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MOTHERS' DRUG PROGRAM SAVED BRIEFLY

A small "last minute miracle" has staved off, at least temporarily, the closing of the Women with Children program at the Village in St. Croix.
An 11th hour commitment from sources that Program Director Karen Hunt asked not be named will allow the program to continue for another two weeks until April 15, according to program director Karen Hunt.
Hunt said the situation will be evaluated again at that time by the parent company, the Village, which is based in Florida.
WWC is the only residential treatment center for women with children in the territory. It has served women with substance abuse problems from all three islands for the last five years.
The program can serve up to 10 women and 30 children at a time, according to Hunt; over the years it has served 60 women and 110
children.
"There are a couple of beds available for women at the Village Virgin Islands Partners in Recovery program, but none for children," according to Hunt.
Hunt said the program has been funded for the last five years with a federal grant. The grant was never intended to provide ongoing support.
It is part of a national initiative that was started to help addicted women.
"It was found that women were not experiencing the same success rate as men where recovery was concerned," Hunt said. "We suspected it was because of the children. Women going into treatment centers had to leave their children behind — and with addicts any excuse will do to keep from dealing with their addiction."
The program was developed so women could be with their children as they started rehabilitation and recovery, according to Hunt.
For one addicted woman who got clean through the Women with Children program, it was definitely the children component that worked for her.
Barb (not her real name), who will celebrate two years clean next month, was homeless before entering the Women with Children program at the Village. Her two youngest children were in the Queen Louise Home for Children on St. Croix.
"Usually the people at Queen Louise take your children," Barb said. "But I took my children there. I had to."
She described the night she took her then 6-year-old and 1-1/2-year- old to the police station and asked for help.
"At first they didn't believe me, but finally they called for help. The baby
was not walking too well yet. I will never forget seeing that woman taking my baby in her arms and walking away with her."
Barb wandered around for a while, drugging and telling anyone who would listen about her "babies in Queen Louise Home."
"A friend of mine told me about the program for women and children at the Village," she said.
Barb didn't do anything right away. But she was obsessed with getting her children back. She described the nightmare of not having
her children with her and not finding any relief in the drugs she was using either.
"I used to go and visit the children at the home, and when visiting hours were up I would beg to volunteer there just so I could be with them," she said.
Barb said her friend kept telling her about the program and finally she went there and asked for an application. An appointment was arranged for two days later; she missed it as a result of her drug use.
"But finally I made it there and they let me in," she said. "When I went to the Women with Children program, I was like a soldier on a mission."
Barb said she would have done anything to get her children back. Finally, after three months of hard work, writing letters and interviews with various agencies, she did get them back. They lived with her at the
Village until she graduated in May 1998. She was there for a year.
Today Barb is clean and sober and attends regular after-care meetings and 12-step programs. She has a job, a home and her children.
"The Women with Children program is my foundation for my new life," she said. "Everything I have — my children, my job, my home — are all because of the
program."
Hunt said the funding from the original grant ran out March 31. She said in other areas of the country, the Women with Children programs have been funded with block grants to the individual states.
"But we don't get enough money in block grants here to cover it," she said.
Other funding has been identified and applied for, but the money won't come through until October. In the meantime if Hunt cannot get the $250,000 needed to fund the program through September, the doors of the Women with Children program are slated to close.
"I used to dream about just saying my prayers with my kids and doing the things with them that my grandmother used to do with me," she said. "My dream has come true."
Hunt said the emotional roller coaster she and other non-addict personnel have experienced in recent days over the potential closing must be what addicts talk about going through when they get clean.
"We tell them to trust the process and to 'turn it over,' which is what we've had to do," Hunt said. "We're still praying for a miracle — just like we tell our clients to do."
Donations can be made by calling 340-719-9900, 340-719-9800 or the WWC program at 340- 772-2224.

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