Treatment center expands

April 03, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

Wells House Executive Director Charles H. Mooneyhan couldn't be happier about the new location at 124-126 E. Baltimore St. for the halfway house/drug- and alcohol-abuse treatment center.

But even with space for 20 clients there and another eight to 12 beds at the old site at 324 N. Locust St., there still are 32 men on the waiting list, he said.

"We're keeping the old building to serve as a sort of step-down setting for our men," Mooneyhan said.

Once they have completed the program at the Wells House, the men may move to the Locust Street site for a time before going back into the community, he said.


The double house on Baltimore Street was acquired last October, Mooneyhan said. A lot of work had to be done before it could be occupied, he said.

"Except for the plumbing, electrical and carpet installation, the rest of the rehab of the building was done by former clients who came back to help," Mooneyhan said.

Mooneyhan said Wells House exists because of funds from the Washington County Gaming Commission, Hagerstown Rotary Foundation Inc., the Kershner Sisters Foundation and the Albert and Naomi Sinnisen Foundation.

The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation in Baltimore recently awarded Wells House a $95,000 grant, Mooneyhan said.

Wells House has been in operation since 1975.

The old location had only one office, shared by Mooneyhan, Richard Benchoff, the program director, longtime Wells House staff member Bill Foster and occasionally by the counselors when they ran out of space to meet with clients.

Not only is there expanded office space now, but there is a separate office/interview room for counselors to use.

There are 10 bedrooms, a common room, a full kitchen and a small adjacent dining room to the rear of the Baltimore Street building. Mooneyhan has plans to double the size of the kitchen so it can be used to train the clients in the cooking arts.

"We are waiting to hear about additional grant money we have applied for," he said.

Depending on how that goes, the hope is to expand the building out back for a larger dining hall for the men.

In addition, Mooneyhan said, he is considering starting a lawn-care business.

"We don't want to send our men back out on the street with no skills," Mooneyhan said.

The cooking and lawn-care training could be viable work opportunities once the men have completed their Wells House stays.

The men who stay at Wells House must be working, looking for work or in school. They attend group or individual therapy sessions when at Wells House. During their stay, they contribute to their keep based on their ability to pay, Mooneyhan said.

For information on Wells House, call 301-739-7748.

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