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A home for the broken

GOOD SAMARITAN REHABILITATION: Northwest Hope Awards winner helps men and women overcome addiction in a family environment


Men work on their Bible studies during free time at Sunnyside House. Greg Lehman/Genesis

A home for the broken

Every Wednesday evening, about 70 men, women, and children gather for a potluck in Post Falls, Idaho, a small city between Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, and Spokane, Wash. On one such evening in March, granite countertops were laden with chili, pot roast, potatoes, green salad, mac-n-cheese, and brownies. The blend of conversation and laughter made it difficult to hear anyone well.

As the sun sank lower, the guests traipsed downstairs to a basement packed with mismatched furniture—white and brown plastic chairs interspersed with leather recliners—for worship. A few people stood in the back. A pile of shoes and work boots by the back door kept growing as more people arrived. Kids sat on top of a bunk bed. Two wooden pianos and one microphone were crammed in the front of the crowded room where the worship leader sang in a black sweatshirt and gold chain, arms covered in tattoos.

With hands raised, the group sang: “You’re holding me right in the palm of your hand. The storm might shake me but it doesn’t break me. I’ll stand.”

Most of the men and women in the room had an experience in common: They or someone in their family had graduated from Good Samaritan Rehabilitation, an addiction rehabilitation program in Coeur d’Alene. The prayer and worship night felt more like a giant family reunion than a church service. That’s what makes Good Samaritan different from many addiction rehab facilities. Men and women who join the program experience the loving accountability of a gospel-­centered family for the first time.

A resident named John tells his story to men at Bonnell House

A resident named John tells his story to men at Bonnell House Greg Lehman/Genesis

AT THE END OF 1982, Pastor Tim Remington and his wife, Cindy, helped plant a church in northern Idaho. The old mining communities of the Silver Valley—tucked away in the Bitterroot Mountains just east of Coeur d’Alene—were thick with drugs. The church met in an elementary school for 12 years. At first, the church sent men and women struggling with addiction—about 500 in total—to Calvary Ranch, an addiction rehabilitation program in San Diego, Calif. But people kept coming, and the Remingtons realized they needed to start their own program.

Good Samaritan centers on five principles: the gospel, purpose, identity, confidence, and positive attitude. Their doors are open for men and women struggling with many kinds of addiction, not just drugs. For some, its bulimia, alcohol, or pornography. For Remington, when he was young, it was alcohol. The tall, salt-and-pepper-bearded pastor in a gingham button-down and a black suit professed faith in Christ in a 1969 Dodge van in Redding, Calif.

At Good Samaritan, the gospel is the cornerstone. Before a client joined the program, Remington asked: Do you or do you not want Christ? “The only thing I have to give you is Jesus,” he would tell them. Now, other people do the intakes, but the goal is the same: to make it clear that while residents will receive many tools to wage war against addiction, true victory is found in Jesus Christ.

“But you can’t just rehabilitate a person, send them out into the world again, and say, ‘You’re rehabilitated now that you have Christ,’” Remington said, “Yes, they can still do all things through Christ who strengthens them … but they still don’t know how to live it yet. Because they have had no examples.” Many addicts come from divorced or dysfunctional homes.

The Remingtons decided part of the program would show them what a gospel-­centered home could look like. “So we put them back into the home,” he said, “and the home worked.” They started the women’s facility first, and Remington and his wife opened their own home to everyone who graduated. The graduates stayed with them and their kids.

Once residents are grounded in the gospel, Good Samaritan focuses on helping them discover the gifts God has given them and putting them to use in the community. The women spend about four months in rehab and their last 30 days in a mentor home. The men spend two months in rehab. For six months after they graduate, residents complete an Intensive Outpatient Program. They meet with staff on Monday and Wednesday nights and Sunday mornings and must be employed. Men are assigned one-on-one counselors who help them build community. Good Samaritan helps residents find employment by connecting them with employers who could use their skill set—but only if they’re willing to work.

Adella Fellows

Adella Fellows Greg Lehman/Genesis

WHEN ADELLA FELLOWS arrived at Good Samaritan, she weighed 90 pounds—skin and bones. Methamphetamine had stolen her appetite. She hid sores on her stomach and legs under a dark gray knitted sweater. Fellows started stealing alcohol from her alcoholic parents when she was 12. At 14, she was introduced to meth: “That became my best friend until I was 32,” she said. She had her first daughter at 15.

Four abortions and three children later, her life continued to spiral downward. About 10 years ago, Fellows got into a fight with her brother. The police threatened to take her to Kootenai Behavioral Health, another addiction recovery service in Coeur d’Alene. Fellows had already tried that. Instead, the man she was living with called Pastor Remington. He came within the hour. Remington gently asked her about her story and introduced her to his wife, Cindy. That night, they took her to a Bible study at their home. People sat on the kitchen countertops and the stairways. Somehow, Fellows found a seat. An older woman who was a Good Samaritan graduate laid her hand on her knee and told her, “Welcome.” When the Bible study concluded, Fellows walked over to the women’s facility, Blue Creek House.

For two weeks, Fellows alternated between napping and sitting on the cold bathroom floor as her body detoxed. She remembers the grime floating in the water after she took her first bath. When she finished the bath, the women laid hands on her and prayed. Fellows cried out to the Lord.

The women followed a routine—got up at 6, ate breakfast, exercised, read their Proverbs devotional, worked on their Bible lesson, and did classes and chores—something Fellows had lost when the meth kept her awake for days on end. Through the opportunities to delve into Scripture, Fellows heard and accepted the gospel.

