LAPORTE | A home in LaPorte to help female offenders stay out of jail and kick their drug addictions has been several years in the making with donations of money and labor now soaring above six figures.
If everything goes at the current pace, the nearly 5,000 square foot Worthy Women Recovery Home at 1001 Maple Ave. could open its doors by the end of the year.
Driving the effort is Sonshine Troche, 48, who came to the U.S from an orphanage in Germany in 1973.
She had her first drink of alcohol before she was a teenager.
Marijuana, cocaine and methamphetamines later entered her lifestyle and she remained drug addicted until about 19 years ago.
Troche, a former drywaller, has since given her life to God and wants to use the home to expand the positive changes in behavior she attempts with inmates at her full-time job as a counselor in the LaPorte County Jail.
"I figured if I could get sober so could they," said Troche, who set out on her mission for the home with all donations in 2006.
The facility that will house up to 14 women at once is being created inside a 1902 two-story brick house completely gutted after purchased by the not-for-profit Worthy Women Recovery group in 2011 for $40,000.
All of the new studs on the inside are nailed in place and other work like new plumbing and electrical wiring is nearly finished with help from donations of labor and major discounts on the price of materials from many supporters rallying behind the effort.
Troche said the home will be strictly for women with addictions following their release from the LaPorte County Jail and the two prisons for women in Indiana at Rockville and Marion.
She said the stay will be anywhere from six months to two years depending on severity and for many clients their residency will be ordered as part of their sentencing.
The home will also accept women who after their release went home to try and beat their drug addictions themselves but failed and showed up voluntarily.
Troche said a program used in other jurisdictions called Moral Reconation Therapy will be administered at the home to change destructive behavior from within.
The emphasis will include accepting responsibility, furthering their education, obtaining material things not through stealing but hard work and shedding light on what their lives can be from letting go of bad experiences of the past.
Also included will be the teachings of Christ to add momentum and staying power to the positive changes in thinking vital for breaking addictions, that so often cause people to steal to supply their habits, she said.
Troche said the MRT program will supplement the life skills she already introduces to the offenders at the county jail to reverse poor decision making.
"Most of the people we deal with have six or seven arrests apiece and we have to break that cycle," said Troche.
Troche said clients must work and pay $125 a week in rent to help with pay the estimated $200,000 in yearly operating costs that will be supplemented by donations and possibly from the courts.
The facility will be staffed around the clock with security cameras, but provide a healthy yet structured home setting with traditional amenities such as a living room, kitchen, dining room, laundry room and recreation area.
The women will sleep in dorms with two bunks apiece.
More than $110,000 all donated has been invested into the facility, so far, which could wind up costing roughly $220,000 when it's finished, said Troche.
There also have been more than 300 volunteers.
Troche said the home is needed because the nearest facilities similar to it for women are in Valparaiso and South Bend and other places that require transportation, something not all offenders have easy access to.
LaPorte County Prosecutor Bob Szilagyi said his office gave $10,000 in 2013 to the home and he's trying to come up with another $5,000 from his budget this year.
Support for the home has also been pledged from the courts looking for ways to reduce the number of offenders who keep violating the law.
"I've heard alot of good things about what she's done in the jail so far. It's just another way of doing something when it comes to the recovery of addicts," said Szilagyi.
Despite her past addiction to drugs and alcohol, Troche said she never spent time in jail but came close.
Troche later became involved with a Christian group that went into prisons to try and touch lives then after accepting an offer to mentor a female inmate she sensed what she's doing now was her full time calling.