DOVER — When Lawrence “Larry” Kane first volunteered for the board of Southeastern New Hampshire Services more than 20 years ago, he just wanted to help his community.
Now, Southeastern’s latest sober living home program will honor those two decades of dedication and service by bearing his name. Kane House’s stated mission is: “Hope. Recovery. Growth.”
Kane House, located in the historic Strafford County complex at 272 County Farm Road, is intended to provide a safe, stable, nurturing environment for men recovering from substance misuse.
“The Kane House means a great, great deal to me,” Kane said. “I first got involved because I firmly believe in the impact service work can have. It’s been very fulfilling to me. I hear many stories from clients who have struggled with addiction. One client that went through our Turning Point program recently said that Turning Point changed his life by giving him another chance at life. That’s our mission.”
The newly renovated wing of the building will house 12 to 14 “much needed” male sober house beds, Kane said. There are two men already living there, with more slated to arrive after they finish a 90-day program.
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Southeastern Executive Director Denise Elwart said the facility will offer residents the support and structure they need to maintain their early sobriety while fostering a sense of individual empowerment.
Elwart said recovery is a lifelong journey, but the first year is the most precarious. Southeastern’s website states studies have shown up to 85% of people new to recovery relapse within their first year. The Kane House is meant to help clients through that critical year, by creating a sense of community and camaraderie among men in varying stages of sobriety.
“Housing is a huge barrier,” Elwart said. “What frustrates me is when we would discharge someone after they graduated from our Turning Point program, and they go to a homeless shelter. That is clearly not a safe, stable environment for a recovering person. Without stability, their chances of being drawn back to that old lifestyle are greater.”
The transition to sobriety
Southeastern has been a provider of recovery treatment since 1979. Southeastern’s Turning Point is a 90-day recovery program that includes extensive outpatient alcohol and drug counseling. The organization also holds group sessions for women, clinical care for Strafford County Drug Court participants, and impaired driving assessments and education. The Kane House will add to this programming.
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After the 90-day program, Elwart said, the intention is that clients would have a job and support network established. With the current housing market, many struggle to find housing so this program helps reduce that barrier.
The building is also located near a COAST bus stop, which is vital in helping residents get to their jobs and appointments.
The men will have bedroom space for individuals or roommates, as well as common living areas like a living room and kitchen.
To ensure the highest chances of successful integration post-treatment, residents will be encouraged to continue treatment, seek out help from their peers in the facility, and to find work or continue their education. Residents pay a weekly rent, and will stay at Kane House for about a year.
“There are other guys going through the same thing they’re going through so they naturally form peer support to encourage each other,” Elwart said.
Residents will need to show that they are actively working on their sobriety, Elwart said. They will meet regularly with a case manager to discuss how they are settling in, what they’re doing to work towards their goals, and what they are learning in other support groups or outpatient treatment programs.
“While they are staying in a safe, sober environment, we want them to work and save up money as they decide the next steps of their life,” Elwart said. “They will be taking responsibility for themselves, their sobriety, and their lives, but also for one another.”
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If the residents are not working, they will be asked to volunteer at least 20 hours a week.
Kane said that he hopes that the Kane House will give the stability that those recovering from addiction need.
“With addiction, you’re always in a state of recovery, always doing things to ensure your sobriety,” Kane said. “Services like this save lives.”
Southeastern held a ribbon cutting Tuesday, to officially mark the opening of Kane House.
Donations make Kane House project possible
The space where Kane House is now located had been vacant for several years. It was once used as part of the jail for Strafford County. Southeastern has leased the space for some time, but other plans for the space fell through due to costs. Elwart said when the organization decided to move ahead with the sober home, members of the community “stepped up to help.”
The renovation was completed with the help of Eric Chinburg from Chinburg Properties and Lloyd Hamm from Newburyport Bank Charitable Foundation, each donating $12,500. Kane donated $10,000. There were a number of smaller donations. Elwart said that without these donations, the project would not have been possible. Furniture for the project was donated by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Boston of the Fontbonne Academy in Milton, Massachusetts.