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Texas woman offers free journey to recovery for those dealing with drug addiction

Tell us about a woman in your life who inspires you.We have gone through hundreds of nominations Amazing Women’s Contest. We are now sharing the stories of our finalists.

Marble Falls, TX (KXAN) — In the quiet Marble Falls neighborhood just a few streets away from downtown lies the small, unremarkable home that has been the epicenter of change.

Paula Mays smiling with friends at an event. (Courtesy: Paula Mays)

As wind chimes rustle in the breeze, visitors immediately feel calm outside the home surrounded by signs of love, patience and kindness. Similar messages of hope and reassurance are posted inside the house, laying the foundation for the story. Open Door Recovery House and its founder, Paula Mays.

“This world would be a better place if we could love each other, encourage each other, not judge or throw stones, and walk together,” Mays said.

This is part of the mission of Open Door, a religiously based home for calm women that opened in 2010. During her 13 years, Ms. Mays has housed more than 250 women free of charge for up to a year on their journey to recovery and sobriety.

Paula Mays and friends painting items for the Open Door Recovery House. (Courtesy: Paula Mays)

To better understand why Mays has dedicated her life to open doors and women and men struggling with drug addiction, we must first understand her difficult personal journey.

“I was in South Dakota and within a few years my mother married an abusive man. My earliest memory was being sexually assaulted when I was two years old. I was beaten. I was locked in the trunk of the car,” Mays explained. “It was terrifying. I didn’t know much about God, but I knew the devil and felt like I was living with him.”

She thought her life would change by the time she got older, but it didn’t.

“In my 20s, I started looking for other substances to change the way I felt and help me cope,” Mays said.

In 1999, she found herself in prison after serving a 99-year sentence. At the time, she was married and divorced, and she had six children. She said, by the grace of her God, the federal charges she was facing were dropped.She was moving to Texas, which she said helped her wean herself off drugs and alcohol. say. She began attending her 12-step recovery meetings and joined church.

“I was able to rebuild with God.

She started working with women in soup kitchens and prisons, in the same recovery programs. That’s when she met her three women who were having a hard time drinking. She remembers they had no place to stay and no support system. Death or prison was the only way out.

“I thought, ‘These women need a place to go.’ They need a safe place,” Mays tearfully recalled. Without struggle, recovery is hard enough, and God reminded me of the runaway shelter I lived in when I was a teenager.”

Paula Mays feeds people in need with the help of volunteers. (Courtesy: Paula Mays)

It was her safe haven and she wanted to create something similar for other women. It was. By initiating an Open Door is to convey her message of hope and recovery.

It all started with a small meeting at a church, and by 2013 a house had been purchased, the campaign had paid off, and the doors were open to women in the community. Through community grants and donations, Open Door Accommodates up to 8 women at once, free, up to 1 year. Mays uses the AA Big Book, Bible Studies, and other programs to guide women from lifestyles of addiction to lives of sobriety, functionality, and productive membership in society.

“We walk by them. We root for their struggle. We walk with them through CPS, probation and parole,” Mays explained.

Women start early in the morning on a structured schedule that includes weekly meetings and studies to manage their recovery. Women are also required to volunteer 17 hours each week. Mays has only a part-time office manager and a part-time assistant, performing all duties with little paid assistance.

Major impact

Alicia DeFranco said Open Door changed the trajectory of her life.

Alicia DeFranco and two daughters. (Credit: Alicia DeFranco)

“This is my home. This is my foundation. This is where I learned how to be human,” said DeFranco. “I started using it when he was 10 and was a complete heroin addict by the time he was 17.”

DeFranco was a fugitive and lost custody of his children by the time he moved to Texas.

“I was so broken. I was so broken,” DeFranco said.

She was in Uvalde’s correctional facility when someone told her about Open Door. She wrote to Mays asking her to join the program. Mays picked up the released DeFranco, took him out to dinner, and took him to the open door.

“It was a relief to know I had to stay sober longer,” recalls DeFranco. She said, “She was expecting a rehab center, but when I walked in, it was home. She showed me my bedroom and bathroom and took me to dress her. I was overwhelmed when it happened.”

Defranco paid nothing during his time at Open Door.

“I never had a need that wasn’t met here,” DeFranco said.

After months of inner healing at Open Doors, she was sober and was able to begin a new journey with her family.

“I couldn’t imagine it. I couldn’t imagine it at all. I bought my first house last December and it’s been supporting my kids and me financially for five years,” DeFranco said.

Alicia DeFranco posed for a photo with her two daughters. (Credit: Alicia DeFranco)

“What a miracle she is. There are so many miracles out there—they just need someone to walk by them,” Mays said. Don’t give up on those you love.”

DeFranco says Mays is not only her hero, but a hero to many women who are forgotten and unsupported by their families and communities.

“She’s my motivator. She’s my backbone. She’s my foundation,” said DeFranco.

“If you see any glory in my story, it’s God. It’s all about him. He’s doing the hard work,” Mays said. “I’m so grateful to have survived, because by all accounts I shouldn’t have.”

According to data from Open Door Recovery House, the non-recidivism rate for women who lived in the house last year (September 2021-September 2022) was the highest ever at 85%. The year before last it was 80%. Many former residents say it helped them understand that they were the only ones responsible for their actions. They learned the tools to make better, healthier decisions.

Paula Mays teaching the community about the resources Open Door provides. (Courtesy: Paula Mays)

Mays also helps women recover children from CPS and foster care. She is also a key member of the 33rd and 424th District Drug Court Teams. She is often “on call” 24/7. She picks up new women from rehab facilities and prisons in Austin, Dallas-Fort Worth, San Antonio, Galveston, and more. If a woman leaves the program early by breaking the rules or just walking away, she will help find other support.

Her job is mostly Funding through donations and grantsshe hopes to expand to help more women across the state.

https://www.kxan.com/news/local/hill-country/marble-falls-woman-provides-free-journey-to-recovery-for-those-dealing-with-drug-addictions/ Texas woman offers free journey to recovery for those dealing with drug addiction

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