By: Michelle Kaufman
When Frank Baldwin became director of the Muncie Mission in 2014, he and his staff were frustrated with the outcomes of their addiction recovery program.
Then one man’s life and death led Baldwin to start a different kind of program, one that provides longer-term housing for residents who need it.
“We are pouring our lives into guys for a year, year and a half through our program. They would graduate, they would leave, they would do really well for a year or so and then the stresses of life — there would be a major event — an illness … that would totally throw the fragile balance that they had off balance,” Baldwin said. “Next thing you know, they’re dealing with the stresses the way that brought them in the first place … this time worse.”
In 2015, one of those graduating residents was Tyler Greathouse, who was an alcoholic. Maybe it is life’s way of making connections when you least expect it, but something drew Baldwin to Greathouse. Tyler was from Rock Island, Illinois, Baldwin’s hometown.
“He did so well for the time he was here,” Baldwin said. “He was intelligent. I still have a copy of his transcripts in my drawer.”.
After leaving the Mission, Greathouse got a job and an apartment. But eventually he relapsed. He is believed to have drank himself to death. Baldwin officiated the funeral, and as he looked out at Greathouse’s family, an idea came to him.
“It just came to me — we need transitional housing. We need a house where the Tylers are never isolated, where they never feel alone,” Baldwin said. “All this just went through my mind in a millisecond, pretty much a whole program. I said, ‘We’re going to build transitional housing, and I’m going to name the first house the Greathouse.’”
The program has gone through multiple expansions since it launched in the summer of 2016 and is expected to expand at least once more. Ball State University students have provided construction plans for two different homes that will be built in 2019. The J. Robert & Joanne N. Baur Foundation gave the Mission $175,000 after seeing those plans.
“We’ve bought a lot more lots, and I envision a great community of people who are thriving well and being contributing members to society,” Baldwin said. “It’s a complete turnaround [for them], and I have Tyler Greathouse to thank for that, and I wish he could have been one of the first guys through it. But we lost Tyler, and I’m going to do everything I can to not lose any more.”
Baldwin says nine out of 10 people who have entered the program stay sober, get a job, live independently and are involved in a new social network of their own. Some even start giving back to their community.
In addition to transitional housing, the Mission strives to make hope a part of its program. Hope, Baldwin says, comes with meeting the physical needs of their clients.
“That hope is provided by offering a safe shelter, by offering meals to eat, by offering clothes to wear so those are things they don’t have to worry about as they’re trying to deal with the internal issues of their life, those things that are broken,” Baldwin said.
“From a Christian perspective, if God has been so kind to meet their basic needs, it means there are other needs He can provide, too. There can be healing for the emotions, there can be tools to learn to deal with emotions, and there can be support networks to let you know you’re not alone.”