Community leaders, elected officials, and neighborhood residents filled the rows of tables inside the old bowling alley on North Elmwood Friday afternoon March 22, to witness the opening of a brand new facility that will, in a few short months, be a space of restoration for hundreds.
Healing House, a faith-based substance use disorder recovery support service that has been a beacon of hope in the Northeast community for nearly 20 years, is expanding its reach to include a Recovery Community Center.
The new facility will allow Healing House to expand capacity by 50 percent, helping to meet the growing need for recovery programming and services. The building has the capacity to seat 300 people for dining and host large meetings. It will also offer increased programming and services to the residents and the community.
The Recovery Community Center (RCC) will provide a comfortable, safe setting for people seeking hope, change, and healthy relationships. It will also offer meetings, programs, and support to allow families to begin healing and will feature a commercial kitchen designed to provide daily, large group meals, as well as a Culinary Arts Program.
Bobbi Jo Reed, Founder of Healing House, said the limited capacity of the current facility results in turning away about 125 people a week, due to lack of space. But she says no one walks away without resources.
“We care,” said Bobbi Jo. “I love the Northeast. I’ve been here for 23 years and I love this community. This was a really high dollar project to do, but this community is worth it and it’s thriving again and we are so excited.”
The RCC will also contain the new RCC Manager’s office, a dedicated counseling and recovery support office, resource library, group meeting rooms, private counseling spaces, a family reunification room, and an education center.
Group meeting rooms will host various addiction recovery and relapse prevention programs provided daily by Healing House. In addition, the RCC will allow the organization to expand their Education Center, providing space and resources for adult learning opportunities, vocational support, and skill building.
Healing House works to provide safe and stable homes for men and women who are committed to overcoming their addiction and becoming responsible, productive, drug and alcohol-free members of society. Healing House provides opportunities for spiritual and personal growth, along with purposeful guidance and support.
The vision for Healing House began in 2001 when the program’s founder, Bobbi Jo Reed, purchased a single residence home in a once blighted section of Kansas City with the goal of providing safe, substance-free, transitional housing for up to ten women. As a former addicted person, she understood the many challenges that people with substance abuse face as they transition back into meaningful roles in society.
In her book, Beautifully Broken, Bobbi Jo Reed describes her journey purchasing her first recovery house and the obstacles she faced in making it a home for other women in need. As the home started to fill up with women in recovery, Bobbi Jo said she knew the home needed a name.
“Someone suggested ‘Bobbi Jo’s House’ and another ‘St. John’s House,’ since we were located on St. John,” Bobbie Jo writes. “But neither of these felt right to me. As I prayed about this, pictures came to mind of women who had been sent to me. They’d walk in with blank, dark, empty eyes, and soon God’s love would become real, and that darkness would be replaced with the light of God’s Spirit. Hope returned; life began to take root. ‘It’s healing,’ I thought. ‘This home is a place for healing.’ So Healing House it became.”
After two years, Healing House became a 501(c)3 and the foundation was built on the fundamental belief that the surest way to life-long recovery is through exposure to, and active participation in a mentally, physically, spiritually, and emotionally healthy and safe environment that focuses on individual and group support.
Since then, Healing House has renovated 12 homes, 2 apartment buildings, a daycare, and now a former bowling alley. In 2017, Healing House opened a home for pregnant women and new mothers and has since had five drug-free babies born.
Bobbi Jo Reed discussed her own experience with recovery over 20 years ago.
“When I got sober, 23 years ago, there were 900 women going through in-patient treatment in our city, with less than 30 safe beds for women to go to when they completed treatment, and it broke my heart. There was nowhere to go.”
Healing House currently provides housing and recovery support services for approximately 800 people per year.
Over the last sixteen years, Healing House has markedly expanded its scale and reach, embracing not only their dedication to restoring people’s lives, but also continuing to transform the community into a safe, thriving place to reside. Since inception, Healing House has provided services for over 6,000 individuals and families.
