Sometimes one destructive choice is enough to start a spiral through addiction, incarceration and homelessness. Passages Women’s Transitional Living in Rapid City teaches women caught in that cycle how to recover and rebuild their lives.
The nonprofit organization is hosting its second annual 5K Dash of Color on Sunday. The all-ages run/walk will open with a short worship service at 7:15 a.m. at Founder’s Park, followed by the run/walk from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. from Founder’s Park to Sioux Park. Pre-registration is $20 for ages 13 and older, $10 for kids 12 and younger, and includes a T-shirt. On-site registration is $25 for adults and $10 for kids, including a T-shirt, as supplies last. Proceeds support Passages’ day-to-day operations. To pre-register, go to getmeregistered.com/PassagesLiving5K.
Passages is one of only two-faith based programs in South Dakota that provides a safe environment for women who are newly out of incarceration, according to Dr. Marge Beam, Passages director. Women can live in the Passages house in a residential Rapid City neighborhood while they spend six to 18 months in the program.
Dash of Color and Passages’ annual fall fundraiser, Pies Plus, help support Passages’ day-to-day operations. Passages is not federally funded. The Passages program also is trying to raise $1.2 million for new facility in Rapid City that will accommodate 14 women, board member Jim Parry said. Board members and staff hope to break ground on the new building in spring 2020.
Passages incorporates Bible study, work, community service and education to help women become physically and emotionally healthy and break the cycle of repeat incarcerations. They take life skills and basic financial management classes, get a job and share in household chores. “If we support them now, there is a better chance we won’t have to support them in prison,” Beam said.
More than 100 women have gone through Passages since it launched in 2008. The program’s overall success rate is between 70 and 80 percent, said Beam, who describes Passages clients as wonderful women who made bad choices.
“Passages doesn’t just affect women in the program. The ripple effect is her children, her siblings, her friends, her community. They see changes in her and it encourages them that they can change,” Beam said.
Katie Root, 32, is one of Passages’ success stories. At 23, she started using drugs and became addicted to methamphetamines. For six years, she battled her addiction, went to treatment, went to jail and was homeless. When she became pregnant with her son, she stopped using drugs through sheer will power and inspiration she gained from attending church occasionally. After her son was born, Root starting using drugs again.
“One night, I knowingly chose to get high. It hit me how deep into my addiction I had gotten. I felt very hopeless. I remember crying out for someone to hold my hand and show me what to do,” Root said.
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The next day, she surprised herself by asking her boyfriend’s mother – her son’s grandmother – to take her son. Root was soon in jail again.
“I dropped to my knees in my cell on the third day I was in there and gave my life to Christ,” Root said.
The following day, Root’s mother told her about information she’d seen on TV about the Passages program. In May 2018, just released from jail and facing homelessness, Root entered Passages.
“Passages taught me what recovery acts like. It’s the difference between living clean and living recovered,” Root said. “It’s a place of healing. They reinstill in you your dignity. As an addict, you almost feel like you’re nothing. It’s such a fast spiral of using and a steep stairway back up. Every single person at Passages has been that hand to get me back up.”
After six months, Root moved into her own apartment and a few months later, she regained custody of her 2-year-old son, Jaxon. She is still in the Passages program as a non-resident, and she continues to attend Sunday life skills classes and Monday Bible studies.
“The thing I found with a faith-based program is the people … genuinely have a serving heart and want nothing more than to see you succeed,” Root said.
This month, Root will enroll in John Witherspoon College in Rapid City to start working toward her associates degree in humanities. Root hopes to become a faith-based counselor, as well as a transition coach for Passages so she can help other women with their recoveries.
“My story shows there is hope. I lost everything so many times,” Root said. “Never give up hope on anyone. It’s hard for families of people that are addicted. Never give up hope. I know I wouldn’t be who I am today without Passages.”
For information about Passages, go to passagesliving.com.