After being closed for five months due to a fire, the Surrender House in Denison will be reopening. The new house, which suffered water and smoke damage following a Dec. 3, 2018 fire, is located at 521 Morgan Street and on June 15 an open house will serve as the house’s reintroduction to Denison residents.
The house is a place for men who are struggling with addiction to get on their feet. The nonprofit began operations in 2003 with a location along the same street as the current location.
“We have helped hundreds of guys,” Board Chairman Charles Phelps said of the house he believe provides a valuable service to the community. “Alcoholism is a fatal disease. The recovery rate is not good. The house is known as a resource for the people in the community. The courts, clergy and police know about us and send us referrals. We have (the men) attend meetings once a day. They are given a drug test and we help them find jobs with the goal to get them to economic independence. The goal is to get them into their own house to live a normal life.”
House Manager Tony Manus said it is like starting over for the house, and because of the water and smoke damage, most of the furniture was unusable. He said the nonprofit relies on donations to operate, and the biggest need right now is linens, furniture and toiletries as well as some air conditioning units.
“We are a low cost, sober living facility,” Manus said. “It is for men who are serious about their recovery. If they stay off the drugs and alcohol, we give them a chance to have a home base to start rebuilding their lives. We charge $80 a week. Some of our guys are not employed. They do need to find employment right away. Since we are a non profit we don’t make a dime off it. We rely on volunteers.”
Manus said the men are asked to commit to a year long stay. He said they are given strict rules including a curfew and must attend mandatory meetings or detox programs. The meetings are based on Alcoholics Anonymous, and Manus said if they do it correctly, the men’s chances of success increase. The house has 10 beds among its five rooms and can accommodate up to 10 men.
The house does not keep a lot of food on hand because the men are expected to purchase their own food, Manus said. The purpose, he said, is to help them become independent and financially stable.
Manus also said after the fire, the men who had been staying found other places to stay and those who are still in need do have the option to return. He is expecting to begin taking applications again as soon as the city issues the occupancy permits. The application process involves a drug and alcohol test and background check in some cases.
“We are not providing a short term solution,” Manus said. “They can’t come in for a week or two. They need to be committed. We’ve been doing this since 2003. We would like to keep going. We have had some success when it comes to that. When it comes to addiction it is almost like fighting a losing battle. Every once in a while people can turn it around. They can go on living their lives without drugs and alcohol as a part of that.”
Richard A. Todd is the Denison area reporter. He can be reached at RTodd@HeraldDemocrat.com.