By Briar Carter Akins
As the Women’s Services Coordinator, I assist with the intake process for the women. Although our program is full of structure and accountability, which is what the alcoholic or addict needs, we also provide a family-like atmosphere, and hope to inspire our residents to want to be sober and embrace a life of happiness.
Dallas 24 Hour Club is more often than not, the place for the hopeless and broken. We are the last house on the block for the individual who is out of options. Our goal at Dallas 24 Hour Club is to bring back hope and structure for that individual if they are willing to do what it takes. Willingness is key.
To see if they are eligible for our program, we ask a series of rigorous qualifying questions followed by a summary of the rules and our structure to make sure they are willing to make a 30 day commitment. We are not a “few night” facility, nor are we a regular homeless shelter, so the individual needs to be willing to do the work to stay sober to qualify to be a resident. If they still desire to become a resident after hearing the rules and structure, then they are asked to take a drug and breathalyze test. After the tests, the individual will begin the intake process with one of the Program Managers.
Intake consists of a thorough background check, followed by a facility tour with a current resident, who will be the new resident’s mentor. The mentor will show the new resident around and explain how things work. They will also be a friendly face to go to for support and fellowship throughout their stay. After a tour of the facility, the mentor will introduce the new resident to the clothes closet, where they can pick out fresh clothing. The new resident will then shower – oftentimes, something he/she hasn’t done in a long time. I always see a little hope in their eyes after a long-awaited shower. It makes them feel human again.
Everyone intakes into Phase 1, which means they will be sleeping on a mat on the floor, which seems horrific and inhumane, but that first night’s stay at Dallas 24 Hour Club is often filled with hope and gratitude. Most new residents say it “was the best they’ve slept in a long time.” Once a resident has a job, a sponsor and can afford the guest fees, they can apply to move to Phase 2, which means they will be moved to a bunkbed room and have a variety of privileges not given to Phase 1 residents. Phase 1 is designed to be a humbling experience. We want our residents to take responsibility and have the desire and drive to move up to Phase 2.
Intake generally takes 1-3 hours to complete and is an exciting time for the new resident. This is their second chance and oftentimes their last chance to rebuild their life – to create a brand new start.
The new residents are always heavily welcomed at Dallas 24 Hour Club, especially because every person in the building has been in their shoes. At all hours of the day, current or past residents flood the halls welcoming the newcomer or potential resident. From my office, I’ll hear a current or past resident say to a new person, “We’re so glad you’re here”, followed by “I stayed at this place and it has changed my life. You’re going to love it here.”
And we hope they do love it. Our goal is to help our residents find the willingness to create a brand new start, live a sober life, find employment and embrace a life of happiness.
Briar Carter Akins is the Women's Service Coordinator for Dallas 24 Hour Club.