BURLEY — Women released from jail have a safe place to stay as they transition to a productive life now that a Paul couple has opened a new transitional living home.
Marcy and Dallas Bruderer purchased a three-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Burley and launched a program called Mini-Cassia Transitional Living. “The Lighthouse” opened in June and already has five of six available beds occupied.
“For me, living in this house means I have a safe place to come home to,” said Michele Savage, a 37-year-old recovering methamphetamine addict. “That’s not something that I’ve always had.”
Savage has dealt with addiction most of her life and was jailed after violating probation on a drug charge. She has lived at the house since August.
“I had no hope and nowhere to go,” she said. “They welcomed me here with open arms and with no judgment.”
The Bruderers have performed Christian ministry to women in Mini-Cassia jails for 17 years and are Idaho Department of Correction mentors. The house is a natural extension of their work.
“This is the first house of its kind in the area,” Marcy Bruderer said. Prior to the home’s opening, women in need of transitional housing had to go to Twin Falls or Boise.
The women pay a $275 monthly transition fee, supply their own food and have full-time jobs, besides doing assigned chores at the home. They are required to pass random alcohol and drug tests.
So far, the need for this type of housing has exceeded the available space.
“I’m getting calls every day,” Marcy Bruderer said.
The house has been approved by the Idaho Department of Correction and will receive certification through BPA Health, a substance-use treatment contractor for the state.
The women commit to six months of transitional living and follow the program “Courage to Change.” In the Christian-based program, they attend mandatory classes, which include the 12-step program and sessions on how to budget, make good decisions, parent, control anger and stress, and how to be accountable.
A house manager lives on site and Marcy Bruderer constantly monitors the program.
Many women want to change but they don’t know how, she said. “We’re giving them one more chance to learn how to do it right.”
Learning how to be self-sufficient is a crucial element. Some lessons are best taught through serving the community.
“It teaches them to reach outside themselves and give back,” she said. As a community service project, the residents will host a soup dinner next month at The Springs Calvary Chapel in Heyburn. All the proceeds will be donated to the Mini-Cassia Christmas Council.
Many people in the community know about addiction, she said, but they don’t know about recovery.
“Addiction is ugly but recovery is beautiful,” she said.
The house gives the women the opportunity to experience normalcy, she said, which most of them have never experienced.
“My goal is to keep things very calm in this house because these women need that,” Marcy Bruderer said.
There is also a women’s clothing closet at the house, which provides variously sized clothing that the women can use for job interviews, and some personal hygiene items.
The Light House accepts donations of clothing and other items such as toiletries and cleaning supplies; the program is also looking for women to serve as mentors.
“I love living here in this house and I love my roommates,” Savage said. “I feel like it’s really increasing my self-confidence.”
Savage said if she had not found a home at The Lighthouse, she would have gone back to the life she was living before.
“My past is not going to define me anymore,” she said. “I know I’ll always be an addict but now there is hope for the future.”