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Woman's Fonda farm helping moms recovering from opioid addiction

October 04, 2018 06:45 PM

During this current opioid epidemic, few stories have emerged on how the epidemic impacts women in rural communities.

A missing necessity for working women is preventing these women from moving forward.  

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As I reported several months ago, when it comes to women, they are affected by drug abuse differently because they also have kids. Imagine trying to start a new drug-free life, but you can't reinvent yourself because of something like the lack of quality daycare. It's happening to women.

Jessica Eberle doesn't have great memories of growing up in rural Galway.

"I tried to fit in," she recalled.

Family problems made life hard.

"My mom was single, so it was really hard to keep food on the table. It was definitely difficult at home," she explained.

To cope with moving around a lot and starting over, she turned to drugs.

"I ended up getting into heroin," she admitted.

Taylor Barbour knows what it's like to have a troubled childhood.

"Ever since I was 13 until I was 18, I was bouncing back and forth between my mom and my grandma. My mom had a drug addiction," she remembered.

Growing up in Amsterdam, she dabbled in drugs too, hung out on the street and then became a mom.

"I ended up 13 and pregnant," she noted.

She became pregnant again at 17 and was spiraling out of control.

"When I turned 18, I ended up getting arrested and I went to jail," she explained.

It would be the best thing for her. It was in the Montgomery County Jail she met Patricia Brooking. She travels there weekly, offering comfort and introducing the young women to God. She would read verses from the Bible to them, trying to connect with them and let them know they can be forgiven.

Brooking knows where they're coming from because she's been there.

"I was homeless from the age 15 to 17, so I was in survival mode most of my teenage years," explained Brooking.

She hitchhiked across the country and says while almost at her breaking point, she was rescued.

"In Chicago, I was actually rescued from the streets by an organization called Jesus People USA," she recalled.

In 2012, she decided to give back -- give the homeless women leaving jail a place to stay. It was her home -- a seven-room working farm in Fonda that she called "Haven of Hope." There, women like Eberle could work, catch their breath and try and reinvent themselves.

"She let me into her house," pointed out Eberle.

Barbour says Brooking never judged her.

"Just being there, just being there for me," noted Barbour.

Haven of Hope helps keep women off the streets and teaches them job skills at an on-site bakery.

In order for them to stay away from drugs, domestic violence and negative influences -- and raise their kids and have a healthy, meaningful life, they needed a bridge to a better life. That bridge is daycare.

"It would be really cool to have a daycare right here," pointed out Eberle.

Unlike cities, daycare centers are almost non-existent in rural areas. Women have relied heavily on family. However, rural communities have changed. Barbour has to depend on herself now and has lost jobs because of daycare issues.

"If you're jumping job to job to job, it looks really bad on your resume," she explained.

So, Brooking -- who’s since moved from the farm, has now drawn up plans for a 24-hour daycare center with an infirmary right on the farm.

She needs money, laborers, supplies and volunteers, but she’s undaunted. She says she’s trying to change women’s lives.

"Maybe if I had her before all this, it would have changed my life significantly," admitted Barbour.


MORE INFORMATION: Haven of Hope Farm and Residence

Credits

Elaine Houston

Copyright 2018 WNYT-TV LLC, a Hubbard Broadcasting Company. All rights reserved

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