Greg interviews Erin Helms, the Executive Director of the Woodrow Project located in Parma, Ohio. The mission of the Woodrow Project is to provide a safe, stable and supportive environment for women in recovery. Gina and Andrea join Erin and Greg for the interview. Gina is a Recovery Support Specialist at The Woodrow Project, while Andrea is a current resident at the recovery house.
Erin explains that Ohio Recovery Housing has three different levels of recovery housing: level one, level two and level three. She then discusses the typical skill set seen at each level. Level three is considered a halfway house, for those in the full grip of addiction who are struggling to make it through the day. Level two is for those who are farther along the journey to recovery, typically holding down a part-time job and using good judgment with their finances. Level one housing is for those who have maintained a long period of sobriety, perhaps a part of a 12-step program or sponsorship program.
The group discusses important criteria to consider when selecting recovery housing. Erin suggests looking at the turnover rate of the house. She explains why a high amount of residents with short stays at the house is bad. “If there are always openings, it’s because people are always relapsing, or people are always breaking some type of rule,” she says. This could indicate a less-than-ideal recovery environment. Erin also suggests looking at how the staff treat the residents. Do the residents seem happy? “[Recovery housing] should look like a home,” she says. “It shouldn’t feel like an institution.”
Erin talks about the experiences of women who enter her community. She discusses the genuine laughter, bonding, and fellowship enjoyed by the women at The Woodrow Project. “Going to meetings together, doing things like carving pumpkins…those type of activities that sometimes people take for granted. There was a whole group of women that went camping one summer. They’ve done things like go to Cedar Point together…They would never have those opportunities if they weren’t in recovery.”
Erin Helms is the Executive Director at The Woodrow Project, recovery housing for women in Lakewood, OH. She is an independently licensed chemical dependency counselor in the State of Ohio. Ms. Helms completed her undergraduate education at The Ohio State University and earned her master’s degree in Addiction Counseling at Hazelden Graduate School of Addiction Studies. She has been employed in a variety of settings ranging from Franklin County Health Department to working as primary counselor in both the inpatient and outpatient settings at Glenbeigh Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center. Erin is passionate about advocating for persons in recovery. She is a member of The National Alliance Recovery Residence advocacy committee, Faces and Voices of Recovery Public Policy Committee, Cuyahoga County Opiate Task Force, Ohio Recovery Housing Treasurer and Northeast Ohio Recovery Residence Network board member.