Volunteer efforts help transform addiction care in Gwinnett
Updated: Dec 18, 2020
Susan and Farley Barge had a big dream.
“We already had Navigate Recovery Gwinnett, which is an addiction recovery community organization and we provide recovery services there,” explained Susan. “And we saw a huge need for residential services.”
But finding a home for an addiction recovery center? It felt like a big hurdle.
“We had seen this bed and breakfast for sale,” said Susan. “And we said, ‘God, this would make a really good home for a recovery place. But it’s a little over our heads.’ So, we just prayed about it.”
Then, six months later, amazing things started happening.
“One of the people on our prayer team called me,” she explained. “And she said, ‘I’ve got some money to invest in real estate, and there’s this house that I think would make a really great recovery place.’”
Turns out, they had all been eyeing the same bed and breakfast. And that 2019 conversation kicked off a partnership and helped launch Lightway Recovery.
But it turns out finding a home was only half the battle. The former Flowery Branch B&B needed a recovery of its own before it could serve women recovering from addiction.
“We had to add a whole-house sprinkler system, for one thing,” added Susan, now CEO of Lightway. “And we were devastated when we saw how ugly the sprinkler system was. It was a huge orange pipe running all through the house. Not in the ceiling, but right at the ceiling, like six inches below.”
But when they connected with Home Repairs through a friend at 12Stone, Home Repairs’ volunteer and Board President Bill Isaak found a solution.
“Bill Isaak came up with the idea of doing a thin wood box [around the sprinkler pipes] and it looks fantastic,” she said. “It’s amazing what a difference it makes.”
But it wasn’t just the original ideas that impressed them, said Susan.
“Not only did they really know what they were doing, all the volunteers just had the best spirit about them,” she said. “We had other contractors working on the house, doing finish work, and they were just a great influence.”
During their time working at the Lightway Recovery house, Home Repairs volunteers were able to help with various other projects, including installing upgraded doors in the attic, bathrooms, and other rooms, installing hardware, trim, and more.
From Susan’s point of view, these projects have the potential to make an eternal difference.
“I know they typically work with widows and people who are having a struggle of some sort, but they are really going to impact a lot of lives here, too,” Susan said. “As we work with women, we’re hoping to impact their children and their families and that impacts another whole generation. We couldn’t have picked a better partner to do that with. It just meant so much to us that they came alongside us to help us do that.”
Lightway Recovery Wellness Center, a sister organization to Navigate Recovery Gwinnett, provides long-term, residential recovery support to women, including pregnant and postpartum women. Learn more at lightwayrecovery.org.
Want to learn more about volunteering at Home Repairs Ministries? Visit HomeRepairs.org.