CASCADE — As a team of 15 cleaned the cabin in Cascade, a group of women were on their way toward it through Tennessee. It will be their home for quite some time as they recover from addiction.

The Hope Center will open an all-female addiction treatment center in the scenic area — the 13th center the organization has opened around the world, and the fourth exclusively for women.

The cabin is found down winding back roads snaking west in Pittsylvania County, past open fields and dense deciduous woods. The crew busy lugging bedding and shelving Friday into the 4,000 square-foot cabin was from Hope Center’s all-male Axton branch, the organization’s district director Travis Byrd said.

Those selected to live in the house will be culled from the local community, including jails and courts, Byrd said. But not anyone can come; the center selects only those who want to help themselves.

“The Hope Center is not a place for people who need recovery,” he said. “It is a place for people who want recovery.”

That recovery comes with a strict daily schedule — planned from 4:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Byrd explained — and an ironclad rule: no using, or you are out.

That rule, director of admissions Gary Robertson said, is to give those who did not initially make it into the program a shot. The past is the past, Robertson said, but the center will only work for those who make it work for them. Through religion, the program works to replace substance dependency with faith.

“That addiction must be replaced with something else and we believe that must be replaced with Jesus Christ,” Byrd said.

The center offers eight and 12-month programs. For the first 45 days, the schedule is tight, and patients are not allowed out of the house, instead attending classes, therapy sessions and doing chores. But as trust builds, the center gives them more autonomy — allowing them to get jobs and, after months of good behavior, keep money. The center offers classes on saving and spending money and allows participants to build a nest egg for when they graduate the program and go back out into the world.

“This is not just about getting recovery… if we can help a woman change her life, we can change a family,” Robertson said. “And if we can change families, we can change communities.”

Though the cabin is in Cascade, it is known as the Danville center because of where its population will likely originate. The first six residents will come from Tennessee, but the center will fill with local residents — those referred by courts or who come in voluntarily.

Hope Centers open in proximity to and partnership with a local church after soliciting community feedback and assessing the potential for a recovery center in the area. A need was identified in Danville, Robertson said, noting that few long-term addiction services exist for women in the area.

“In Danville and the Henry County area, there has been a lack of services for women,” he said. “There really hasn’t been any longer-term recovery centers in the area.”

Chris Henderson was one person cleaning up the newly vacated cabin. He has been at the Axton center for 40 days. He said the center creates a positive uplifting environment for residents — one that is sure to extend to the new branch.

“Most of them who come to the Hope Center will experience unconditional love,” he said, taking a break from dusting a future dormitory. “When they pull up to this place, any trepidation will be gone.”

There is no judgment passed among residents, Henderson said. The goal — and the effect — is to uplift people seeking relief from addiction by surrounding them with supportive peers.

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James Whitlow reports for the Danville Register & Bee. Contact him at jwhitlow@registerbee.com or (434) 791-7983.

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