Women’s sober home to open in Crow Wing County
The Lakes Recovery will be the first sober home catering to women in Crow Wing County.
BRAINERD — More than 600 Crow Wing County females received treatment for chemical dependency in 2020 and 2021.
For those women who did not have a safe or supportive home to return to following treatment, the housing options were extremely limited. While various sober homes exist throughout the county for men in recovery, the same resource is not available for women.
But that’s about to change
Amy Stone, along with fiance Jordan Thiewes and mom Margaret Stone, are gearing up to open The Lakes Recovery, a housing facility specifically for women in recovery, in northeast Brainerd — the first of its kind in Crow Wing County.
“This is a place where we are going to encourage productive citizens that are going to grow and change their lives,” said Margaret Stone during an interview Dec. 30.
The three are no strangers to that life-changing growth they hope to help foster in others, as they’re all in recovery themselves.
Margaret Stone has been sober for the past 17 years, while Amy Stone has five years of sobriety under her belt, and Thiewes has six. Margaret Stone’s father had been sober for 37 years when he died.
“It just runs in the family very strong,” Amy Stone said.
She and Thiewes have each gone through several treatment programs, and abuse of intravenous drugs actually stopped Thiewes’s heart twice. They’ve both overcome a mountain of obstacles and can now celebrate not only their sobriety but also their 3-month-old son, Chase, who they hope will grow up understanding addiction and having compassion for those who struggle with it.
“I’m excited to see Chase and the other children that they’ll probably have and how this is going to impact them,” Margaret Stone said.
Residents of the Twin Cities metro area, the Stones have been visiting family cabins in the lakes area for decades. Amy Stone and Thiewes plan to move up to Brainerd from Plymouth soon. They’ll live in the sober house with the residents until they can hire a house mother to live on-site. Margaret Stone plans to make the lakes area home after retiring in the coming years.
About the home
The trio purchased Burgstaler Boarding and Lodging on Fourth Avenue Northeast. The 14-bedroom home currently operates as a boarding house, a business the Stones and Thiewes are still running while they transition the facility over to their sober home and work with Crow Wing County to relocate the residents.The boarding house serves adults, both male and female, with income restrictions and disabilities but is not currently designated as sober living. While the boarding house will now serve only women who want to live in a sober environment, the Stones and Thiewes also purchased a three-bedroom house next door and agreed to rent it out to three men who had been living in the boarding house for several years and who wanted a sober place to live.
Slated to open as a sober house around mid-January, the main 14-bedroom facility will serve women who are willing to take an active role in their own recovery. Residents will be required to attend at least three meetings a week geared toward recovery, along with a mandatory weekly house meeting. Residents must also have regular contact with a sponsor or some sort of spiritual coach and be enrolled in school, maintain a job or volunteer in the community.
In return, The Lakes Recovery owners promise to create a supportive environment for their residents.
“It just changes people,” Amy Stone said of sober living. “You watch people come in broken, and they leave a beautiful, awesome member of society.”
Speakers from the community will visit the house on a monthly basis to share with the women their stories of strength and hope, two ideals Margaret Stone hopes to instill in the residents.
“There’s always hope for someone — always hope. Never give up. When you think somebody is at the worst they can be, there’s always hope for them,” Margaret Stone said.
Those using suboxone, a prescription drug that relieves cravings and withdrawal symptoms, will be accepted at The Lakes Recovery, but methadone will not be permitted. Methadone is a synthetic opioid that can be used to treat addictions to heroin and other opioids.
“I personally feel like that’s a little too much of a trigger for the people that are sober,” Amy Stone said.
While the house will only be open to women — and not their children — Amy Stone plans to support women who do have children in any way she can, and children will be allowed to sleep over one night a week.
“I understand that it’s very hard for moms to be away from their family and stuff,” Amy Stone said. “Now that I am a mother, I can’t imagine ever leaving my son, but you sometimes need to put yourself first and your life first because if you don’t do what you have to do, you will not have that family anymore.”
The home will be a place of second chances. If a resident is caught using, they will not automatically be kicked out of the house. There will be a house meeting for all residents to sit down and talk about the issue and how to move forward.
In 2021, 334 Crow Wing County females went into treatment programs, up from 280 in 2020. The numbers for men were higher at 583 in 2021 and 566 in 2020.
While not all of the women who complete treatment programs are necessarily scrambling for a place to live — as some can return home — others don’t have that luxury.
“We do feel like we have a need, for sure, for this type of service for women,” said Tami Lueck, Crow Wing County adult services supervisor.
The closest facility for women is a small sober home in Little Falls, Lueck said, and there are options in other neighboring counties, but none here in Crow Wing County.
“People that are from our community that are going through something like this — I think to have to go to a place that’s farther away from their home community can be really hard,” Lueck said.
Those who have visits with children, job opportunities or support systems in the lakes area might not want to take up residence elsewhere.
“It’ll be a very good thing for us to have this option,” Lueck said.
Supporting the cause
The Lakes Recovery has already been inundated with generous donations from the community in the form of furniture for the home or time spent fixing it up.
“The kindness of people in this area has just filled our hearts beyond belief,” Margaret Stone said.
But the need is still there.
A GoFundMe for the sober home is available at gofundme.com/f/the-lakes-recovery .
Anyone interested in donating time, services or other goods to The Lakes Recovery can reach out to Amy Stone at email@example.com .
The owners know their venture might not be the most lucrative one, especially not right away, but are committed to doing their part to show addicts there is hope for them and to show others that those with addictions are people, too.
“No one chooses to be an addict,” Margaret Stone said. “... It’s not that addicts are bad people. No one wakes up and says, ‘I think I’m gonna ruin my life by being a heroin addict.’ It doesn’t happen that way.”
And, again, there is hope for those committed to changing their lives.
“They will have a strong support system at The Lakes Recovery,” Margaret Stone said.
THERESA BOURKE may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa.