SEASIDE - Restoration House sits quietly behind a traditional white picket fence and rambling, flowering vines.
Inside, male residents work to restore the scattered fragments of their lives. Most are recovering alcoholics and substance abusers.
The house, located at 208 N. Holladay, provides a safe and encouraging environment for men who need a sober and encouraging place to live. Restoration House is the only transitional facility in Clatsop County.
"This is a place that treats men with dignity," said Operations Director Susan Peterson. "It just makes you feel better to come to this beautiful place."
The home has a front yard, a deck with tomato plants, a comfortable living area, dining room, large kitchen, several laundry rooms and eight bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The house has room for 13 men and plans for an extra eight to 10 people each night for dinner. Occupants may stay up to six months at the house. Many then apply with Northwest Oregon Housing Authority to find inexpensive housing after moving out, Peterson said.
DonationsRestoration House is funded by grants, private donations, the city of Seaside and United Way. Very little funding is provided by the state. The Restoration House Thrift Shop, 201 S. Holladay Drive, also keeps the organization afloat. All contributions are tax-exempt and may be made payable to Restoration House, P.O. Box 641, Seaside, OR 97138. For more information about donations or volunteering, call 717-1102.Organizers choose to call the house a transitional facility rather than a halfway house because of the negative ideas attached to the word "halfway."
"There's an idea that things are only done halfway, or that things are only being done to a certain degree," Peterson said. "Transitional means help, growth. It means reaching out a hand, working to restore people."
Restoration House opened in December 2000 under the direction of founder Gil Davidson. Once a homeless alcoholic, Davidson wanted to offer a place where men could stay for varying lengths of time to transition into society.
The house does not offer substance abuse treatment and it is not equipped to help individuals with medical or mental complications. Residents must agree to abide by the house rules, which include random urine analysis, participation in a 12-step recovery program, house chores, curfews and participation in house meetings and activities.
"We require them to do house chores and cook because it helps them create structure," Peterson said. "Some of these guys have never done cooking or cleaning and it can really add to their self-esteem."
Residents are also required to pay $250 a month for rent. No resident is kicked out if he can't pay, but staff will keep him responsible to eventually pay his charges.
Peterson said that most residents are referred by Tualatin Valley Centers in Astoria, Clatsop County Behavioral Healthcare, Alcoholics Anonymous, local hospitals and the Clatsop County Corrections Department.
"I think that we, as a nation, go about recovery in the wrong way," Peterson said. "It's the Band-Aid effect. We throw lots of money at it. But it's really about educating them out of alcoholism. It's about people caring about people. Sometimes, that all it takes - one human being caring for another human being."