Arlington mentoring home provides faith-based service, community to keep its residents sober

dfwnewsa | April 3, 2024 | 0 | Fort Worth , Fort Worth News

Arlington mentoring home provides faith-based service, community to keep its residents sober

Kim McCluer, right, Dallas-Fort Worth community outreach coordinator at Hope is Alive, poses with her son, Josh, in front of the sober-living mentoring home April 1, 2024, in Arlington. McCluer was a teacher at Aledo ISD before retiring to work at Hope is Alive after seeing the organization’s positive impacts on her son and other residents. (Dang Le | Fort Worth Report)
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Kim McCluer saw all the signs. 

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The McCluers suspected their son, Josh, was using drugs in high school, but they were in denial. After all, the family was close. They went to church. They talked every day. 

But when Josh graduated high school and attended a university away from home — signs became clearer: His grades were slipping, and his whereabouts on the family location-sharing apps worried McCluer. 

That was spring 2022. She planned to tell Josh he was not returning to school that fall. 

Josh, however, got there first, asking for help from his family in April 2022. By that time, he had overdosed three times at his university. Josh was taking any drugs he could get his hands on — mainly fentanyl. 

The family and Josh tried many options but couldn’t find a good fit. Then, they toured sober-living mentoring homes offered by the faith-based nonprofit Hope is Alive. 

Residents living at the homes undergo a three-part program that can take anywhere between 18 and 24 months to keep them sober. There are 26 homes nationwide, but the only Texas location is in Arlington, which celebrated its second anniversary April 1. The current house offers services for eight male residents. 

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Josh will graduate from the program and move out in July. 

“It’s been a long journey, but it’s been good,” he said. 

Throughout the process, he has learned how to budget, keep a job and manage family relationships, he said. But the most important thing to him is that he can now have healthy relationships with people. 

Hope is Alive staff and Arlington community members cut the ribbon April 1, 2024, to celebrate the second anniversary of the Dallas-Fort Worth home in Arlington. The nonprofit has 26 sober-living mentoring homes nationwide. (Dang Le | Fort Worth Report)

The nonprofit requires a screening process, during which residents are asked about themselves, their short- and long-term goals and mental health, said Trevor Burger, DFW senior program manager. Because the organization doesn’t provide certain medications or health treatments, it refers elsewhere to almost 70% of people reaching out for the service. 

Once a month, Burger sat down with each resident to discuss their finances and relationships with family members and others. 

He’s not a licensed counselor, but Burger approaches these conversations with his own experiences. He’s also a resident. 

“I was an active addict for 10 years and couldn’t keep a needle out of my arm,” he said. “I was doing meth and heroin and Xanax — literally everything you can imagine. I have 15 mugshots.”

The three-phrase program aims to help residents build a strong foundation of life skills for recovery. By the end, they will have accomplished more than 60 requirements. The program also asks residents to get a job. The Arlington location charges $750 for monthly rent.

Residents are required to go to church and attend Bible study at the house on Monday nights. 

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Trevor Burger, DFW senior program manager, speaks about the program April 1, 2024, at the Arlington sober-living mentoring home. Burger is also a resident at the house along with seven other men. (Dang Le | Fort Worth Report)

Volunteer Andrea Crichton was curious when she saw members wearing Hope is Alive shirts at her church two years ago. 

Now, one Sunday night per month, Crichton brings a meal and a speaker to the house, where residents host a “Brag on the Bros” event to discuss each other’s good deeds. Over the past two years, she’s made friends with the guys and witnessed their growth. 

“We met Trevor within his first couple of months here, and to see how he has grown, there really isn’t any other answer or reason for his growth, for where he is and for his sobriety other than Christ,” she said.

Nationwide, Hope is Alive has an 85% success rate for graduates. The Arlington location is always maxed out with eight residents and has a long waitlist, Burger said. 

The Greater Arlington Chamber of Commerce also presented a plaque to welcome Hope is Alive as a member at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, said Elena Thaxton, the chamber’s director of member engagement. 

Hope is Alive is a great resource for Arlington, as each community member may deal with different walks of life and never knows where that would take them, Thaxton said. 

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Hope is Alive presents free items for guests visiting the open house event April 1, 2024, in Arlington. (Dang Le | Fort Worth Report)

Crichton doesn’t know what it’s like to experience addiction, she said, but she knows how much creating a community has helped her own life. People aren’t meant to live alone and she wants to build that sense of community for the guys. 

“If I can be that for other people, I want to do that,” she said. 

In Josh’s previous communities, most of his friends would get high with him, or they would get drunk. Now, the guys at Hope is Alive are going bowling or grocery shopping together. 

Josh turns 21 this month. He works at an advertising agency. 

He is weighing his options this July. He could continue in sales, but he also wants to return to school and eventually become a dental hygienist.  

His second anniversary of sobriety was April 1. 

Dang Le is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at dang.le@fortworthreport.org or @DangHLe. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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