The Harbor Home in Conway started with an idea Dana Davin-Ward had when she was teaching and ministering to women in prison.
“I kept seeing these beautiful, talented — some of them very educated — women in prison, most because of drugs. I thought, ‘What if we had a place that we could actually get them before they go to prison?’”
Fourteen women are now living at The Harbor Home, 18 Ranchette Road, a residential facility that offers a nine-month program for women with substance abuse issues. The home’s name reflects “the safe refuge from the storms of life” that it provides, Davin-Ward said.
The Harbor Home, Phase 1, is in the former Servant’s Chapel General Baptist Church, whose 13 members voted to repurpose the church building about two years ago for the women’s program.
The church was renamed The Harbor, and Davin-Ward’s husband, Larry, is pastor of the nondenominational congregation and CEO and president of Servant’s Ministries, the nonprofit organization that owns the property. A mobile home is utilized for Phase 2.
Davin-Ward has her own nonprofit ministry, Isaiah 30:18 Ministries, which raises money for The Harbor Home, buys materials and provides teachers.
A fundraiser dinner is scheduled for 5:30-9 p.m. April 22 at The Cowboy Church, 12 Arkansas 36. A tour of Harbor Home will be held from 4-5:15, prior to the smoked-pork dinner. Residents of Harbor Home will serve the meal, Davin-Ward said. The event will include a silent auction and a vocal performance by Freedom Express, made up of residents of Harbor Home and members of the church. The presentation will include liturgical dancing, singing and testimonies.
The theme is The Power of Change, and residents will give their testimonies.
Tickets are $25 and can be purchased by going to www.eventbrite.com and searching for Power of Change. Sponsorships are needed, as well, Davin-Ward said. For more information, call Mandi Tanner at (501) 503-6710 or email her or Davin-Ward at theharbor
firstname.lastname@example.org; or go to theharborministry.com or to The Power of Change Facebook page.
Debra Rigdon, a volunteer who is in charge of the fundraiser, said its purpose is to raise money for and awareness of the nonprofit.
Rigdon said that although she does not have a relative in the program, she has a son who is a Renewal Ranch success story, and she has seen how drugs affect families. Also, as a former Court Appointed Special
Advocate volunteer, she has seen children removed from homes because of drug addiction.
“I’ve seen a lot of destruction; it’s nice to know there is a women’s program,” Rigdon said.
Davin-Ward said The
Harbor Ministries, which includes the women’s program and the church, is definitely filling a need.
“There has not been a women’s facility in this area doing what we’re doing,” she said.
Davin-Ward said the first thing The Harbor Home employees do is find out the women’s legal issues, if they have any.
“It’s a huge process,” she said.
In Phase 1, the women aren’t allowed to work for the first six months, Davin-Ward said.
“We really work with them on healing the actual wounds that caused them to make their choices to begin with,” she said. “The way to stay clean is to find a purpose, find what you were created to do and give back.”
In Phase 2, up to six women live in a mobile home on the property — for approximately six months — and The Harbor Home staff helps them find jobs. One young woman from Pulaski County said she had gotten a job at a Conway restaurant and was moving into the mobile home last week.
“Some actually go ahead and move out earlier than six months,” Davin-Ward said. “We kind of individualize it.”
On a recent day, The Harbor Home was busy with women getting ready for the day. One woman was blow-drying her hair, while Mandi Tanner’s toddler-aged grandson sat on the vanity and playfully flipped the light off and on. Another young woman sat at a table as she put on makeup.
Two church classrooms have been converted into bedrooms for up to 10 women, and the fellowship hall is a family room and kitchen. The building also has a laundry room and a freezer, because Kroger donates 100 pounds of meat each month, and Harps donates produce that is near its expiration date.
“It’s incredible,” Davin-Ward said.
The women involved in the program now range in age from 19 to 50, but there has been a 60-year-old, who was an alcoholic, Davin-Ward said. Some of the women have been convicted of felonies, and some have been in jail in the past.
The women come from throughout Arkansas, and one is from Oklahoma, Davin-Ward said.
Gena Covington, 48, said she moved to Conway 1 1/2 years ago from Memphis, Tennessee. Her son, 30, is participating in Renewal Ranch in rural Faulkner
County, a 12-month faith-based program for men with addictions.
Covington said she had four children, and when she was in her 30s, her younger son died. Covington said she drank socially, but after the death of her son, she became an alcoholic.
Although she has been in The Harbor Home for only about three weeks, Covington said, she can tell it’s different.
“I’ve been through secular treatment, and we’ve never gotten to why I’m masking my pain,” she said. “I was welcomed by these ladies with open arms.”
Covington also praised Larry Pillow, a founding board member of Renewal Ranch, who teaches some of the classes at The Harbor Home.
“I get a little something every day,” she said.
Davin-Ward said her
husband doesn’t have a history of drug addiction, but the couple have many resources they draw from to teach and counsel the women. She uses a seven-week course she developed called “Change Your Mind, Change Your Life.”
Women also take budgeting and parenting classes.
One slogan the program uses is “God turns broken pieces into masterpieces,” Davin-Ward said. “We have a T-shirt that says that. He really does.”
Tanner, whom Davin-Ward describes as “my right arm,” was in prison for drug-related
charges before she came on board.
Angela Martinez, the program’s first graduate, and her 10-year-old son live on the property and help run the program, too.
The program director, Lauralise Hodges, is a former meth addict. Hodges, who lives with her two daughters and granddaughter near The Harbor Home, said she has been with the program for more than two years and helped Davin-Ward get it off the ground.
In general, women aren’t allowed to have their children live with them in The Harbor Home.
“We look at each situation; we’ve had circumstances where we’ve had to,” Davin-Ward said.
“Our next actual phase, we’re working on with community leaders in Faulkner County — we need a home when our girls graduate to phase into with their children,” she said.
She said 15 women have graduated from the program to date, and three more are scheduled to graduate soon.
Davin-Ward said the program’s success rate is high.
“All of our girls, that we know of, are drug-free and are doing well,” she said.
“Right now we’re in that stage of ‘OK, God, what’s next?’ The need is huge, and the only way these girls are going to succeed is if we stick with them,” she said.
Senior writer Tammy Keith can be reached at (501) 327-0370 or email@example.com.