The kitchen space at the Mercy Me Living Sober house is light and airy, and large enough for residents to make meals at home. COURTESY MERCY ME LIVING SOBER

A brand new recovery home for women in Beaufort will open Aug. 6 with a ceremony and a celebration of life for those who lost their fight with addiction.

Mercy Me Living Sober LLC is certified Medical Assisted Treatment (MAT) facility and is the second recovery home for women in the county.

In December 2019, founder James Fordham opened Hope House for Women who are recovering alcoholics. The new Mercy Me home will operate along the same lines, but with a medical aspect.

“We deal with certified medical-assisted treatment, which is prescribed by a doctor to help people in their early stages of recovery. There’s been a whole increase in drug-induced deaths, mostly fentanyl, and there’s no place for recovering addicts to go in this county,” said Fordham.

The women staying at the home and entering the program must get a job, pay rent, do chores, clean up their rooms, have a program sponsor, and be involved in service work in the community. There is an in-house manager who is onsite all the time.

“We encourage them to get involved with faith services, and we have in-house and local outside 12-step meetings as well,” Fordham said. “Residents of the home learn how to stay clean and maneuver personal challenges with effective tools for living. We send them to outside resources as needed, and we’ll bring counselors to the house. The only things different between us and Hope House is we deal with medications, and (residents) have to go outside to their doctors who handle the medications for them.”

A link to the intake application can be found on the nonprofit’s web page, Fordham said, but other applicants will be referrals from drug court for women coming straight out of jail.

“We’ve got six beds in the women’s house, and we hope to have the same in a men’s house ultimately when we open more houses as time passes,” he added. “We provide long-term care and the chance for freedom from the disease of alcoholism and drug addiction. This is a place for obtaining a new and sober life through our medically approved treatment program, appropriate medication and use of the effective 12-step program of Alcoholics Anonymous.”

Living in Mercy Me doesn’t come free. The residents pay $158 rent, and that covers utilities. They provide their own food but the house uses a local food bank, too, according to Fordham. Individuals pay for their own doctors who administer the medicines prescribed for the program. There is also limited transportation available.

The impetus for Mercy Me and the Hope Houses began several years ago.

Fordham, the owner of a local landscape company, felt compelled to action.

“I started sharing with other people what I thought God wanted me to do and started asking for help,” Fordham said, putting together what he described as a pretty good board of directors. “I found people who had more time than I had and people smarter than I was and people who had a little more money than I had.”

The fundraising then began through generous donations at church and other people in the community. They held yard sales, an activity that continues with people contributing gently used items. There are three Hope Houses, two of them for men.

The nonprofit also has plans to open a similar Mercy Me home for men in the near future. Fordham said addicts and alcoholics need more than just a place to get sober. They need to stay sober.

“We’re also applying for grants from the government so we can use the money to help with certain things. It’s hard coming out of jail broke, no job, no money, nothing but a small bag, but we’ve had some success stories who have come out on top,” he said. “What we need most is money, prayer, food, and clothing. The girls coming out of jail have nothing so we need support from the community to help with that.”

The grand opening and ceremony will be held at 1:30 p.m. Aug. 6 at 116 Elliot St., Beaufort.

For information about rent, rules or treatment call Fordham at 843-263-2520 or Gina at 843-941-9391, email info@mercymesober.org or visit mercymesober.org.

Gwyneth J. Saunders is a veteran journalist and freelance writer living in Bluffton.