Former addict wants to help others by starting Howard County treatment center

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KOKOMO, Ind. - Nearly a year after getting clean, Joey Bennett is ready to help others get the same treatment that helped save his life.

Bennett said the idea came to him when he was ready to seek help himself.

"Opiates were the main thing," Bennett said. "Then I went to heroin."

In the summer of 2016, Bennett left his hometown and checked into the Home of Grace, a faith-based drug and alcohol treatment facility in Mississippi.

"The setting was serene and peaceful," Bennett said. "I was just able to reflect and deal with my problems. There was a rock bottom that I hit, that left me with a choice of wanting to attempt suicide. A feeling of hopelessness, I felt like I had no option.”

Bennett found an option that saved his life. Now, he's back home and has started up a non-profit, Valley of Grace, which he hopes to open in 2018 to help other men who have suffered like he once did.

“We’re looking to get a 16-bed facility," said Bennett. "To be operational, we need about $1.5 million dollars and we’re looking for land."

Ideally, the facility will be out in the Howard County countryside, on 30 to 50 acres of land, and provide a similar experience to what Bennett has in Mississippi.

It will provide treatment and transitional housing for 90 days, just like Bennett received last year.

“Essentially, they can go found their self and get right with God in the woods," said Bennett.

Valley of Grace still needs funds to come to fruition, but Bennett said he and his supporters don't plan to stop until a facility is built.

"My wife has been big in this," Bennett said. "She's always been clean. It’s our board members, it’s our community that’s really diving in because they see there is a need.”

In early July, the Gilead House opened, which houses up to 20 women. According to the organization's executive director, it's the only transitional housing for drug recovery in the county.

“Since we opened July 6, we have ten women who are alive today that might not have been," said Reba Harris, Gilead House's executive director. "Several of them have said, Ms. Harris, if you were not open I’d probably be dead by now because I was using that badly.”

Harris said she's already been in talks with Bennett and fully supports what he wants to accomplish.

“We need more than one or two," she said.

Valley of Grace is hosting a fundraiser on Friday, November 10. It begins at 6:30 p.m. at Celebrations in Kokomo.

Former Major League Baseball player, Barry Lyons, who also attended the Home of Grace, will speak at the event. The Home of Grace director will also speak about the program and how it works.

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