Barb Esfeld is the Barton County appraiser, but she wore a different hat when she addressed the Great Bend City Council Monday night.
She has also witnessed firsthand family members who suffered from addiction. That is why she is an avid supporter of the Great Bend men’s and women’s Oxford Houses and why she wanted to offer an update on their success to the council.
“This is something I like to help with anyway I can,” she said. Now, she attends the Oxford House weekly meetings and helps when she can.
She was joined by Jamie Baldwin and others who were alumni from the program who helped with the report. They talked about the success and opportunity that each home has brought to Great Bend.
“It’s been a great experience for me,” she said. She has struggled with addiction for 15 years and finally feels she is making progress.
Started by a group of half-way house residents in 1975, Oxford Houses provide transitional living for persons recovering from life-controlling issues or people who just need a little help. Since opening up homes in Great Bend, they have become financially stable and have helped several people.
Those completing programs through the Dream Center would leave, but have no place to go, Esfeld said. While working with the Dream Center, she had started looking into starting an Oxford House when she learned the ball was already rolling.
The men’s home, Hope Central, is located at 1614 Morton St. and was started over a year ago, and the women’s home, Serenity Way, is located at 1314 Hubbard, and has also been in Great Bend over a year. There are 101 Oxford Homes in Kansas and 2,000 worldwide.
Residents must remain clean and have a job to remain in the houses. They must pay a deposit, $100 per month for rent and utilities.
Esfeld said they pray together, learn life skills and hold each other accountable. Each house has a board, made up of residents, that runs the facility and has the authority to evict a resident for not following the rules.
The goal is to move out on one’s own.
“I’d say both houses are a success,” Esfled said. Sure, some of the residents relapse, but there are many successful graduates.
“Initially, I had qualms” about the program, Councilwoman Vicki Berryman said. But, it now provides a service that wasn’t available before.
“I am proud of you,” Berryman said.