RWO hosts Halloween celebration


Children of Restoring Women Outreach residents painted these pumpkins at the RWO Halloween party Sunday evening. (Christy Perry for The Cullman Tribune)

CULLMAN –  Local nonprofit Restoring Women Outreach celebrated Halloween Sunday night at Hope House. Current participants, graduates, families and other supporters gathered for fellowship, food and traditional Halloween activities.

The organization’s director, Summer Burden, said, “It’s just a fun event for everyone to come together with their families and relax and enjoy themselves. We are having a great time.”

Restoring Women Outreach was created in 2011 to offer women battling addiction a safe place with a structured program for a path to a new life without drugs and alcohol. Hope House is one of the six houses of RWO. Each of the houses is meant to give the women a stable, home-like environment while they recover, and program members are given all the tools, resources and support they need on their journeys to sobriety. Women in the program start in the Hope House, where they start the process of restoring their lives, setting goals for themselves and becoming stable. Living in this house includes confirming court dates, attending 12-step program meetings, GED classes, counseling sessions, budget and goal setting workshops, and workout programs.

Five of the six RWO houses were donated by the late Dorothy Frady. 

Sunday’s party was organized by the women in the program. Their children were enjoying the giant inflatable slide, pumpkin painting and bobbing for apples. The previous night, the women got together to make food, decorate and plan the party in anticipation of seeing their families. 

Program graduate Betty Dunn, who now works for the organization, expressed her gratitude saying, “I came to Hope House when it first opened in 2013. I am four years sober now and have my life back.”

Dunn’s grandparents-in-law, Donald and Joan Dunn, have become heavily involved since Betty entered the program. Known by everyone as PawPaw and MawMaw, they invite participants to come stay with them during weekend passes and holidays.

Said Joan Dunn, “We love these women and they have come to our home, just like family, to play games, fishing, or just a safe loving place to stay.”

Chelsie, another graduate of the program, is now two years sober and doing great. She now stays with the Dunns and continues to attend after group meetings.

Chelsie explained, “The hardest part can be when a woman graduates. That’s when the rubber meets the road. When in the program you are always in a safe environment and surrounded by constant support. Afterwards, it’s up to you to use what you learned. I had the skills but no place to go. MawMaw believed in me and let me rent a trailer on their property.”

Joan Dunn said of Chelsie, “We are so proud of her and all our girls!”

RWO defines its mission as, “a 12-step based yearlong program created with the vision and purpose of helping ladies whose lives have been damaged by the disease of addiction. It is our mission to rehabilitate these lives through our program and provide these women with the resources and skills needed to move forward in their life and re-enter society as a positive confident woman.” 

Burden shared, “We have a 74 percent success rate. That is very high. Our residents are in 12-step programs, anger management, parenting classes, and involved in ‘ready to work’ programs through Wallace (State Community College).”

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