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Turning Point offers help for addicts in new apartments

Holcomb now works as program manager

POSTED: August 8, 2011 11:00 p.m.
TOM REED/The Times

Chance Castleberry, center, talks with two residents of Turning Point Recovery Resources in one of the organization's new apartments.

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In a halfway house that feels more like a jail than a place of recovery, addicts dream only of escaping and face a cold world once they leave.

At Turning Point Recovery Resources in Gainesville, recovering addicts live in spacious, pristine three-bedroom apartments with hardwood floors, granite counters, washers and dryers, and living conditions that rival upscale complexes.

Everyone in the program has to work, attend classes and undergo rigorous counseling, but they live in a place they can be proud of, said Chance Castleberry, president of Turning Point.

Once their year of treatment is up, many choose to stay and continue working, he added.

"It shows them they can live better," he said.

Castleberry, Turning Point CEO Rick Hamilton and program manager Michael Holcomb gave a presentation for the Rotary Club Monday about the program and its newest facility on Auburn Avenue.

Turning Point opened the complex less than three months ago, with eight apartments that can house 48 residents.

"This communal living is a powerful part of recovery. If someone is thinking about going out, they've got their group to support them. It reinforces accountability," Hamilton said.

Turning Point is funded by the men who live in the complexes and work and pay their own way, not state or federal funding or solicited donations, Hamilton said.

Beating addiction isn't easy, and neither is the program at Turning Point, but the facilities make it more bearable and raise the self esteem of the program's participants.

In fact, the complexes are sometimes the nicest places that Turning Point's participants have ever lived in, Hamilton said.

Castleberry agreed.

"I don't live in a place this nice myself," he said with a laugh.

There is still some space available in the complex, but Castleberry expects it will be full in another few months. And Castleberry knows about recovery programs. Growing up in a dysfunctional family that "traveled light and often," Castleberry fell into drugs and alcohol, then into jail.

After recovering from his addiction, Castleberry wanted to give back but needed help on the business side of recovery programs.

In 2005 Hamilton and Castleberry used their knowledge in finance and addiction to start five residential recovery homes.

"He had the financial means, and I had the street savvy," Castleberry said.

In January 2008, the Gainesville City Council approved Turning Point to build a four-unit apartment building on Erskin Avenue. That residence filled up quickly, Castleberry said.

"I went through many many rehabs all around and I never dreamed there was one this nice," he said.

Gainesville native Michael Holcomb went through one of Turning Point's residential recovery homes, and said the clean, safe environment helped him through his recovery.

"It gave me a stable, loving atmosphere," he said.

As a kid, Michael Holcomb was a rising high school football champ from the south side of Gainesville.

At a baseball practice when he was 11 years old, Holcomb received a blue baseball glove from Abit Massey, the current president emeritus of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation and programs co-chairman for the Rotary Club.

Holcomb didn't have a father at home and couldn't afford a glove, so he adopted Massey as a father figure and hid the glove under his mattress.

Holcomb and Massey fought back tears as Holcomb told his story at the Rotary Club Monday.

"It just did something to me, because that's something a dad would do to his kid," Holcomb said.

Holcomb continued his love affair with sports and got some attention from colleges to play, but decided to serve in the military.

But when he came home, there was nothing for him, he said. So he turned to drugs.

"I kind of fell in love with crack," he said. "I did fall in love with it."

Holcomb's journey of addiction carried him in and out of jail for the next 20 years.

While Holcomb was incarcerated, Castleberry encouraged Holcomb to get help for his addiction.

As the years crept by, Holcomb worried he'd eventually retire behind bars.

When he got out of jail, Holcomb entered the program with a bag of dirty clothes and $40 Castleberry loaned him, which nearly burned a hole in his pocket.

"If I had $5, I would go until I found a dope dealer that would take the $5 off me. That's the way I lived my life. But I went a week with those $40. I was so proud of myself, I kind of convinced myself I could do this."

But he made it through the week without buying drugs, completed the program and began working as a program manager for Turning Point.

For Holcomb, there's no turing back.

"God just put all the right people in my path," he said.

 



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