By MIKE HERONEMUS
ABILENE, Kan. — Cedar House, an addiction rehabilitation home in Dickinson County, opens its doors to as many as six women at a time who need help with their lives. Saturday (June 4) it opened its doors to the public to showcase the work being done there.
The open house is an annual event that lets the public tour facilities and learn about the rehabilitation efforts being done at Cedar House.
Patti O’Malley, who also fought a personal battle with alcoholism, established Cedar House in 2014 and runs the rehab program with the assistance of Sister Loretta Jasper, a Sister of St. Joseph of Concordia, and a board of volunteers. She recently expanded the program with the addition of the Cardinal House in Enterprise this year.
The Cardinal House is a transition home for women who have finished the program at Cedar House and want to remain as mentors to new women struggling with personal addictions, O’Malley said.
Cedar House sits on about 30 acres of wooded and grassy and off Lark Road. The property includes O’Malley’s home — the Big House; Cedar House; a small cabin; gardens for vegetables and flowers; animal pens for chickens, turkeys and goats, as well as a few peacocks; a barn; and a “store” where women in the program can sell the soaps, other body products and handmade items they create while in the program.
Working to become self-sufficient
Manufacturing a product for sale is part of making the Cedar House program as self-sustaining as possible, O’Malley said. The “store” was getting some business Saturday and the women regularly sell their products at the farmer’s market in Abilene and at some local stores.
The gardens provide some of the food the women prepare and eat as well as the basics for their “for sale” items.
Some of the food also goes to a food pantry on the property. The women living in Cedar House work with the Wichita Food Bank and pick up a monthly stock of groceries, which they then distribute to about 35 families in Dickinson County.
A nonprofit organization, Cedar House operates on an annual budget of about $25,000, according to its website. The residents are expected to get full-time or part-time jobs while they are undergoing the rehabilitation, and, if possible, pay $400 a month to live at Cedar House.
Kendra Cool has been living at Cedar House for about five months. It has been a good change in her life because of the community atmosphere that pervades the group and the support system that is in place to help her, she said.
“We act as a group, supporting one another, is what makes it different” from her previous life, she said.
Cool found out about Cedar House while in another treatment program. One of the people on that program staff thought it might be good for her, so Cool applied, was interviewed and then was accepted.
Since being in the Cedar House program Cool said the most significant change in her life has been finding a new way to live. She believes the program is doing a good job of preparing her for life when she leaves Cedar House after a year.
Cool said she has a great full-time job working for Proscape and when not working she spends time in the Cedar House flower and vegetable gardens as well as helping with the food bank.
Evenings include attending meetings at Cedar House and at recovery program meetings in Chapman.
O’Malley is creating a new enterprise on the property — an aquaponics greenhouse that will keep the residents in fresh vegetables and fish year round. The aquaponics greenhouse will use water from a fish pond growing talapia. It was conceived about a year ago, she said, and construction has just started.
She has no finish date for the new project, but like everything she’s done on the property, she keeps taking new steps toward the goal she has set.