James House to reopen in new home in southwest Willmar
WILLMAR -- The James House isn't literally rising from the ashes of the home it lost following a lightning strike in 2017. But, it is rising again, this time with a new location and a change in mission.
WILLMAR - The James House isn't literally rising from the ashes of the home it lost following a lightning strike in 2017. But, it is rising again, this time with a new location and a change in mission.
"We do want to keep the James House going," said James House board chairman Dwayne Bonnema.
Bonnema, along with James House founder Gary VanEps, spoke at the Oct. 3 Willmar Planning Commission, who considered, and approved, a conditional use permit to allow the James House to operate a sober housing and addiction rehabilitation facility for women at 1809 19th Avenue Southwest, the former home of CTI Music Ministries.
"It will fit well with other care facilities in the area," said City Planner Sarah Swedburg.
The new location will at first provide housing and services for up to six women needing help to recover and overcome addiction.
"The facility is quite excellent for what we want to do," Bonnema said.
Gary Ambrose, who works for New Life Treatment Center in Lake Benton, spoke in support of the James House and its new direction. Sober housing can be quite difficult to find for women, he said.
"Sober housing, there is a lack. I think those beds would quickly be filled. The James House staff will do a wonderful job," Ambrose said.
The James House will have 24/7 supervision and continue to offer the faith-based treatment the James House has had success with.
"Everyone I know has come out in an outstanding fashion," said Planning Commission chairman Steve Gardner.
For over 15 years the James House provided sober housing for men trying to overcome addiction. In addition to safe housing, James House also provided faith-based services and programing for rehabilitation.
"It has been pretty successful," VanEps said.
The biggest challenge to the James House came on Aug. 21, 2017, when a lightning strike caused a fire at the home at 1423 Kandiyohi Avenue Southwest. The home sustained serious damage and was eventually torn down. At first the James House planned to rebuild, but has since gone in another direction.
With other options, like the Fortress, in Willmar to provide treatment opportunities for men, the James House wants to turn its attention to a less served population.
"It sounds like a strong need. Everyone I have talked to said there is a strong need," for housing for women, Bonnema said. "We hope to help many people there."
If the need grows, Bonnema said the James House is planning on upgrades to the new home, which would allow them to serve even more women in need.
"Willmar is a great place for people to get their feet back on the ground," Bonnema said.