Today, Healing House can provide housing and services to 169 adults and 30 children, but could turn away as many as 125 people a week that need services, but the new building will allow Healing House to serve many more.
Bobbi Jo Reed told the Northeast New she has big plans for the new space.
“We will be doing a lot of community events in here,” she said. “I want to do self defense classes, movie viewings, and if someone has an event they want to use it for, we also have a large conference room. We really want this to be blessing to our community here, and we are going to be doing a lot of cool things. We are also going to do a week-long vacation bible school over summer for kids. The cool thing about this place is that people can participate in the recovery groups and they can bring their children and they will be watched by a provider here. Also, next month, we are partnering with Goodwill, and we will have computer literacy training, so people will have the chance to get certificates in Word Perfect and Excel, so they can get better jobs. We will also have an employment specialist on-site.”
Currently, 99 percent of Healing House residents are unemployed upon arrival, but within 90 days, 95 percent of residents are employed.
Healing House offers a computer lab and education center to help people obtain GEDs, develop basic computer skills, set up email accounts, resumes, and more.
Education services include GED/HiSet, parenting, budgeting, computer skills, employment preparation, resume building, and monthly community Naloxone training.
Groups are also offered, such as relapse prevention, recovery meetings, Bible studies, and family and friend loss groups.
Healing House also offers programs, including life skills, spiritual activities, hobbies, crafts, yoga, dance, exercise, anger management, family dynamics, and peer mentoring.
Ingrid Burnette, State Representative for District 19, who lives in the Northeast community, spoke to those in attendance on the importance of gratitude.
“I couldn’t be more grateful than to be here and celebrate this,” she said. “This building, at that time, was a vacant and scary place and remained so, until Bobbi Jo and Healing house turned it over and made it what it is today. I have been reading a lot lately about gratitude and the importance and power that gratitude brings. This place is evidence of that.”
Jackson County Executive Frank White expressed his support for Healing House and the work done in the community.
“Healing House does so much for our community,” said White. “Everyday you’re saving lives and offering hope and you’re strengthening futures. That’s why Jackson County is proud to support Healing House and provide funding. Together, we are committed to developing a healthy, safe, and prosperous future for our children, our seniors, and adults. The opening of this recovery center is opening the doors for Healing House to do more good for our community.”
Bobbi Jo Reed provides vision for the Healing House program and works in close coordination with the Board of Directors to develop and carry out the organization’s operations, including programming, fundraising goals, initiatives, timelines, and outcomes. She is in long-term recovery with over 22 years of sobriety, and is a visible leader in the substance abuse recovery community.
She currently serves as the Chairman of Kansas City Substance Abuse Treatment Recovery Support Coalition as well as Missouri Coalition Recovery Support Providers Housing Task Force. She holds a MRSS-P (Missouri Recovery Support Specialist Peer) certification and a MARS (Medication Assisted Recovery Specialist) certification.
In 2010, she was awarded the Christian Servant Passion Award by the National Christian Foundation. She also served on the governor committee to end homelessness from 2012 to 2014. She received the Unsung Hero Outstanding Service Provider award from KCSATRSC in 2014. She was a Kansas City Star Citizen of the Year finalist in 2015, and was awarded the Substance Use Disorder Mental Health Champion Award from Missouri Mental Health Foundation in 2018.
She has devoted her life to help people suffering with substance use disorder, instilling hope and a sense of belonging and purpose to all she serves, and a commitment of transformation not only to the community, but to the great city as a whole.
When asked what this means to her, Bobbi Jo told the Northeast News it’s all about the people.
“To me, it means that we will be able to help more people. The impact has been in the thousands. Now, we will be able to help even more. When people are in here, this is not just a soup kitchen; this is all about bettering people’s lives. Nobody comes in here and just sits around; they are doing something productive while they are in here. It’s amazing. It’s really going to change people’s lives. We want to be part of the solution.”