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ARCs put Jesus first, help beneficiaries back to wholeness

By Brooke Turbyfill

Southern Spirit staff


The Southern Territory's 23 Adult Rehabilitation Centers vary in staffing, size and scope of programming depending on their financial base. However, all centers share a driving motivation: leading men to wholeness through Biblical principles.

Each ARC uses the same acceptance criteria for men in need of rehabilitation. While an estimated 85 to 90 percent of beneficiaries receive help for alcohol and substance abuse problems, there are also beneficiaries seeking stability after divorce, unemployment or other life crises. The profile of a beneficiary has changed with the times. Where the typical beneficiary entering an ARC 20 years ago was 42 years of age and a skilled worker when abstaining from alcohol and substance abuse, the profiles are different today. Now, the typical beneficiary is between 25 and 30 years old, poly-addicted and in need of job skills and education.

Each center, built upon a basic program, works with individuals to create a rehabilitation plan that restores them to their best possible level of functioning. The basic program requires beneficiaries to attend individual counseling, group counseling, work therapy, health assessment and spiritual enrichment. A levels-based program, the rehabilitation journey allows beneficiaries to attend retreats, gain outside employment, participate in leisure activities and further their education as they progress through the steps.

The basic program is not less than 180 days. The recent changes, said ARC Commander Major Larry White, give staff more time to work with beneficiaries. While some beneficiaries stay longer and later choose to reside in one of seven of the South's transitional housing locations, most men average between three and 12 months. Many centers have strong alumni programs, and a growing number of ARCs are ministering to families through special events. (See related article) All ARCs are self-supported primarily through the sale of goods donated to family stores, but also through the sale of donated textiles and automobiles. Beneficiaries, as their work therapy component, take part in refurbishing donations so they're in good condition to sell.

Beneficiaries not only gain work and social skills that help them become stable contributors to society, but they also gain self-respect and spiritual growth - the keys to why the ARC program is so successful, said White. "The thing that separates the ARC from some other rehabilitation programs is the spiritual component. That's who we are first. Our first objective is to introduce the men to a saving relationship with Jesus Christ."


Photo, right: Major Larry White,

Adult Rehabilitation Centers Commander 

Former NFL player speaks to ARC delegates at Southern Bible Conference

By Brooke Redwine

Southern Spirit staff

ARC night of the 55th annual Southern Bible Conference was Thursday as usual; however, the program was anything but typical. The more than 260 men and staff from the territorial Adult Rehabilitation Centers who attended, were treated to an insightful message from former NFL player for the Cleveland Browns, Oscar Roan. Currently a minister, Roan's messages tend to focus on two sacrificial words that relate to the cross: surrender and commitment. This Thursday night was no different.

After several men in the ARC shared their testimonies and Roan's wife, Linda, performed special music, Roan spoke from Genesis 37-40 about Joseph's imprisonment. He emphasized that Joseph's dream became a nightmare - until he surrendered it to God. Although it took 13 years after Joseph first had the dream for him to let the Lord take control, Joseph's commitment was rewarded: He was awakened from his nightmare; the Lord fulfilled Joseph's dream; and his family was restored.

Roan painted the analogy for the men from the ARC - "Allow the Spirit of the Lord to come into your dungeon and wake you up from your nightmare," he advised. The men listened attentively, all of whom had worked hard to get there. To attend the SBC is a privilege for program participants, and they must meet certain standards in order to go.

While the week included leisure activities such as a golf tournament and cookout, plus allowing time for visits to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, the highlight for many of the ARC delegates was each morning's forthright, gospel-rooted message delivered by Roan in Lake Junaluska's Stuart Auditorium chapel meetings.

Photo, above: Oscar Roan, former NFL player for the Cleveland Browns, provided inspirational messages for the ARC delegates at the Southern Bible Conference.

