INSPIRATION MINISTRIES … These folks traveled to Bryan, Ohio on August 18, 2022 to be there as a presentation was made for this new ministry coming to Williams County. From left to right are Mark Yeager (Director of Operations for Noble County), Michelle (Director of Women’s Ministry) and Don (Chairman of the Board and DeKalb County Jail Chaplain)Harvey, Andrew (Founder and Director, goes by Andy) and Kirsten (Andy’s wife and mother of their four children and Director of Marketing and Design) Foster, Mary and Victor Juarez (with Never Let Go Ministries), and Nic Patterson who was spending two days observing, from Jacksonville, Florida. (PHOTO BY REBECCA MILLER, STAFF)
By: Rebecca Miller
On Thursday morning, August 18, 2022, the founder and CEO of “Inspiration Ministries”, Andrew Foster along with a number of those who serve in this ministry, met with Williams County officials for an information session.
Present for the meeting were Sheriff Tom Kochert, WC Commissioners Brian Davis (who set up the meeting), Terry Rummel and Lew Hilkert, incoming Commissioner Bart Westfall, Assistant Prosecutor Stacey Stiriz, Mary and Victor Juarez with “Never Let Go Ministries”, and Nic Patterson who was here from Jacksonville, Florida, shadowing Foster for two days.
Traveling from their base in Indiana to the Williams County meeting with Foster were his wife Kirsten, Don and Michelle Harvey and Mark Yeager.
Foster expressed their pleasure that Mary and Victor Juarez and Nic Patterson were there in support of what they are doing and to learn more about the ministry.
Foster is an exuberant man, full of energy and joy which poured out of him as he gave a quickly spoken breakdown of what Inspiration Ministries is all about and how they came to be in Williams County.
Recently, they were sharing on a Sunday with Central Mennonite Church in Archbold, just to spread the word and with no intentions of launching services in Ohio, Foster shared.
That afternoon as they drove around the area, they saw a property that is for sale near Stryker and things have moved very quickly since that day.
The property is 42,000 sq. feet and the process began moving with a signed lease agreement, with the intention of trying to leverage state or federal funds to purchase the property.
It will be a Certified Recovery Home with lots of staff, starting with 24 to 25 beds at the beginning. There is work that needs to be done but the work is achievable within 12 to 18 months, what they are calling Phase 1.
“We want to help and we are willing to help,” Foster said to the officials gathered. “I am not here to convince you that we are the best or that we are perfect, or that we haven’t had hurdles or faced controversy, but we have been incredibly fortunate over the last ten years to see results and proven data of increase in recovery, low recidivism and community transformation.”
He went on to explain about the ministry, saying that they desire to be transparent and work with the systems so that people can be successful.
The website tells the story about their programming and their houses in North East Indiana. He inserted that they just got notification that they are now a registered business in Ohio.
They have been opening Certified Recovery Residences since 2017 and will fit well into Ohio as they have the same standards. In just two short years of ministry, they were nominated as one of the Best Recovery Programs in the state of Indiana in 2019.
They have ten Certified Recovery Residences in Indiana, and 24 Certified Recovery PEER Specialists on staff as it is proven that people in hard situations relate best to someone who has been through it also.
So, they see themselves as a Recovery Community Organization. Their Logo says “Transformed Lives Transform Communities” and the group is trauma informed, evidence based, peer driven, recovery oriented, and faith based.
Foster spoke of how those who have recovered from drugs and alcohol or incarceration and are ready to get back into the community, are buying homes and settling down and helping others, much to the amazement and joy of the leadership in their communities.
Butler, Indiana has had the dynamic of their community “completely changed” since they established Recovery Housing there. He shared a number of details of what they have done in Butler since they started buying properties and turning them into recovery housing.
Foster went on to say that much more than just getting people sober and clean, this program is about Re-entry as a great citizen where ever they live.
They work with employers, help people get settled with some buying homes when they never thought that would be a possibility for them, train them in financial stability, and so much more. They have seen “tremendous results.”
“We want to shoot thriving people back in the community,” Foster said, adding “Let us do what we do best.”
Recently they got a grant from the Office of Certified Recovery Housing and are building recovery homes for graduates of their program. In Kendallville, Indiana they are setting up Recovery Access Camp with 24 beds for men.
The closest Recover Home to Williams County is 45 miles away and CCNO is four miles away from the property near Stryker. They hope to become a regional place of hope.
Less than 15% of those who graduate go back to their previous lifestyle, since 2017. That goes to 0% for residents who are in supportive housing! They have realized that housing Graduates of the program is a “game changer.”
This has become a top priority and they have launched a Coffee Shop for jobs with three apartments above for them to live. They have purchased a number of other houses as well to house graduates and help them continue in their progress.
This is helping them move on and not reengage in the justice system. In less than three years they are seeing happen what you might think would take thirty years.
Foster stated with confidence, “This is Achievable.” He hopes that with advocacy and spreading the word, Inspiration Ministries will be able to come alongside NWO and be a benefit to the community. Q&A brought out the following thoughts:
- This will be for adult men, 18 and up
- Funding without cost to residents is possible as they raise a lot of funds.
- There is a residual benefit as the families are greatly affected by their fathers’ lives being changed
- Will try to keep it for Williams County residents at first, but could possibly become a regional resource (Toledo is not part of this Region) (Commissioner Hilkert recommended that they present to Region 16 Board and said he will get information on when that can happen.)
- Plugging in with area law enforcement and the court system is definitely one of the ways they are able to help.
- They are not against incarceration as they “recognize the need for that, but are there as a transition out.”
- Potentially open by August of 2023
- They serve on two Drug Free boards in two counties in Indiana
- Ohio money will be kept separate from Indiana money, so local money is helping local people
- The program is initially nine months long, but graduate housing is also needed to help make it really take effect
- The thought came up about the possibility of the courts sending someone, who requests Inspiration Ministries, to that facility instead of to jail and they said they do hope for that to happen. (Brian Davis said that this might be a financial benefit to the county as many of those housed at CCNO are repeat offenders, and going to this facility instead would be more helpful for the offender and cost less for the county.
- They “protect the environment”, so willingness on the part of those coming to their facilities is most effective.
- 60-65% of those who start, complete the program
- Most of the people in the program are in their late 30’s and early 40’s and very desirous of change.
- Interacting with graduates who are celebrating their recovery helps them to see it is possible.
- In the future, this building, with a repaired treatment plan, there is a possibility of 100 beds, but without the plant they can still shoot for 49 as a cap. “We want to maximize that building and that property,” Foster said.
- The building is well centered for the four counties.
In the interest of transparency, Foster shared a handout with the names of the Board of Directors and the Financial Impact review.
Serving on the Inspiration Ministries Board of Directors are President Andrew Foster, Vice President/Treasurer Don Harvey, Secretary Michelle Davenport, Tasha Eicher – Parkview DeKalb CEO, Matt Fetter – Metal Technologies CEO, Marc Chamberlain – Financial Advisor, AAMS, Scott Pflughoeft – Ashley Industrial Molding CEO, Anthony Ponds – manager of Cupbearer Café, Jeff Turner, Esq., and Dr. William Culp.
Their total program expenses run around $1,190,000, with total income at $1,361,000 coming from individuals, churches, businesses, grants, treatment services, housing services, social enterprise and miscellaneous income.
Their Home base is at 138 East 7th St., Auburn, Indiana and the website is www.inspiration-ministries.org. Their theme is “Reaching the Least, the Last, and the Lost,” and they are looking forward to working here in Northwest Ohio.
Rebecca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org