Provoking Hope sees dramatic growth
It’s grown dramatically since opening in October 2011. It received 20 visits that first month, compared to 583 in November and 523 in December of 2012, just one year later.
Tony Ritacca, now serving on the entity’s board of directors, credits Provoking Hope with saving his life.
Recently released from jail, he was enrolled in Yamhill County’s chemical dependency program when he met Diane Reynolds, executive director of Provoking Hope. He soon made the agency’s downtown office a second home.
“I felt safe hanging out here for hours on end,” Ritacca said.
Though he owned a house in Amity, he had several appointments in McMinnville and a lot of free time in between.
“I feel like I’m a product of Provoking Hope, because I had that place to go,” Ritacca said. “Anytime I needed to talk, she was there. Now I give back.”
Reynolds said the county justice system has done an amazing job establishing drug courts and chemical dependency programs, and has assembled a team of caring probation officers.
But she said it still relies on them to become clean, stay clean and meet all of the mandated commitments.
She said many addicts find that challenge overwhelming. They don’t know where to start.
Their culture revolves around drugs, Reynolds said. They sell, buy and use.
“That’s how they’ve lived their lives,” she said. “They don’t do the things we do.”
She said they have either lost touch with a more traditional lifestyle in the haze of addiction or, in the case of second- and third-generation addicts, have never known any other.
“We’re creating them a path, getting them to see their lives can have a purpose and hope,” Reynolds said. “When they were 6, none of them said he wanted to be a drug addict, alcoholic or wife abuser.”
The program sends postcards to inmates being released from jail with a list of its services. The hope is that those with addiction problems will seek help rather than lapse back into drinking and drugs.
Kent Marts, who also serves on the board, said some clients walk in the door high on drugs or alcohol. “For some, that’s what gives them the guts to come in,” he said.
The staff is trained to determined if they need help with food and shelter, or if they need a coat, a pair of socks or a pair of gloves, perhaps.
The program is strictly voluntary. There is no fee schedule, and Reynolds is committed to keeping it that way.
“No one is turned away,” she said. “The other thing is, nobody is mandated to be here. I want them to be here because they made that freewill choice.”
Those who become involved can choose the route they want to go — a program based on traditional evidenced-based support or a program featuring a faith-based component.
Although Reynolds is an ordained Nazarene minister, she is adamant that those not wanting a faith element injected into their treatment plan have that option.
She has a long history of dealing with addictive behavior. She has served as recovery minister for the Nazarene Church on the Hill, run Stormwalker Recovery House in Dayton with her husband, Bob, and worked with crime victims through the district attorney’s office.
Reynolds describes herself as a people-gatherer.
“Gathering and equipping those I gather is a gift and talent,” she said. “People tend to believe in themselves when you believe in them.”
That philosophy has helped her attract both clients and volunteers.
When an individual enters Provoking Hope, he or she is asked to fill out an anonymous intake survey. It is used strictly to create aggregate data.
The first of the eight questions is a simple one: “How confident are you in your ability to abstain from drugs and alcohol?”
Reynolds said Provoking Hope wraps services around its clients and walks them through steps like attending drug court and enrolling in a chemical dependency program. She said it only has a $20,000 annual budget, but its all-volunteer approach — not even she is paid — stretches the money a long way.
Eventually, the program would like to develop its own in-patient treatment center, Yamhill Valley Treatment.
“We need to help people in the area catch the vision we have,” Marts said. “We need the support. The more support we get, the more we’re able to do.”
He said the typical Provoking Hope participant simply doesn’t know how to make his or her way in normal society.
“Our desire is to help them reintegrate in every aspect,” he said. And he said a residential treatment center would further that.
Marts said the program has located a facility that would be ideal — a two-story building with a basement.
He said it envisions establishing a thrift store on the ground floor to raise funds for the program and provide jobs for its clients. He said clients could live upstairs and the basement put to other uses.
The building includes restrooms and a kitchen, so has about everything the program needs — except the $50,000 to cover the down payment.
Reynolds said what the program has planned differs from other available options. “It really will be a treatment house rather than a recovery house,” she said.
She said it would deploy both mentors and sponsors, with mentors providing education and advice, sponsors peer support, a sounding board and accountability.
“The sponsor’s there to help you stay clean,” Reynolds said. “The mentor’s there to look at all of life’s skills and work with you to help change your behavior.”
On the wall behind her desk, Reynolds has two signs. One reads, “Dreams really do come true,” the other, “I saw a need.”
On a side wall, she has affixed a bulletin board. It displays photos of people who have lost their battle with addiction and paid with their lives.
That’s strong medicine for clients.
“I tell them, you make the decision between life and death,” Reynolds said. “It’s you who gets to choose.”