Nine years ago, Kristen Kohl’s life was much different. Her 2-year-old son died tragically in a firearm accident. Subsequently, she lost custody of her other two children, and their father was sentenced to 13 years in prison. Overcome with guilt and grief, she turned to drugs to escape the situation. She’d hit rock bottom.
In 2008, after going through a detox program in Fort Myers, she learned about Harvest House Transitional Centers, a social service in Sarasota that provides drug and alcohol treatment as well as transitional and permanent housing, and she decided to check in.
She graduated from the program and moved back to Fort Myers, but within a month of graduation, she relapsed and began drinking and using drugs again.
“I couldn’t function normally sober,” she says. “I just didn’t know how. I had a lot of shame and a lot of guilt.”
After continuing to struggle with addiction, Kohl made the decision to enroll in Harvest House again, and she was finally able to overcome her addiction. After recently graduating from the program, she says she’s found a new sense of hope and purpose.
“I learned a lot about myself,” she says. “It gave me an opportunity to heal. Today, I have this hope, and it’s amazing. I’ve been sober before, but I was just existing. Now, I want to give back and help the next person who’s hurting, because I know what that feels like. No matter what’s happened before, it doesn’t have to stay like that.”
Matthew Minor, director of development and community engagement, grew up immersed in Harvest House, which his parents founded in 1992. The center started as a six-bed drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility for men but steadily grew to offer services for both men and women, including case management, transitional and permanent housing, counseling, job application assistance and more.
“I love it,” says Minor. “It’s what fueled my passion of being able to make a huge difference. It’s a lot of work, but compared to the transitions these people make in their lives, it’s not a lot of work at all.”
BY THE NUMBERS
100 — Number of treatment beds
22 — Years since Harvest House was founded
To learn how you can help, visit Gulf Coast Gives.
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