New therapy provides hope for married recovering addicts

It is common for recovering married people to encounter combative marital relations that jeopardize their sobriety. These persons in treatment cannot afford to ignore this inevitable scenario; there are resources to assist them with coping interventions that can rebuild strained marriage relations. With the right skills, recovering addicts and their spouses can learn how to listen more empathetically. That's how Behavior Couples Therapy assists the married addict and his spouse in regaining productive communication.

BCT, the practice of one spouse supporting his substance-abusing spouse to remain abstinent, is a promising treatment that has been underutilized by the substance treatment community and rarely considered for use within treatment centers for fear of interruption of the rehabilitative process. But as I conducted BCT trials for my graduate research project, I discovered that this model of therapy could be integrated successfully into existing programs at The Salvation Army Harbor Light in Washington, D.C.

The project's rationale is threefold: (1) to involve the spouse as an essential light in the behavioral change process, (2) to identify specific relationship issues, and (3) to provide basic tools to improve relationship function and address marital discord. The primary goal of this model is to offer the substance abuser and their non-chemically dependent spouse the opportunity to engage in interventions that motivate the recovering partner toward sobriety. This prototype introduces tools to regain love and respect in marriage.

Assessment tools that have been completed by participants in BCT show that there is great promise for success in using this type of therapy. When asked the benefits of BCT, one spouse participant commented, "My wife's awareness is good. It helps to be able to put it all together here so it is not all out of order when I get home." His wife added, "BCT has been really, really good. I just don't want it to interfere with my husband's treatment." To her concern, her husband responded quickly, "No, not at all."

The assessments revealed high levels of fondness and admiration among spouses. Trust issues were the greatest of concern among couples; however, both couples who completed the assessment indicated that poor communication would be the primary challenge to sustaining marital friendship in sobriety.

Another couple gave their feedback about BCT's helpfulness. The wife said it helped her to "hear where [her husband] is coming from. I can hear if he is sincere. I need to know where he is. This releases my mind from wondering." And her husband declared, "BCT is what I needed for release. It is nurturing, it is very good, with vivid questions for discussion. I felt very relaxed in dealing with the issues with my wife." Both couples expressed appreciation for the benefits of BCT and its healing impact on their marriage.

Major Wanda Browning

Staying together:

How Sunday strengthens family bonds

By Brooke Redwine

Southern Spirit staff

She came in just like the rest, looking for her loved one. It was Sunday, and not just that, but Family Sunday - a select few Sundays when ARCs open their grounds for an entire day's worth of family fun.

 Left: The Dallas ARC enjoys old-fashioned family fun.

She had come as any mother would, half of her hoping not to, the other half of her expecting to, see the frail, unkempt son she had last seen. Still, when the administrator pointed her in the direction of a vibrant young man, this mother could not believe her eyes.

The man who had once forfeited his joy to substance abuse was now a completely different individual, said Major Michael Waters, administrator of the Nashville, Tenn., center. After visiting with her son, the mother approached Waters with tears in her eyes and said, "If you had not pointed out my son to me, I would not have known him."

This kind of family reunification is what defines the word "rehabilitation" at the 23 ARCs across the South. It is why they work so hard to gather family members together with beneficiaries every Sunday for worship. And it's why, a few times a year, many of the ARCs host Family Sunday, where beneficiaries invite their families to worship, have lunch and enjoy fellowship, games and activities. Many administrators echoed the same response when asked about the vision behind these special Sundays. Major Charles Nowell, administrator of the St. Petersburg, Fla., center, said, "It's sort of like that old adage, ‘The family that prays together stays together.' A family that worships together gains support, and that helps the whole family."

Helping the whole family is easy when every Sunday is special, said Maj. Michael Vincent, ARC administrator in Dallas, Texas. He reasoned that the center's biannual Family Sunday is so popular because families of beneficiaries know they're welcome each week. On average the Sunday chapel services draw 200 people, and the last Family Sunday saw about 350 attend. When asked why so many valued the event, Vincent said, "It's probably because of the promotion [to beneficiaries] of inviting your family every Sunday. The families are just used to coming."

