Confronting addiction: Support sought for Home of Hope women’s campus center

BRIDGEVILLE – Addiction does not discriminate.

For women, the road to recovery is different and in many ways more difficult than men, say foundation facilitators of a faith-based recovery program for women based in Sussex County.

“Women on Delmarva need help,” said Lauren Vanaman. “There is no place to send them.”

Lauren Vanaman, fundraising chair, speaks on the desperate need for the Delmarva Teen Challenge Home of Hope women’s campus center in the battle against drug addiction.

Initial $1.2 million investment has been made and community support to the tune of $300,000 for projected one-year’s operating budget is being sought for the opening of Delmarva Teen Challenge’s Home of Hope – a women’s center campus located on Leadership Way off Rifle Range Road several miles east of Bridgeville.

When its doors open, possibly before summer ends, the 90-acre campus will house upward of 35 women in a pair of two-story dormitories. The welcome mat will be out for pregnant women and those with young children.

The program spans 12 to 15 months.

“It will be somewhat different in that we are trying to promote more of a healing environment, especially with the abuses that happen with women and children,” said Bob Carey, Delmarva Teen Challenge executive director at a Feb. 1 gathering at the campus chapel. “We need to stress this is a campus, not a halfway house, not a mission, not a battered women’s shelter.”

The center’s main focus is the drug epidemic. “It’s our biggest problem,” said Mr. Carey.

Principles of Teen Challenge Home of Hope women’s center will mirror those of Teen Challenge’s documented 86-percent success rate worldwide, which include 35,000 residential beds in the United States.

Teen Challenge, launched nearly 60 years ago with a lone facility in New York City, today has 1,200 centers, including a men’s facility in Seaford, encompassing 122 countries.

“We are a very highly-disciplined program. We believe in the discipline, building character, virtue in people’s lives. There is lot of accountability. There are classes Monday through Friday from 8 (a.m.) to noon. We have specialized curriculum that addresses a lot of the personal things that addiction takes away from an individual’s life. We believe that a relationship with Jesus Christ is the answer and solution,” said Mr. Carey. “This program is a must. We have to do it. There is no campus for women; no addiction program that has the success rate of Home of Hope. Even the Betty Ford Clinic percentage is somewhere near 11 percent.”

The Delmarva center will be the sixth Teen Challenge Home of Hope for women and the only one on the east coast of the U.S, Mr. Carey said.

Ms. Vanaman, director of corporate services for Trinity Logistics, is chairing the fundraising committee effort entitled: Gideons 300 Ambassadors. She says 27 years in church ministry has exposed her to the many pitfalls of addiction in women.

“I have worked with the youth and I worked all the way up to the women. The story is the same: When they have no value … they are open to all kinds of addiction,” said Ms. Vanaman. “A woman in addiction is prostituted, sometimes by her boyfriend or her husband because that cashes in for their addiction. She likely has been abused because a lot of times those root causes of why they end up in addiction is abuse, abandonment. It could even be no father who showed that love in the household. Once they are in addiction it is a really hard cycle to break because they are being prostituted.”

Among statistics presented by Ms. Vanaman was the Delaware Department of Health & Social Services’ assessment that 32 percent of addicts seeking treatment in Delaware are women largely between the ages of 25 and 34.

Presently, there are 95 residential treatment beds in state of Delaware. Most are 30-day centers, with one in Harrington that now offers three- to six-month treatment, Ms. Vanaman said.

“You cannot first of all take a woman, get her off drugs and put her back on the street in 30 days and expect that she will never fall back into the old habits. For one, she doesn’t have a support system. She is going to gravitate back to family or friends that enabled her to begin with. And 95 beds; this center will have a third of that when we open our doors,” said Ms. Vanaman. “Thinking about the biological differences in a woman, a woman’s biological makeup, she will become a substance abuse addict faster than men. It’s just part of her chemical system. She will become addicted faster and withdrawal becomes more intense. That is why this center is so important.”

Delmarva Teen Challenge Executive Director Bob Carey, left, is introduced by John Hollis during a press conference and tour of the Home of Hope women’s center campus.

Delmarva Teen Challenge Home of Hope expects to draw from Delaware and parts of Maryland, mostly the Salisbury area. Some in the program will be court-ordered and some from incarceration, Mr. Carey said.

Mothers that are pregnant will be able enter, along with addicted women with children under 6.

“We believe that when the mother is saved and recovering the child will recover and then the mother will love the child all over again in a different way, in a healthy way,” Mr. Carey said.

The program will incorporate on-campus, live-in staff and interns who will provide supervision, self-esteem/confidence building and life skills on how to cook, love their kids, house clean and manage a budget.  There are specialty programs for individualized help for such issues as anger management.

Four members of the staff are graduates of Teen Challenge women’s centers “that know the culture of Teen Challenge that will live in there with them,” Mr. Carey explained.

One of the two campus dormitories.

Buildings that years ago housed Cedar Point Academy have been totally gutted and have or are being completely renovated, inside and out. Dormitories are accompanied by a Home of Hope chapel and an administration/resident childcare building.

Security includes 20 surveillance cameras located throughout the campus, which is nestled among towering pine trees.

A children’s playground makeover is the $20,000 focus an Eagle Scout project, Mr. Carey said.

Dormitories feature modern kitchen facilities, a dining room, computer room, multiple bathrooms and washer/dryers, an activity room and cribs for young children.

Delmarva Teen Challenge, founded nine years ago, currently operates men’s facilities in Seaford at 3rd and North streets, once notoriously known nationwide as Crack Alley.

A funding generator is the Delmarva Teen Challenge shopping center off Sussex Highway in Seaford. It includes several leased stores and the 38,000 square-foot Teen Challenge thrift store.

Keith Warren, chief of staff for Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long, and Polly and Jay Mervine listen to testimony about Home of hope.

Mr. Carey said the Delmarva Teen Challenge board of directors were reluctant to open the women’s center until sufficient funding was in place to cover 12-month operations. “Our board voted we would not open until we had one year’s annual budget,” he said. “We didn’t want this to be burden on the thift store and the men’s program.”

John Hollis moderated the informational session Feb. 1 attended by State Rep. Dave Wilson, Keith Warren, (chief of staff for Delaware Lt. Gov. Bethany Hall-Long), Jeff Banning of Trinity, Home of Hope development director Shelley Spedden, Laurel town councilman Johnathan Kellam and Polly and Jay Mervine.

“People in our society have fallen prey to addiction. They are shunned. They are separated from loved ones; mothers separated from children,” said Mr. Hollis. “It is an opportunity for us to break that cycle, to demonstrate that love that was demonstrated for us on the cross.”

For more information on Teen Challenge Home of Hope or Gideons 300 Ambassadors, call 629-2559, email: or visit

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at

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