The Next Door is not rehab, although many of their residents have substance abuse in their past. It’s not a homeless shelter though some of its residents have spent time on the streets. And while it’s not a court-ordered program, most of the women who enter its program are coming out of incarceration.
It is, however, a hybrid program that has received national recognition. Former President George W. Bush lauded it as a national model for nonprofit recovery and support programs.
When Tennessee’s first lady, Andrea Conte, gives her opening remarks at Thursday’s commemoration at Lipscomb, The Next Door will celebrates its fifth year of operation. In those five years, it has served more than 500 women that could otherwise be in rehab, homeless shelters or jail.
“Our mission is to provide hope and opportunity for women in our community that just do not have any other place to turn,” noted CEO Linda Leathers. “We’re quite proud of the success we’ve earned through hard work and determination.”
The Next Door was created in 2004 as a residential program specifically for women in the Nashville area coming out of incarceration. Its mission and goals have remained firm from the start: to help women become whole again.
Participants apply for the program and agree to follow firm rules and regulations. Upon acceptance, they have two weeks to find a job and immediately begin preparing for a new life. They receive medical care, counseling, life skills training and even legal advice. Some are given parenting courses to demonstrate positive family skills that are critical for earning custody of their children. They spend up to six months at the downtown Nashville facility when they are recognized with a graduation ceremony.
In the summer of 2007, the program expanded with the opening of a 20-apartment housing complex. The Freedom Recovery Center provides graduates with access to affordable, safe housing as they transition back into mainstream America. There they can reunite with their children and extended family and experience the support of other Next Door residents as well.
Thursday’s celebration begins at 6:30 p.m. in Allen Arena, 3901 Granny White Pike.