History of Gateway to Discovery
Gateway to Discovery (GTD) began as a dream of a woman named Jodie. Jodie, a recovering alcoholic herself, completed the treatment program at CFR (Community Family Resources) , but then had no place to go—that is, no place to go away from those influences which usually drive women to desperate means for survival. Fortunately for Jodie, in January 2012, she connected with Cana of Fort Dodge, a place where life and faith come together. Through encouragement and relationships developed there, through love, prayer and miracles, she found a place where she could continue her recovery locally– and longed for a way to help others in her situation. Rev. Barbara Huisman, the pastor at Cana, connected with a model recovery program—Magdalene House and Thistle Farms in Nashville, Tennessee—and the dream became grounded in a current thriving reality.
Gateway to Discovery was incorporated in July, 2012, and non-profit status obtained thereafter. The Board of Directors laid the foundation for a recovery program similar to Magdalene House in Fort Dodge, Iowa,—a 2-year residential program for single women, offering community living, at no cost to the residents, where love and grace flourish as agents for positive change. The program was to be privately supported by volunteers and donations from churches, individuals, businesses, service organizations and private trusts to ensure an emphasis on God’s central importance to recovery success. Spiritual growth is what those involved knew would truly make a difference in residents’ lives.
Through much work, prayer, education, vision, hope and fundraising, a house was purchased, refurbished, and furnished to provide a warm and livable space for residents. A Program Director, was hired in August, 2013, and on October 21, 2013, the first 2 women were welcomed into the home. By the end of 2013, there were 5 women living in the home; by the end of 2014, there were seven. The journey had begun for women to achieve personal success and confidence while maintaining lifelong sobriety—a place of “Hope Sweet Hope.”
In addition to housing, food, and counseling, there are resources for obtaining medical and dental care, education and job training without charging residents. The objective for the residents is to sustain sobriety while becoming self-sufficient, contributing members of society. Investments in Gateway to Discovery benefit not just one woman, but the entire community surrounding each one of them.
In April, 2014, GTD hired a Social Enterprise Coordinator, rented a space and opened Hope Sweet Hope Studios (HSHS), a place where the women work while in the program and can continue to work after they have completed their 2 years at GTD. As the women graduate into the working stages of the program, they receive a minimum wage as they learn work skills and financial lessons to prepare them to live independent, productive lives.
At HSHS, the women make one-of-a-kind handmade creations entirely from recycled products, shredded paper and discarded flower petals, producing something beautiful from waste materials, a metaphor for their lives as they become beautiful people from previous situations of hopelessness. Their creations tap into their creativity and have provided renewed hope and a sense of purpose in their lives.
In January, 2016, HSHS moved to a larger location at 1900 5th Av. S and began a line of bath salts and essential oils. The expansion provides space for multiple Social Enterprises to provide a variety of work and life experiences.
In October, 2015, GTD celebrated its first 2 graduates completing the program. In 2016, GTD began expanding to include women who have been human trafficked. Visions for the future include multiple homes in Fort Dodge, Iowa, to accommodate more women as well as a home for graduates of the program so they may more easily stay connected with the program even as they go out on their own to lead successful, sober, independent lives.
Gateway to Discovery / Hope Sweet Hope Studios is undergirded with prayer. We believe God has, is and will continue to guide the program even through the chaotic ups and downs inherent to working with this population of people.
GTD’s Mission Statement is “Offering Women a Sanctuary for Recovering in Community.” HSHS’s Mission Statement is “Hope in Recovery Through Living and Working Together.”