As someone who has dealt with substance abuse and addiction both personally and while helping others with the disease, Ashburn resident Melissa Hinton has long seen the need for a recovery home serving women in Loudoun County.
About two years ago, she began the process of setting up a recovery nonprofit while working with The Community Foundation of Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties and 100WomenStrong.
Her determination and mission grew stronger after her 46-year-old sister, Rachel, died as a result of alcohol addiction last October.
“She was beautiful. She was my baby sister, and I miss her,” Hinton said.
The Loudoun Serenity House, a place Hinton says will provide hope for many women, is slated to open in Leesburg this fall. It is an eight-bedroom home where women can live in an affordable, structured and supportive environment while they receive coaching, mentorship and therapy to help them in their recovery.
“I have always been involved with helping people during their recovery. I have worked with a few women in the area and couldn’t find the resources or recovery houses they needed locally. There is nothing else like this in Loudoun County,” Hinton said.
According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 20.3 million Americans ages 12 and older battled a substance abuse disorder related to the use of alcohol or illicit drugs in 2018.
Hinton says a substance use disorder does not discriminate. It affects people from all walks of life and all age groups. Because of the stigma associated with the disease, people battling a substance abuse disorder suffer in the shadows, afraid to seek resources and ask for help, she said.
The Serenity House will be a place where women can live without judgment and receive the support they need, the founder said.
The nonprofit has received support through a seed grant from 100WomenStrong as well as guidance from The Community Foundation for Loudoun and Northern Fauquier Counties.
Amy Owen, president of the local Community Foundation, said Serenity House is a landmark addition to the nonprofit community in Loudoun County.
“There is nothing like it in Loudoun. So we told Melissa, let us serve as your financial home while you develop the plan and continue to fundraise,” Owen said.
Owen said normally her organization focuses on building permanent endowments, but there are circumstances where they will focus on a specific need in the community. Serenity House is an example of that.
“We are super grateful to be able to do it. This is unusual for us. We are approached often, and our board of directors recognized this was a significant need and void in the community. We applaud their professional approach and development of smart programming for the need, as well as focusing on the nonprofit business model and getting it right,” Owen added.
As a Level Two house, Hinton will be seeking accreditation by the Virginia Association of Recovery Residences.
Hinton plans to utilize state and county resources for residents, who will need to follow an application process to live in the home. The home will be available to Loudoun residents and others who meet the criteria, Hinton said.
“Some women are fearful of not having someone to trust,” she said. “This will be a place where they can learn how to live and work. We are looking to build relationships with employers who will help mentor women through recovery. Our goal is to work together with the community to be successful and not have another woman die alone.”
More information can be found at communityfoundationlf.org/product/serenity-house/.