(KCPW News) Anita Neal thanks the Women's Treatment and Resource Center for changing her life. Three years ago, she was incarcerated for felony drunk driving. Now she's a licensed substance abuse counselor and is applying to graduate school to become a social worker and help other women struggling as she once did.
"I felt like a complete failure. I came from a family that had values and I felt I didn't have any value. I had zero self-esteem," Neal says. "And I met these women in that trailer, never knowing that this was their vision. And I'm so proud of it, because I got resources there. People don't realize it, but once you've been incarcerated, you don't know how to do things. You don't know how to get back into society."
The program has brought together 85 community partners to provide a variety of mental health, substance abuse, parenting, vocational and therapeutic programs for women leaving the state corrections program. In three years, it's helped 1,400 women transition back into the community.
Neal was one of the first women at the Orange Street facility to complete the program. It started in 2005 in a trailer parked behind the center. Yesterday, the WTRC celebrated the opening of its new $500,000 facility. Sharon Cox, who started the program, says she is proud to see how far it's come.
"The resources have come into play, the treatment has come into play, the funding has come into play, the agents have come into play, and now we're receiving national recognition as one of the leading meth resources for women in the United States – this little program, this little one-stop-shop in the back of Orange Street," Cox says.
Funding for the new, permanent WTRC building was appropriated by the Legislature as one-time money from the Division of Facilities Construction and Management budget.