Photos, above, left and below: The Dallas ARC organizes a variety of activities for Family Sunday to encourage families to spend time together.

The Dallas ARC plans old-fashioned family fun twice a year; on July 3, 2006, they celebrated after worship with activities like inflatable waterslides, a dunking booth, life-size bowling pins with human bowling balls, a watermelon seed-spitting contest, a cakewalk, BINGO, door prizes, a gospel singing group and a barbecue. The center's fall festival was a big hit, too, with a three-legged race and homemade popcorn.

The Houston ARC zeroes in on special holidays, such as Mother's Day and Father's Day, to promote reconciliation. Maj. Betty Rawls, chaplain, said that while holidays allow the center to host extended worship, devotions, fellowship time and lunch, unity in the family is encouraged year-round. "Many of [the beneficiaries] - because of their addiction - have lost connection with their families. So just having a family member come in is special."

Most of the centers invite more than just the beneficiaries to the Family Sunday events. Alumni and employees also bring their families. Major Paul McFarland, administrator of the ARC in Washington, D.C., said they hope to reach beyond the bounds of the rehabilitation program. "It's not just about the family of the men. We encourage the employees to come and bring their families." Knowing that some of them are unchurched, said McFarland, he sees activities such as basketball, picnics and inflatable games as tools to draw people to the Lord.

Maj. Vincent, of Dallas, echoed McFarland's perspective. "You have a real good opportunity on that day to introduce a lot of people to the gospel."


Photos, above: The Houston ARC structures Family Day around holidays such as Mother's Day and Father's Day.

Memphis ARC launches alumni program

The Memphis ARC recently began an alumni program, and in July the ARC held its first Alumni Sunday, which enrolled 10 men as alumni. The criteria for enrollment is that the man must have successfully completed the program, obtained a job and moved out on his own. All men must gain staff approval for membership. Weekly alumni meetings are held, and members frequently attend Sunday chapel services.

Men in Northern Virginia bond over Bible discipleship

The Northern Virginia ARC has had great success with a Bible-reading class taught by Major Mary Madison. "Through the Bible in 90 Days" was launched in April, and its first session graduated 17 of the 20 men who originally enrolled. Six of the 17 graduates were recognized for their perfect attendance throughout the course. The second session, which began September 11, 2006, has an enrollment of 21.

As part of the class, the participants rise early to read through 12 pages of Scripture together each weekday morning. On the weekends, the men have to discipline themselves to read 12 pages a day on their own. Maj. Madison said that's had a positive influence on the men.

Photo, left: Graduates (L to R) stuck with their commitment to read the Bible in three months: front row, Jabar Conquest, Michael London, Renold Lighston, Anthony Bates, Julius Washington, Rodolfo Collado, Curtis Milton, Steve Golden, Joeseph Setlock, David Manthey and Daniel Hobson. Back row, Major Mary Madison, Rolan Carmichael, Michael Penta, Raymond Teneyck, Anthony Robinson, William Goins, Jerry Anderson and Maj. William Madison.

"They have a better knowledge of the Bible and a sense of accomplishment. Most of our men start something and never finish," she said, but this course has changed that. Aside from the bonding it's producing among the program participants, she said they've also benefited from the discipline of consistency and achieving a common goal. "The biggest thing is that they really feel they've accomplished something, and it wasn't easy."

Madison also recognized the success of the program when the men would hear a sermon on a previously-read Bible passage during a Sunday service. Often, she found that men would relate better to the teaching because they had already read the passage, and it gave them a stronger foundation in the Word.

The Northern Virginia ARC is committed to more than mere stabilization of the men in the program; clearly, spiritual rehabilitation is a top goal. Madison remarked on the success of the program going beyond giving the men a sense of pride - it also provides them with spiritual understanding. "It makes the Bible real for them."

