a heart for people, and it’s always been my dream to really work for a purposeful ministry that’s helping others,” Wood said.
Hogue said she was on the Renewal Ranch Board of Directors and received support and encouragement to open Elim House.
She said the informational meetings in Conway were to “cast the vision, telling people what was on my heart, what I felt like God was leading me to do.”
About 65 people attended the meetings, she said, and “people were super-receptive.” One person offered to build bunk beds for the facility.
Her vision — there is no site picked out or funding source yet — is to have a residential facility in central Arkansas where women live for free and undergo mentoring, study a curriculum and learn life skills.
“They don’t have to come out of prison. … It’s mainly if you have an addiction, if you’re struggling with some areas,” Hogue said.
“It is residential, but they have to be completely drug-free to come into the program,” she said. The first phase would be six months with an option to stay another six months.
“It’s about relationships, and you can’t rush relationships,” she said. “Phase 2 would be to help them gain more independence and prepare more to be out on their own.
“We want to focus on not just recovery and counseling and those issues, but we’ve got to prepare them for life skills,” which include helping the women learn how to manage finances and get a job, she said.
“We’re kind of at a crossroads right now. I have a lot of materials; I’ve got the curriculum, program design, statement of faith, … a lot of people supporting it,” Hogue said. “The next step would be to find a facility. I’m going to do it wherever the Lord hands me a facility.”
Although Hogue said she intends to start the facility in central Arkansas, “I’m not tied to a certain area,” she said.
The facility will determine the next step, she said, whether the location has a director who lives on the property or a “house mom.”
Another meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Feb. 21 at Immanuel Baptist Church, 501 N. Shackleford Road in Little Rock. More information is available by calling Hogue at (501) 539-3451 or emailing her at email@example.com.
“The next meeting is a brainstorming meeting to talk about fundraising events, getting decorations, getting ready to prepare the house. We know the supplies we need, no matter what type of house we get,” she said.
Hogue said she wants to gauge participants’ interest, “see where their passions lie and where they can plug in.”
She said she is working to set up a GoFundMe account for Elim House, and she is looking for grants.
After the initial facility for women is established, Hogue said, she would like to add an outreach for children, which she said her daughter would oversee.
“After we get everything up and running, … the next thing would be to address children, because women are the primary caregivers. That’s one of the biggest issues that’s a barrier when women go into prison.” The children often have to stay with grandparents or other relatives.
Hogue said she has a degree in child development and spent five years working with youth, primarily young girls, as director of Abstinence by Choice.
“What I’ve come to realize, what I’ve learned is that it’s not really about addiction; that’s just the symptom. It’s what comes to the surface — relationships, usually, life events and situations that have caused pain and hurt or shame and things like that that have caused addiction. We want to focus on healing people’s hearts,” she said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or firstname.lastname@example.org.