Programs at the Freedom Dream Center, providing assistance to drug offenders, were described at last week's meeting of the Monett Kiwanis Club.
Jared Jackson, who works as administrator for the center, was a drug offender himself in need of a support group once he got out of jail. In his search, he discovered the Freedom Dream Center in rural Aurora.
"There is life after meth," Jackson said.
Jackson had been on the road to recovery after being on drugs for 14 years. He started using meth at age 14 as a way to deal with depression. Jackson started a growing Bible study in jail, prompted by inspirational material brought to him by his mother.
The Freedom Dream Center is a year-long, faith-based program for men and women. Participants live on the grounds in separate dormitories for men and women. The program provides structure, something addicts don't have.
Participants have regularly scheduled meals, basic chores and classes in subjects such as managing anger, money and families. There is required weekly homework.
Jackson said. The curriculum lasts for 48 weeks. Participants spend the last four weeks of the year hunting for a job, where success is almost 100 percent.
Participants are urged to get involved with community building activities. Jackson said this is a major shift in thinking for addicts, who are generally very selfish people.
The center has an Adopt-A-Block section of land to maintain. Individuals find service projects to do on Thursdays, such as yard work and painting. One man found so much encouragement from the ladies he helps that he can hardly wait to go back to his service projects, Jackson said.
The program has a 75 percent success rate for those who complete the curriculum and stay off drugs. Only about 6 percent of people trying to kick addictions succeed without a program. Jackson said about half of those who leave do so in the first six months.
Those who are not ready to leave the program after a year can stay longer. The cost is $200 a month, which includes food, boarding expenses and classes. Addicts spend around $420 a month for meth or $200 a month for marijuana. Addiction to a pain killer like oxycontin can cost up to $1,000 a month.
When he started as administrator, Jackson said the cost was $400 a month. He reduced costs with a side business of raising and training German shepherd dogs, which he sells for $700 each.
The Freedom Dream Center receives support from the Freedom Christian Center, located next door. Jackson spends time speaking at other churches to seek additional support.
Presently 22 men are enrolled in the program and 11 women. The oldest person presently participating is age 57.
Some who come into the program have no money. The center's staff works with the participants to help them raise money to cover the costs. The center works with county drug courts and enforces a three-strike rule for those who have difficulty holding to the rules.
Because the program helps people, Jackson said his job is the most rewarding work he has ever done.
Jackson was introduced by Kiwanis president Eric Kean, who presided at the meeting.
The Monett Kiwanis Club meets at noon on Tuesdays for a meal and a program, usually at Happy House restaurant.