By Darronté Matthews
BLOOMINGTON – A Bloomington program is helping restore hope for struggling men in the community.
House of Hope is a program and safe home aimed at stopping recidivism by providing housing and support programs for men who were incarcerated and/or battling drug addiction.
In February, the program secured an actual house, a duplex, for its men to live while they focus on transitioning back into the community.
Eddie Perkins, pastor at Seeds of Hope Outreach Ministry, said the program is based on men wanting to change.
“The one thing we can’t give them is the want,” Perkins said. “So if they want to change, we’ll come along side of them and help them become who God has called them to be.”
Steven Carls has lived in the home for three months and said so far the experience has changed his life.
“This place means the world to me,” Carls said. “It’s a place to go that feels like home.”
Carls said he’s grateful the program came into life after years battling drug addiction and incarceration. He said the home, with the other men living there, feels like a family and calls the sobering experience a divine one.
“I’ve been a drug addict going on 15 years being in and out of prison and just burned a lot of bridges,” Carls said. “I feel that God has placed me here. I feel blessed.”
The program is a part of Pastor Perkins’ Seed of Hope Men’s Outreach program, which started 8 years ago.
“We got tired of seeing these men going in and out of prison and they didn’t have another avenue,” Perkins said. “They would go in at 19 and you’d see them again at 22.”
He said God delivered and set him free from addiction and he wanted to give other men the same opportunity.
“So God gave me this men’s outreach to help these give men another opportunity to have a different avenue they could go besides going in and out of prison,” Perkins said.
Perkins said House of Hope is not a babysitting facility for grown men, but support in the right direction. He said men are provided with assistance with mental health, drug/alcohol abuse, time management, anger management, accountability and responsibility, employment and parenting skills.
“We want to work with these men and help them be in their rightful position so they can help their families,” Perkins said. “Help their communities, help themselves go forward and be authentic men of God.”
Perkins said the home is designed for men to stay for nine months up to one year while working on improving themselves.
Carls said he feels blessed the program has not only kept him sober, but helped him repair relationships with his family and his religion.
“This place helped me find God and faith and I think that’s the foundation,” Carls said.
Illinois Prairie Community Foundation serves as fiscal sponsor for House of Hope. If you would like to support this effort to stop recidivism, please donate online. If you prefer to make a donation in another manner, click here for information.