XENIA – It is no coincidence that the local Sober Lotus derives its name from an eastern flower that grows directly out of muddy and murky waters to produce beautiful white and pink blossoms.
To the non-profit’s founders, it’s symbolic of their lives.
Living on the streets and homeless, Miriah Pottle didn’t have many places to turn to a few cold winters ago, as she and her young son struggled to survive and stay warm, living out of her car.
“We were on the streets and homeless,” Pottle said, referring to her now five-year-old son, Elijah. “I can’t imagine having to go back to the streets like that, or the environment before that, an environment where people were using drugs.”
If it hadn’t been for Women’s Recovery Center and its transitional housing program, Pottle wonders where she would be today.
“They allowed me to bring my son with me,” Pottle said of WRC. “They saved my life. I spent three months there and then six months in transitional housing. I don’t know where I would be if I hadn’t.”
Today, Pottle is more than three years clean and sober and leading a new life with a career and great friends who support her recovery. Recently, she was asked to serve as treasurer for Sober Lotus, which recently had a fundraising chili cook-off at Lighthouse Baptist Church in Xenia.
“This is the job God has given me,” Pottle said. “This is what I want to do. I want to offer hope, to help women. I went through transitional housing. I’m a single mother. I’m proof. I have a career now as a hairstylist.”
Currently, the need for transitional housing for women in Xenia is tremendous as other avenues to house women in long term recovery recently lost funding. The chili cook off, which was a success, was one event in a series to help raise $20,000 to open at least one house in Xenia this year.
Having had to take women into her own home after they completed treatment, Sober Lotus Founder and Director Rachel Wise said this crisis hit home for her, showing her how the need for these kinds of places is tremendous.
“My husband (Michael) and I have had friends coming out of treatment with nowhere to go,” she said. Wise is also in long-term recovery, as a fellow graduate of WRC. “It made us realize how much of a shortage we have for women and the lack of resources really hinders their chances.”
Many people in the recovery community agree, seeing as how there are great resources for men through The Community Network — though nothing like this for women.
“Transitional housing helps these women build a foundation,” Pottle said. “I spent six months in transitional housing. I don’t know where I would be at if I had not.”
Sober Lotus board member Kip Morris, a local business owner, was instrumental behind the scenes in bringing this about. He had been mentoring Michael and Rachel Wise.
In May of last year, Morris said, they filed with the state to become an official 501(c)(3) non-profit.
“It usually takes a year to get approved,” Morris said. “But we were approved in September of last year.”
“Our goal is to by the end of this year have three houses,” Morris said. “The first house we want to raise $20,000 to buy a house to cover our options for six months. Once we get our first house it opens us up to funding … With all the opiate deaths in recent years the money is coming down from the federal level and we are positioning ourself in such a way to receive it.”
The chili cook off, which featured 20 entries from various members of Xenia’s growing recovery community, raised around $4,000. About 150 to 200 people showed up.
“That is pretty incredible,” Morris said. “All the rest came from the local recovery community which rallied around this in a big way.”
The Hope Spot donated $1,000 of that total.
Amy Lindon Pulver, co-founder of the Hope Spot in Xenia, said they are very supportive of recovery-driven organizations like this, and especially in this case because the need for transitional housing for women is important.
“This is incredibly important,” Pulver said. “Sober living housing is essential to support those recovering from substance abuse disorder … People getting out of treatment have a lot of obstacles to overcome and while they are getting themselves reestablished they must also be diligent about their recovery. To spend the amount of money and effort that is spent on the treatment aspect of recovery and then not following up with recovery support makes no sense.”
Nichole Worthington knows this all too well. As secretary of Sober Lotus, she, Pottle and Wise comprise the head of the organization — all three having graduated from WRC and turned their lives around in such a way that they now live to serve others, a result of living by spiritual principles instilled in the 12-steps that guided them to a “spiritual awakening.”
“If my story can help one woman, then I’m satisfied,” Worthington said. “I am here to help them find inner strength and courage.”
After the chili-cook off fundraiser, the second such event, the group is “zeroing in” on its goal half way.
“We are in the $10,000 range, pretty close,” Morris said. “We have worked with the Greene County Mental Health and Rehabilitation Board, and they have been very supportive, guiding us in the right directions. And none of this would work without Women’s Recovery Center … But yeah, we are about half way there.”
As for Pottle having to “drag” her son to meetings where alcoholics and addicts gather to share experience, strength and hope to keep this “recovery thing” alive — she said it’s worked out in her favor.
“My son, Elijah, he is five,” Pottle said. “Having him presented challenges, taking him to meetings. They say it takes a village to raise a child. It’s true. The local recovery community has helped me raise him.”
Brian Evans is a freelance writer for Greene County News.