If You Only Have 60 Seconds…
- Harmony House is a women’s shelter that is nearing completion in the Village of West Greenville.
- The project is born of passion and a need to help the women of the Upstate suffering from addiction.
- The project aims to destigmatize addiction and to help these women integrate back into society.
One of the reasons I was visiting Turning Point was so that I could learn more about their project in development, Harmony House. With a story this impactful, I knew I would need to devote some time and words to it. That being said, this is the second in our two-part series on Turning Point and Harmony House. Let’s take you back to the scene: I am in the Meeting Building at Turning Point, and I am having the honor to speak with some truly incredible individuals. Along with Jordan Wright, I was also able to speak with a few women who were able to give me some insight on just how important a project like Harmony House will be to the area.
A Staggering Need
Mandy Learo is the CEO of a similar organization to Harmony House opening in Greenville. Her organization will be named Sylvia House. Mandy is an incredibly well-spoken person who was able to give me some staggering insight on the crisis of addiction. “The options that are available for women are extremely limited. Harmony House is fulfilling a need.” Having gone through recovery herself, Mandy was familiar with the recovery cycle. She was also familiar with the negative connotation that comes along with being an addict. “Addicts and alcoholics are highly stigmatized. Noise is made about the drug epidemics, but not enough noise is made about recovery. Harmony House is filling a social need. This population is a huge untapped resource. If they can come out the other side, they can be good employees, good friends, good mothers, and all around good citizens.” The idea is both simple and complex, and it shows just how important The Harmony House project is.
While at Turning Point, I also had the distinct pleasure of speaking with Angela Culbertson. Angela is the administrative assistant for the men’s facility, but even more, she will be the facility manager at Harmony House. I could feel the warmth and love radiating from Angela as she told me about her hopes for Harmony House. “I am looking forward to being able to help women. I am hoping to have another staff member helping me, but we will have beds for 26 women at Harmony House.” The program at Harmony House will be identical to that at Turning Point, but there will be special avenues of help for these women that men wouldn’t necessarily need. “We are providing resources for them to get their lives back in order. We will help them with life skills, DSS, or other issues that they may have involving their children.”
Be The Change You Want To See
Angela also spoke to me about the stigma surrounding addiction, especially for women in the south. “There is a huge stigma being a female in recovery, especially with children. You are expected to be a certain way, and to be strong for your family. Sometimes this prevents you from even admitting there is a problem. You could be standing in the grocery store, and the person behind you has a problem, and you wouldn’t even know it. You don’t know where someone has been or where they are going.”
It is this attitude that Angela hopes to convey about Harmony House. “If you are at least 18 years of age, you are welcome. We want you to know this is a safe environment, there is no discrimination. Nothing you have done in your using or addictive behavior will disqualify you.”
“You have to be the change you want to see. If you want to see change, that change has to start with me.”
One of the last things Angela said really stuck with me because it shows just how committed she is to Harmony House. “You have to be the change you want to see. If I want to see change, that change has to start with me. That is how I feel today, every day. It has to begin with me.” These words should resonate with anyone looking to make a difference.
Through it all, Jordan was my point of contact providing me with information and access so I could get the entire story on both Turning Point and Harmony House. He was the one who initially impressed upon me the great need for what Harmony House is doing. There are only 50 beds for women in the state who are seeking recovery. 5-0. Fifty. Let that sink in for a moment.
There Is Still Work To Do
A week after my tour of Turning Point, Jordan gave me the opportunity to come see Harmony House. It is truly inspiring to see everyone working so diligently for this cause. The house itself dates back to 1896, but they are completely redoing the interior of the house. Even better? Most of the materials and utilities were donated by generous area companies. Furthermore, solar panels have been donated by a local company.
Harmony House is truly fulfilling a need, one that isn’t extremely visible to those who aren’t directly affected by addiction. Even though the house is nearing its completion, there are still opportunities to get involved. No one should have to struggle alone, and everyone should have access to help if they want it. Harmony House is providing this helping hand to so many. The project is not only changing the lives of addicts in Greenville, but across the entire state.
For more information about Harmony House and how you can get involved in being the change, visit their website here.