Kristina Fitzgerald, resident manager of Freedom House in Soldotna, talks with John Walker and Mike Meredith of the VFW during the sober living home’s open house Friday, May 5, 2017 at the house on Shady Lane in Soldotna, Alaska. Freedom House is an eight-bed, faith-based transitional living home for women recovering from addictions. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

Kristina Fitzgerald, resident manager of Freedom House in Soldotna, talks with John Walker and Mike Meredith of the VFW during the sober living home’s open house Friday, May 5, 2017 at the house on Shady Lane in Soldotna, Alaska. Freedom House is an eight-bed, faith-based transitional living home for women recovering from addictions. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

Sober living home Freedom House nears opening in Soldotna

After months of work leading right up to its open house this weekend, faith-based sober living home Freedom House in Soldotna is largely complete.

The transitional home for women will be open to residents starting May 15, said Jennifer Waller, the project’s leader and a former addict who began work to turn her personal dream into reality last summer. She will interview her first applicant to the house and accompanying program Monday, she said during an open house for the building Friday.

“It’s just overwhelming,” Waller said of the project to rehab and open the home. “… I had people telling me, ‘You have all these ideas … but you don’t have any money.’”

Waller described the conversation with an inspector from the city when she was first looking at the building as a possibility, in which she said the odds of pulling the project off were described as slim to none. The building was inspected again when it got its permit of occupancy the day before the open house.

“He shook my hand and said, ‘You did the impossible,’” Waller said.

The house on Shady Lane in Soldotna has eight beds for women working to recover from addiction. They can be referred to Freedom House via a treatment program like Serenity House, or can simply walk in and ask for an application, Waller said. Tenants will sign up for a nine-month program three months at a time, during which they will live in the house and follow certain rules, like attending church, adhering to a curfew and getting a job to be able to pay a $450 housing fee. If employment can’t be found, Waller said women enrolled in the program must participate in community service.

The ninth bed in the house is reserved for Waller’s resident manager, Kristina Fitzgerald, who moved in Wednesday. Fitzgerald will live at Freedom House full time but will also continue at her full-time job. Living at the house will allow her to keep an eye on things at night and to offer support to the tenants.

Fitzgerald said Waller reached out to her about the position, and that she wanted to accept because she has a personal connection to what the women of Freedom House will be going through.

“Two years ago I was in Wildwood,” she said. “I’m a convicted felon. And while I was in prison is when, you know my darkest hour is when I came to Christ. I have done drugs on and off throughout my whole life. … I’m just a firm believer that without Christ, without having that void in your life filled, that it’s just a revolving door, and that’s what we’re trying to solve.”

Waller said Freedom House will accept two women at a time into the program. She is taking about a week of downtime before she continues on with aspects of the house that still need to be finished to be in compliance with city code, such as work on the roof, foundation and a backyard parking lot.

Waller said work will also continue on rehabbing upstairs office spaces in the building, which she hopes to rent out to businesses to help pay off the building and offset the cost of operating Freedom House.

To get Freedom House up and running from the time renovations began in December 2016, Waller estimated based off volunteer sign-up sheets that it took more than 500 volunteers and 5,000 hours of work. She said it cost $353,280 to get the building where it is today. For every dollar donated to the project, Waller said 20 percent goes to the house’s mortgage, 20 percent goes to operation funds and 60 percent was put into fixing up the building.

As a place of transition for women in recovery to get back on their feet, Waller said Freedom House is an effort to meet a great need in the community when it comes to housing for those getting out of treatment or prison.

John Walker, incoming commander of the VFW post in Soldotna just down the street from Freedom House, said during the open house that the VFW would like to be able to refer female veterans to the sober home in the case that its members are serving someone who would benefit from it.

“We are neighbors,” he said.

Reach Megan Pacer at megan.pacer@peninsulaclarion.com.

Visitors mingle during an open house for Freedom House, a faith-based sober living home, held Friday, May 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. The home will accept up to eight women at a time into a nine-month program to help in their recovery. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

Visitors mingle during an open house for Freedom House, a faith-based sober living home, held Friday, May 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. The home will accept up to eight women at a time into a nine-month program to help in their recovery. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

Sober living home Freedom House nears opening in Soldotna

Visitors mingle during an open house for Freedom House, a faith-based sober living home, held Friday, May 5, 2017 in Soldotna, Alaska. The home will accept up to eight women at a time into a nine-month program to help in their recovery. (Megan Pacer/Peninsula Clarion)

More in News

Alaska Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer speaks during a press conference announcing the administration’s push for changes to the state’s election system on Tuesday, Dec. 28, 2021, in Anchorage, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kevin Goodman, State of Alaska)
Just 2 Alaska lieutenant governor candidates say 2020 presidential vote was fair

Alaska’s lieutenant governor will oversee the 2024 presidential election

Kenai Peninsula School District Superintendent Clayton Holland stand near the entrance to the district’s Soldotna offices on Thursday, March 17, 2022, in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Academics, staff recruitment among district priorities for upcoming school year

The superintendent is ready to see KPBSD return to the district’s pre-COVID-19 academic performance

Raymond Bradbury preserves his salmon while dipnetting in the mouth of the Kenai River on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Personal use harvest reports due Monday

Northern Kenai fishing report

Evelyn Cooley competes in the barrel race at the Kenai Peninsula Fair on Aug. 12, 2022, in Ninilchik, Alaska. (Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Music, magic, daredevils and pigs

Kenai Peninsula Fair brings an assortment of activities to Ninilchik

Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion file)
Signs direct voters at the Kenai No. 3 precinct for Election Day on Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2021. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
Local candidates report support from state PACs

Labor unions and the National Education Association are among the groups putting money into Kenai Peninsula state election races

Signs and examples on the recycling super sack at the Cook Inletkeeper Community Action Studio show which plastics are desired as part of the project in Soldotna, Alaska, on Aug. 11, 2022. Plastics from types 1, 2, 4 and 5 can be deposited.(Jake Dye/Peninsula Clarion)
Local nonprofit accepting plastics for synthetic lumber project

The super sack receptacles can be found on either side of Soldotna

This July 28, 2022, photo shows drag queen Dela Rosa performing in a mock election at Cafecito Bonito in Anchorage, Alaska, where people ranked the performances by drag performers. Several organizations are using different methods to teach Alaskans about ranked choice voting, which will be used in the upcoming special U.S. House election. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)
Groups get creative to help Alaska voters with ranked voting

Organizations have gotten creative in trying to help voters understand how to cast their ballot, as the mock election featuring drag performers shows

A school bus outside of Kenai Central High School advertises driver positions on Wednesday, Aug. 10, 2022, in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Staff shortage, gas prices change school bus routes

The changes do not apply to the district’s special education students

The cast of “Tarzan” rides the Triumvirate Theatre float during the Independence Day parade in downtown Kenai, Alaska on Monday, July 4, 2022. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The show goes on as Triumvirate seeks funding for new theater

The troupe has staged shows and events and is looking to debut a documentary as it raise funds for new playhouse

Most Read