Founded in 2005 by Val Cater in Atlanta, Georgia, Gilgal offers Christ-centered residential treatment and transitional living for homeless female alcoholics and addicts, ages 18 and older. Gilgal is a Biblical term, mentioned in Joshua 5:9, and is a place where the Children of Israel, led by the prophet Joshua, found refuge and a renewed faith in God. At Gilgal, there is the belief that by finding Christ, the women will heal from substance abuse and addiction, and find solace.
Accommodations and Food
The Gilgal facility occupies an entire street in south Atlanta, and includes two residential facilities and a main building. Gilgal accommodates 25 women, who are split between the Life Exchange Center, where primary care takes place and the sober living facility, where they participate in the Homeward Bound program.
Since space is limited, women must pack no more than two weeks worth of clothing, including khaki pants. The women are paired in double-occupancy rooms, which were renovated several years ago, by residents. Furnishings include twin beds, colorful comforters, dressers or armoires and closet space. Clients typically qualify for food stamps, which is used to purchase groceries. Gilgal also provides food and clothing.
Residents cook their own meals, or are assisted by staff, in fully equipped kitchens. Smokers are out of luck here. The entire campus maintains a strict nonsmoking ordinance. Phone privileges are limited. Clients are allowed one weekly phone call. Long-distance callers require a calling card. Staff members live on the premises.
Treatment and Staff
Potential clients must meet the following criteria. They must have already undergone detox, be homeless and suffer from addiction, and be mentally and physically fit and able to work. Clients receiving SSI are eligible, provided that they fit the above criteria. Upon admission, clients receive individualized treatment plans. Treatment length is a year, and is broken into two phases, including the Healing Program at the Life Exchange Center and the Homeward Bound Program.
The Healing Program is between four and six months. During the first 30 days, clients are not allowed any visitors, nor are they permitted to receive or send mail. After that, they are permitted to go off the premises on a limited basis. Gilgal employs a faith-based modality during treatment with the hopes that clients will substitute their addictions for lives dedicated to Christ. Weekly treatment includes case management, group and individual therapy, educational classes, meditation and Bible study.
Group topics include anger management and relapse prevention. During class, women are taught basic life skills including budget planning, time management, goal setting, issues in recovery, understanding relationships and vocational guidance. The women perform household chores, intensive yard work and other vigorous tasks. The day starts at 6:30 am, seven days a week. Attendance at 12-step meetings and/or Celebrate Recovery is required.
Clients who have successfully completed the first phase move into the Homeward Bound transitional living building. Length of stay is approximately six months. During this phase, residents continue therapy, as they actively look for outside employment and practice living independent lives. Aftercare includes a weekly forum where former residents discuss daily issues, challenges and successes. The group leader and participants provide support and feedback.
The admission cost is $50. Before residents begin employment, the 30-day cost is $0. After they start working, the 30-day cost is 30 percent of their gross salary or if on disability, 30 percent of their SSI benefits. The staff of ten includes case managers, LADCs, volunteers and administrative support.
Classes are provided for women who have suffered from abuse or domestic violence.
Gilgal relies on donations, volunteer support and fundraising events to maintain services.
This program is no joke, but it could be a godsend for those who really want help staying clean and sober. For financially challenged women who are down and out, Gilgal is a wonderful option. The atmosphere is structured, but supportive for those who need help getting the lives back on track.
PO Box 150777
Atlanta, GA 30315
553 Mobile Ave SW
Atlanta, GA 30315
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