Fraternity volunteers time for service project

Members of Lambda Alpha Chi focus their efforts on readying the New Life House in Durant, a halfway house for women seeking long-term recovery from alochol and drug addiction. Volunteers shown are Josh Smith, Seth Hamilton and Aaron Cathey.

David Reagan, Staff Writer/Photographer

On Oct. 28, the men of Lambda Chi Alpha volunteered their time and efforts to paint the exterior of the New Life House on the corner of Eighth and University.

The New Life House is a newly opened halfway house for women and the first of its kind in Durant.

Lambda Chi Alpha’s initiative for the New Life House is a part of their group projects geared toward getting out in the community and giving back in ways that matter and directly make an impact on the citizens of Durant, said Roberto Aguilar, president of Lambda Chi Alpha.

According to Aguilar, Lambda Chi Alpha’s philanthropic intentions are “to show, by their actions rather than words, the fraternity’s emblem of the lion and the rose, symbolizing the ideal of strength protecting innocence,” as they believe men in the community should do.

According to fraternity educator Josh Smith, “Service and stewardship [of the community] is not only important but considered a quality which we as a fraternity hold very dear and wish to teach all of our members on a regular basis so that they can truly learn how to become responsible men by learning to serve and care for the needs of others.”

The New Life House is a program to provide an alcohol- and drug-free environment in which women who are seeking long-term recovery can seek help and find companionship that encourages sober living.

The entire project’s undertaking has been spearheaded by the current house director Suzie Hicks and brought about entirely through the collaboration and donation by many individuals in the community.

Literally everything in the house from the carpet, pipes, countertops and furniture to the manual labor was donated. In January a house was donated, and as Hicks said, “The rest is history.”

The program gives the women guidelines to follow such as restrictions on curfew, prescribed drugs, visitors and alcohol.

The women must undergo regular drug testing, must work to pay a portion of the rent and must eat together as a household.

The New Life House is now officially open and accepts applicants who are truly seeking help from the community.

According to Hicks, the idea came to her from God while in a nine-month rehab in 2006. “I knew in my heart that I could return to Durant, stay clean and be able to help other women do the same,” she said. “However, my friends, family and the community itself had their doubts.”

Hicks explained that she had to work hard to prove herself to everyone. “I had done nothing but wreak havoc in people’s lives for many years,” she said. “God changed my heart, and I began to want to make amends to the people I love and give something back to the community.”

After graduating from treatment, returning to Durant and starting the 18-month drug court in 2008, she began to work on the project. “We formed a corporation and made it non-profit,” said Hicks. “Then we formed a board and began working on ideas.”

“This is really such a great program, and we will be serving the community in a bigger way than we may ever know,” said Paden Ferguson, vice president of Lambda Chi Alpha. “The opportunity to merely be a part of that by helping out, in any way we can, is something I didn’t think twice about.”

For more information on New Life House, contact Hicks at 984-1305 or 924-2980.

Photos by David Reagan