Hearthstone began with an informal meeting of six members of the recovering community in the fall of 1980. They felt there was a need for men’s halfway house and set to work. They decided to open a facility as soon as possible and to clearly define the goals and objectives. It was decided to:
The first name chosen was The Lawrence Transitional Center Inc. The original incorporators were Bob Graves, Link Hughes, Rex Keith, Jack Landreth, Roy Neal, and John Weatherwax. In January of 1981 Fred McElhanie was President and the name of the organization was changed to LAWRENCE ALCOHOLIC RECOVERY HOUSE INC. From the beginning it was decided that it would be a not for profit corporation and that none of the board of directors would be remunerated in any way. The only person to be paid was the cook. Since the formal name of the corporation was so long Hearthstone was chosen as the "everyday name."
One of the founders, Roy Neal, had some prior experience with halfway houses and he compiled the "house rules" and "recovery agreements." Many people in the recovering community made contributions to get Hearthstone started. Volunteers on the first board worked to get all the legalities taken care of, articles of incorporation written and registered with the secretary of state etc.
It was recognized that the people that the board was trying to help would in many cases be destitute and might take a while before they could get a job and pay their own way. Therefore ongoing sources of funding were needed. They decided to avoid entanglements with State and Federal funding and rely on local sources instead. The Rice foundation, Plymouth Church, 1st Presbyterian Church and the Lutheran Church helped out up until the mid 90’s.
In 1983 one of the board members kept track and found that the residents paid 42% of Hearthstones operating budget. The first facility was located at 1132 Ohio in Lawrence, Ks. It was leased to the board of directors by Jack and Betty Landreth at a reduced rate. It opened its doors in Feb. 1982 and its 1st resident was one Charlie C. a well known local character. He was, by default, house manager and cook. Not long after that the fire dept found Tony P. asleep on their couch. They called Roy Neal, The first director of Hearthstone, and we had our 2nd resident.
The house meetings were run by Jack Landreth, Paul Smart, Roy Neal and Fred McElhanie. Men of every description came and tried to begin a program of recovery. Some were just kids who’d had a bad experience and wanted to get into a clean environment for awhile. Others ran the gamut of human experience. Some stayed a few days, some a few weeks and others several months. One fellow was there for two hours and left without his suitcase. Others have lived there for as long as 2 years. Several men have attended college while living at Hearthstone with some completing degrees and graduating. Others couldn’t find a job and had to leave. All were given the opportunity and exposed to people with long term sobriety. We hope that they all took something with them that will prove helpful in their lives. It became standard practice to invite successful residents to continue involvement with Hearthstone after moving out. Several have done that thru the years and have gone on to contribute time and service as members of the board. This is a wonderful way to stay active in recovery.
In 1987 the board had 2 big problems.
In January 1987 there was a board meeting at the 1st. national bank. Jack Landreth, Kerry Knudesen, Paul Smart, Joe Schoonover, Bill North and Garry Braddy were present. There was much discussion about what to do. We talked about grants and loans but soon realized that would take to much time. We even talked about just closing down. Finally we agreed that we just didn’t know what to do but we had till April. So when we closed, we held hands and asked God to help us because we didn’t know what to do.
A couple of weeks later we heard rumors of a 5 bedroom house for rent at 745 Ohio. Upon tracking down the rumor we were discovered that Betty Allen was the trustee for the estate that owned the house and furthermore the trust stipulated that the house be used for civic and charitable purposes. She leased the house to Hearthstone at a vastly reduced rate and spent most of the escrow repairing the porch, kitchen and showers. The house at 1132 Ohio could handle 7 residents. What furniture we had was pretty well beat up. The house at 745 Ohio could accommodate 10 residents so we needed quite a lot of furniture. 3 of us went to our respective churches and put a notice in the bulletins asking for furniture for the men’s halfway house. The following week we got enough donations of old furniture to fill the house. Co-incidentally the house at 745 Ohio was located ½ block north of the employment service, 1 block from the Al-ano club; the swimming pool and library were close. The bus route was handy. Several meetings were within walking distance as was the downtown and campus areas. We were pretty impressed with the answers to our prayers and decided that we were on the right track. Feeling somewhat empowered after all these miracles, we began to institute some changes to the original operating system. The requirement for Antabuse was dropped. We raised the room and board from $55 per week to $65 per week. We separated rent from food. Under the old system room and board was one item and we had a charge account for the residents at Kroger’s for groceries. One month we noticed that 5 residents had charged $1200 worth of groceries. We decided that change was in order. So rent went to $40 per week and we put the residents in charge of their own chow fund and recommended that they chip in $25 per week per man. We began to manage the house more closely, paying more attention to residents finding work and paying rent with cash rather than promises. We found that the change had been good for us as an organization and as individuals. Making the residents responsible for their own food seemed to empower them as well.
Almost immediately the house filled to its capacity of ten residents. The cast of characters that became our teachers was amazing. People from all walks of life showed up to give sobriety a try. Some made it on the first try and are happy productive people today. Others made several tries. We try to limit attempts at Hearthstone to 3 in order to avoid “ENABLING”. However some have managed to worm their way back in as many as 5 times over a period of years. They manage this by coming for an interview when a new board member is conducting the meeting. When this happens we try to “make room for a miracle” because we know they happen. From that time in 1987 till the present year we’ve been able to pay all of our expenses, buy furniture and appliances as needed, keep a prudent reserve and help with a great many repairs and improvements to the house. I.e. Rewiring, new furnace and air-conditioning, and so on.
Since many of the residents leave without paying, we count these facts high on our list of miracles.
Approximately 100 men try Hearthstone every year. So over the 31 years of its existence it’s touched a lot of lives; especially when the families are factored in. More than once we have seen individuals who have failed miserably and repeatedly at Hearthstone show up a few years later sober and productive. God knows how but we hope that Hearthstone was somehow helpful. Many people have served on the Board of directors thru the years. The original incorporators were, Bob Graves, Link Hughes, Rex Keith, Jack Landreth and Roy Neal.The first officers were, Fred McElhenie, John Weatherwax and Jack Landreth.
The first directors were Tom Anderson Sr., Dean Bevan, Judy Bevan, Bill Collinson, Betty Landreth,Paul Messineo, Ira Salvini, and Terry Sutcliffe. Early directors were, Paul Smart, Garry Braddy, Tom Sherwood, Kerry Knudesen, Gwen Knudesen, Bill North, Joe Schoonover, Matt McBride, Chris Haley, John Hoover, Byron House, Eddie Hathcoat, Dave Douglas, Dan Perry, Peter Dahl , Dan Beaulieu , Jack Hope, Steve Atkinson, J.D. Kerr, Jim Wisler, Terry Wilkinson ,Steve Noller, Joe Basks, and Jack Rose.
Present directors are, Garry Braddy, Nathan Feldt, Don Dorsey, John Weiss, Glenn Tesar, John Clements, Tom Anderson, Shawn Phillips, David Bailey, and Hank Darnell.