A Journey to Joy

Rev. Bill Gohl, Delaware-Maryland Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Pastor Sara Yotter, and Meredith Wilkins join guests in a ceremony to dedicate the new Journey to Joy Recovery House in Edgewater. Photos courtesy of Joy Reigns Lutheran Church.

By Susan Nolan 

A new recovery center will allow mothers who struggle with addiction to get the help they need without sacrificing their relationships with their children. 

“It’s hard to be sober. It’s hard to be a mom. It’s hard to be a single mom, and it is really hard to be a sober, single mom,” says Meredith Wilkins, a Methodist minister, life coach, and mother of four. She’s the program director for Journey to Joy Recovery House.   

Located in Edgewater, the newly renovated four-bedroom, brick rambler belonging to Joy Reigns Lutheran Church looks more like a comfortable family abode than a residential facility. Soon, it will be home to women recovering from substance addiction and their children. The renovations to the property were largely funded by the congregation with additional support from an Anne Arundel County Community Support Grant and the Lutheran Home and Hospital Foundation. 

“We anticipate our first residents moving in sometime this month,” Wilkins says. The ribbon cutting ceremony and house blessing was held on October 9.  

According to Richard Wolf, chairman of the renovation project, the church owned the house and wanted to find a way to use the property to serve the community. “There are recovery houses for men and for women, but this is the only recovery house in South County where women can live with their children,” he says.  

Church members and organizers cut the ribbon on the new Journey to Joy Recovery House.

Joy Reigns Pastor Sara Yotter agrees. “We are delighted to be able to offer the first women’s and children’s house in South County.  Someone might be from South County, and it is good to stay in the area.  Or someone might need to move away from stressors and triggers in other parts of the county,” she says.  

While the house is church-owned and the program is church-sponsored, Yotter emphasizes that residents will represent the larger, diverse community. “This is a house available to all mothers of any race, sexual orientation, creed or background who want to continue on their journey to a sober abundant life filled with joy,” she says. The primary requirement is that residents not use drugs or alcohol and maintain sobriety.    

According to Wilkins, the ideal resident is someone who has completed a residential drug treatment program and is eager to be reunited with her minor children. Residents will pay rent on a sliding scale and some scholarships are available. The in-house program will include mentoring and workshops on life skills, parenting, and communication. Residents should continue attending support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous and counseling on their own.  

Residents may be referred to Journey to Joy by a drug treatment program or they may self-refer by calling the recovery house. For more information, visit joyreignslutheranchurch.org or call 410-305-9179.