By Anna DeWine-Bolton
XENIA — Not one bed was available.
So Whitney Caudill, just a couple months into her new job at Children Services, took her 26-year-old client to a hotel where she would help her detox.
The two spent the week there, traveling back and forth from hotel to hospital. Caudill would help the young woman get the heroin out of her system, watching her go through a physically painful period of withdrawal.
All because, that night, there wasn’t a single bed open in treatment centers around the state.
“That Sunday evening I had gotten a call from her mom and she’d said, ‘Hey, she’s going to die tonight if she doesn’t get help’,” Caudill recalled. “So I met them at her house. She was 30 pounds lighter.”
Stories like the one Caudill tells echo across Ohio.
“She was addicted to any drug she could get her hands on … She was getting evicted from her house, she was literally homeless,” Caudill said. “I got to know her and she was totally lost and broken … she wanted help, she just had nowhere to go.”
At the end of the week, Caudill knew she had to do more.
“When I was driving away that night, I knew 100 percent that the Lord was telling me, ‘You can do something’.”
So Caudill did something.
She calls it “HerStory.”
Although still in its beginning stages, HerStory Inc., has come a long way since its conception as scribbles in Caudill’s notebook.
The first HerStory House, set to open in Xenia in spring, will act as temporary emergency housing. It will be a home for women in Greene and Montgomery County who are experiencing homelessness, battling drug and alcohol addiction, and seeking healing from trauma.
The priority of the program will be to get women off the streets and connect them to hospitals or treatment centers that will take them through the detoxification process.
“While they’re waiting for a bed to be open for treatment they’ll stay with us,” Caudill explained.
HerStory will provide a safe home for the women after detox and connect them with treatment centers. Caudill’s focus is to ensure these women not only have the physical and medical help that they need, but also that they are given care for their mental health and emotional well-being.
“Then, we’re going to follow them through treatment and make sure they have a place to go for recovery after treatment,” Caudill continued.
The length of stay in the HerStory House could vary from four days to 30 to 60, depending on the individual and the case.
But before Caudill can make beds available in the first HerStory House, she claims there are many people working behind-the-scenes to make it happen.
This includes her team of seven board members, who she says are “excited and ready to go.”
And one organization in particular, 100 Women Making a Difference in Greene County, that recently contributed $10,000 to the cause.
The 100 Women group presents a donation to a different local charity every four months. The charity is chosen through a process involving 5-minute speeches, questions and answers, and a final vote. This time around, one of the members, Libby Hammond, presented HerStory to her peers.
“I told them that this is such a good thing for us because we’re getting in on the ground floor and helping you start it,” Hammond recalled to Caudill. “I thought that was huge. I told them, ‘We need to do this. We need to help this person’.”
The contribution from 100 Women will cover the cost of rent for one year for the first HerStory House in Xenia.
“That was huge. So now we’re tw0-thirds of the way funded for our first year,” Caudill said.
Caudill’s goal is to raise another $20,000 for the first year, which will cover emergency expenses and miscellaneous costs like helping a woman get insurance or a driver’s license.
The “pilot year” for the program will be completely volunteer-based and a “learning experience,” Caudill says. And the need, she adds, is crucial, as there is no other emergency housing specifically for these women in the Dayton area.
“The biggest need is right now. The drug epidemic is right now,” Caudill said, adding that Dayton is number one in the nation for drug overdoses.
“The sooner we can get our house open and ready, the sooner we can serve these women,” Caudill continued. When they’re ready to get help, we need to be ready to help them. When they hit rock bottom, we have to be ready to go.”
To find out more about HerStory or to donate, check out HerStory Inc. on Facebook or go to www.herstoryhouse.com.
Reach Anna DeWine-Bolton at 937-502-4498.