ARC construction makes room for more

Future centers expand possibilities and programs

By Brooke Redwine

Southern Spirit staff

Depending on which ARC administrator you talk to, each center varies widely in the way it accomplishes its mission. While a common thread is rehabilitation and the levels-based program, what one center does may not work for another - largely dependent on each individual facility.

That's all changing, though, as the future holds expansion and renovation for some of the South's largest-populated cities. Both the Atlanta and Miami, Fla., centers are being renovated. The Atlanta upgrades are nearly 60 percent complete, and are expected to be finished in the spring of 2007. While the Miami renovations have yet to begin, they look similar to the refurbishment in Atlanta. Both centers will have extended warehouses and renovated residence buildings. With a combined cost of approximately $10 million, the renovations will mean helping more men gain back their dignity and self-respect. Besides having outgrown their current facilities, both the Miami and Atlanta ARCs were "in pretty bad shape," said Eric Eliasen, territorial property manager. Both of them needed extensive sprucing up, he said.

Some southern cities will get more than a makeover on an existing facility. Although both are pending approval by the Property Department, Eliasen said that property has been purchased for the construction of new centers in San Antonio, Texas, and in Memphis, Tenn. The goal is to build the two new centers from the yet to be approved plans for an ARC prototype.

The prototype has been in the planning stages for two years, and it is currently awaiting approval. As opposed to traditional two- to three-storey buildings, the new prototype is designed as a one-storey campus setting. That wasn't possible in the past, but now the ARC is buying larger lots of land than ever - with good reason.

Most centers would like to expand their programs to include more visitations with family and to create additional transitional housing, but space issues bring limitations. On the other hand, the San Antonio center would be sprawling with five separate buildings. One building would house the administrative offices and classrooms, dining room and day room. A second, the residence building, would allow for 125 men to live in 5-person dormitories. It would also include a laundry facility, lounge, library, prayer room and exercise facility.

A third building would be used to provide something that's needed throughout the territory: a transitional living facility. The San Antonio project aims to build 15 apartments to house clients who are rehabilitated and about to re-enter the community.

The fourth and fifth buildings on San Antonio's 22.36-acre lot include a 22,000-square-foot family store with 50,000 square feet of warehouse space, and a chapel to seat 250 people.

The proposed San Antonio and Memphis centers, if approved, would be the first new ARC constructions in 10 years. Funds for these buildings would come in the form of a THQ loan, which would be paid back by the Area Command.

Other expansions include new family stores such as one in Hoover, Ala., and in Horn Lake, Miss.

Houston ARC heals the whole man

By Brooke Redwine

Southern Spirit staff

The Houston ARC has rallied together several organizations in its commitment to serve all the needs of beneficiaries. The Healthcare for the Homeless Program, organized by the Program Department's Maria Valdez in cooperation with Marion Scott of the Harris County Hospital district, provides an on-site, full-time clinic where beneficiaries receive a primary healthcare evaluation and get help with depression, anxiety and social services. The clinic will soon be obtaining a class D pharmacy license, so a nurse practitioner can dispense medicine. The Houston ARC also has a mobile dental van, which offers free cleanings on the ARC campus three months out of the year.

The NAACP conducts HIV/AIDS education and testing, and the Harris County Hospital coordinates an on-site health fair.

The Houston ARC sees healthcare as only one aspect of a beneficiary's rehabilitation and renewal. Valdez said that the aim is to cover every basic topic with which the beneficiaries might need assistance - such as education, financial training and job skills. Houston Community College teaches GED and computer classes at the center. Job skills are taught, too, through forklift operator classes and waste/water management classes.

Local banks teach budgeting classes to beneficiaries transitioning back to the community. "It gives them an idea about responsibilities because a lot of them lose that focus," said Valdez. "It's to help them get a feel for being responsible, saving money and paying bills."

Photos, above: Healthcare programs and GED classes are just a few of the services that the Houston ARC provides.



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