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News / Health / Clark County Health

Recovery home for men: The Dewey House opens with help from Clark County’s mental health sales tax

After six years, Thrive2Survive opened in February with space for 10 residents

By Mia Ryder-Marks, Columbian staff reporter
Published: March 12, 2024, 6:08am
4 Photos
Thrive2Survive founder Charles Hanset Jr. moves a coffee table March 5 at The Dewey House in Vancouver. The Vancouver-based nonprofit recently opened the recovery house.
Thrive2Survive founder Charles Hanset Jr. moves a coffee table March 5 at The Dewey House in Vancouver. The Vancouver-based nonprofit recently opened the recovery house. (Taylor Balkom/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

Charles Hanset Jr. could list many things he admires about his late uncle, Dewey Long. He was extremely talented at playing the drums and fixing up cars, and he always tried to pass on his knowledge to young Hanset.

But his uncle also struggled with addiction and mental illness. Long took his own life in 2004.

“He was the nicest guy ever, but once he started doing meth and stuff it just changed him completely,” Hanset said. “But he helped raise me and taught me so many things.”

Twenty years later, Hanset is honoring his uncle by opening the doors to a recovery home for men called The Dewey House. The recovery home is an initiative by PNW Grassroots Recovery Housing, which operates under Hanset’s nonprofit Thrive2Survive.

Information

The home has been in the works for about six years. Remodeling of the house began in January after the nonprofit received a grant from Clark County’s mental health sales tax program. Through community volunteers and donations from businesses, such as the RePurpose Center, the house opened its doors in February. The Dewey House can accommodate as many as 10 residents and help them connect to services and employment.

“It’s almost surreal,” Hanset said. “Sometimes, I think it’s a dream, and I have to pinch myself.”

And the house opened its doors for the community at a critical time.

Every 11 minutes in the United States someone dies from an overdose. Locally, 156 people died of overdoses between 2020 and 2022, according to the Clark County Medical Examiner’s Office.

The local numbers hit close to home for Hanset.

After using various substances since he was about 12 years old and experiencing a few overdoses of his own, Hanset entered treatment at 37 and moved into a recovery program similar to The Dewey House.

“A house like this saved my life,” Hanset said. “The men moving in can have a chance to stabilize in their lives and in recovery and so that they can have that chance.”

Back on track

Residents come to the program from treatment facilities, the streets or incarceration.

A full-time peer specialist is on-site to help residents overcome their barriers. The recovery home offers a three-phase program.

Phase 1 takes place in the first 30 days after a man is housed. It focuses on stabilization and gathering resources for the resident, such as food stamps or assistance for housing support.

The house’s peer support specialist will also help identify ongoing needs and help enroll residents in treatment services for substance-use disorders or mental illness.

Phase 2 takes between two and four months, and focuses on residents building daily structure and a sense of community through groups such as Celebrate Recovery, fitness clubs or other options.

Phase 3 takes as long as six months and focuses on recovery. The Dewey House supports residents in seeking employment, enrolling in school and, if applicable, applying for Social Security Disability Insurance or Social Security.

“The last phase of it is we’re trying to allow them the time to work the recovery program and live a successful life as we help them find some long-term goal — whatever that looks like for them,” said Erin Honan, Thrive2Survive’s director of operations.

But there isn’t a limit on how long residents can stay, Hanset said. They leave when they are ready.

The program acknowledges that recovery isn’t linear.

“This program itself has developed what’s called a ‘right to remedy.’ So as long as you’re honest, you come forth and try to seek help in recovery, we’re going to help you get back on track,” said Christina Anderson, who handles Thrive2Survive’s business development.

The program does have one unbreakable rule, however: no substance use on the premises.

But if a resident does that, The Dewey House will help him find another program.

Breaking the cycle

Hanset walks through the sliding door that leads out to the backyard at The Dewey House. He’s surrounded by greenery as he points across the yard to the neighboring house.

Thrive2Survive is in the works to buy the house next door — which will be a women’s recovery home. It will be named The Sonya House, after Hanset’s younger sister who died from an overdose in 2014.

Hanset has already created the Sonya Fund — in honor of his sister — which helps local families who have lost loved ones to homelessness, substance use or a mental health condition pay for memorial services.

Family is intertwined in everything Hanset does. Hanset’s father and daughter were part of creating The Dewey House.

“All three of us have had issues with mental health and addiction, so being able to turn it around and help other people in the community is amazing,” said Kandyss Hanset, Charles Hanset’s daughter and executive assistant for Thrive2Survive.

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Hanset said he names resources after family members because not only does it provide a personal touch but a reminder of how addiction and mental health conditions impact so many in our community. But that it is possible to break the cycle.

“If I can come from in and out of jail, losing my kids, and living on the streets — other people can do it, too — and that’s what I want to show them with The Dewey House.”

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

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