Fellows stayed at Blue Creek for three months and lived at a mentor home with Remington and his family for three weeks. She met her husband through the program, and they moved into a home. Fellows got involved with a ministry for children and helped out at Good Samaritan. Now, she works as a secretary at The Altar, Remington’s church.

Blue Creek House

Blue Creek House Greg Lehman/Genesis

NOW GOOD SAMARITAN has three homes: The women’s Blue Creek House and the men’s Sunnyside House and Bonnell House. At the rehab homes, residents and staff function as a family. The homes are cozy and orderly, set apart from the distractions of the city in the lush forest that surrounds the many lakes within driving distance of Coeur d’Alene. The scenery is strategic: Men and women struggling against the chaos of addiction wake up to soft bird calls and towering pines. An inviting porch with wooden railings makes Sunnyside House feel like a cabin.

For men and women who were once homeless or couch surfers, a well-kept home is key. Residents cook their own meals. A staff member supervises each house to ensure residents make their beds and follow the rules. At Sunnyside, men sleep in bunks downstairs. Outside, four smooth logs and a blue wooden bench surround a makeshift fire pit.

On the Wednesday evening in March, ambient music played as men talked and laughed in the kitchen at Bonnell House, a quick walk from Sunnyside House. The men seasoned garlic bread and chopped tomatoes for lunch. Large pine trees shaded the house, and a stack of firewood leaned against the wall by the door. Two thin wooden beams form a cross outside between two trees. A display of wooden stumps and blocks—the remnants of chopping firewood for elderly neighbors—bears the signatures of all of the men who have lived at the house.

Jason Jasinski is the administrator for Bonnell House. He ensures the men meet probation requirements and attend court dates. He calls their families and checks to see all their basic needs are filled. Jasinski, 46, also enforces house rules. Residents follow a “three strikes, you’re out” policy. Using drugs, sleeping around, or dishonesty results in one strike. If a resident gives someone drugs, he must leave immediately. After 30 days, clients can try again.

Jasinski went through the program eight years ago. His parents were drug addicts. He started selling drugs for his uncle at 14: “All I knew was either you were a drug addict or a drug dealer.” At 18, he started using. Soon he was addicted to methamphetamine. He moved to northern Idaho to escape, but eventually went back to the only life he knew.

When he walked into The Altar for the first time, he felt the love of God. “The love of Christ was there, and I’d never had it before,” he said. He told his old friends to come to The Altar if they wanted to see him. Many of them have now gone through Good Samaritan.

“Now I get to be a part of those people’s lives that I used to help ruin,” he said.

The schedule is rigorous. Both men and women are expected to show up to meals and classes on time. Every morning, they read a passage from Proverbs and ask the men to share a life application. “It’s beautiful when you can see their hearts start to have an understanding for the Word of God,” Jasinski said.

For the first 30 days, residents watch assigned Bible videos. For the second 30 days, they can choose a Bible study topic. In the afternoons, they attend more classes that include Moral Reconation Therapy (understanding how their decisions have impacted others) and Cognitive Self-Change. Staffers don’t leave their Christian worldview at the door. They talk about Christ’s forgiveness.

Tim and Cindy Remington with their grandchildren.

Tim and Cindy Remington with their grandchildren. Greg Lehman/Genesis

MORE PEOPLE KEEP COMING. Good Samaritan is now booked four to five months out and has to squeeze in emergency cases wherever it can. Each year, about 120-140 people graduate. Almost 3,800 people have graduated since the program began. But expanding the program could risk sacrificing the family environment the residents need.

In 2013, John Padula started Set Apart, a place for men to stay while they are waiting to get into Good Samaritan. Some men don’t have money for the program ($3,000, but the group will sponsor people who cannot afford it) and need a place to detox. Padula and his wife bought a house and started taking people in. Men who have graduated from Good Samaritan each take a day of the week to mentor the men who are detoxing. “A lot of programs focus on building life skills, and the spiritual stuff usually takes a back seat,” said Padula. At Set Apart and Good Samaritan, men and women focus on their relationship with God.

Fourteen men live with Padula, his wife, and his 10-, 9-, 6-, and 5-year-old children. Twelve men live in another house. It’s strange when the house isn’t bustling with activity. The Padulas have hosted men for the past 10 years with only a three-day break after they moved into their current house and needed to finish the basement.

Helping men and women transition to the real world is also a challenge. Living in an Intensive Outpatient Home is only the first step. Men and women need to get plugged into a gospel-centered community that can become their family for the long haul.

So every Wednesday night, the Padulas host a potluck and worship night.

With a multitude of ranges, pitches, and harmonies, the group of men, women, and children who had crowded into the Padulas’ basement continued to sing: “Take a moment to remember who God is and who I am. There you go, lifting my load again. No longer am I held by the yoke of this world. Come up under the yoke of Jesus, His yoke is easy, His burden is so light.”

Moneybox

2020 revenue: $928,161
2020 expenses:
 $838,345
President’s salary:
$0
VP’s salary:
$53,853
Website: 
goodsamaritanrehab.com

—Read about WORLD’s other 2022 Hope Awards winners in this issue.


Addie Offereins

Addie is a WORLD reporter who often writes about poverty-fighting and immigration. She is a graduate of Westmont College and the World Journalism Institute. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband Ben.

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