December 2015 Newsletter

Serenity Inns December 2015 Newsletter

A Holiday Message from the Executive Director

During this holiday season, I feel compelled to talk about something different from the typical bright side message. Oftentimes, it is challenging to talk about faith and spirituality because many confuse spirituality with religion. Or they measure faith with success. However you understand them, Faith and Spirituality seem to shine brighter during Thanksgiving and Christmas. People are kinder, a little more loving and rethinking those missed times spent with God. Sadly, the journey of faith for many individuals can be painful and challenging as they try to figure out who they are and where they belong on the food chain called life.


Ellen Blathers

Ellen Blathers

For many, Serenity Inns offers opportunities for recovery and a refuge to those whose faith has taken a blow and offers as well a shot of hope to their wounded spirits. For the staff, the work is intense year round. We present ourselves as good stewards of the work. Many of our volunteers see the results of our work, the smile on our faces, and our premium cheerleading skills. 1 Corinthians 4:2 Moreover it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful. For us, it is more than a job; it is a commitment to our faith, to the core of who we are as individuals.

 The challenge for the staff at Serenity Inns is to help the men see the value in themselves. This can be daunting and overwhelming, especially, when the men are either angry at God or convinced He doesn’t exist. Those feelings are more intense during the holiday season as they reflect on the loss of family, friends and normalcy. But it doesn’t stop the staff from confronting the dark side of these emotions in the men as well as the sometimes personal rollercoaster the staff has to experience. It sounds good but what those on the outside don’t see is the dark side of our work.


What we don’t dare show is the pain we experience every time a man doesn’t succeed or has to be asked to leave the program. I can’t tell you how many times Lionel and I along with the Innkeepers wrestle with what we could have done differently. As the captain of the ship, I am left with the task of enforcing the rules. However, the word of God is the foundation of our well-being. It helps us keep our roles in perspective. You might ask, why tell me about this? I tell you this to let you know your smile helps the staff too.

Your kind words motivate us when all is going wrong. Your donations are an affirmation of a job well done. Your continued prayers are food for our spirits as we fight for the men until they are able to fight for themselves. And while the holiday is full of good cheer, our time is filled with an endless supply of hope that men can live in recovery. We ask you to continue to serve as our partners, supporting us as we teach the men. This year we celebrate 37 men who were helped by a good Samaritan; that good Samaritan is you. Your support and kindness benefit the men in their recovery and encourage the staff to champion the cause. To you, I give a heartfelt “Thank You!”



Where are they now?

(The 23rd in a series of Interviews with Alumni)
By: Lorraine Buehler

Now 53, Robert Rhinehart started drinking at his father’s funeral when he was 13. From the first swallow, he fell in love with beer; it became his gateway drug to weed and other drugs.

Robert Rhinehart

Robert Rhinehart

In spite of losing his father at such a young age, he recalls fondly having a loving family, especially his mom who worked two jobs after his father died, one of them as a caseworker for the Welfare Department. She tried to keep Robert on the right track. Left unsupervised, however, he started running with the wrong crowd

and dropped out of school in 11th grade—in spite of getting good grades.

Along the way, Robert spent 10 years in Wisconsin prisons where he got his high school diploma (HSED) at age 31 and learned carpentry. At one point on the outside, he took advantage of a 6-week training program at Tramont Corporation—offered to people on food stamps. He took to welding right away, enjoyed it and worked at Tramont for some time.

Thirty-nine years after that first drink, Robert found sobriety when he checked into detox and then into Serenity Inn in early October 2014. In the interim he had tried recovery two other times, both court-ordered, but checked out each time after five days.

This time, Robert wanted the recovery for himself. He woke up homeless and frightened because of the shakes (DT’s) and remembers not being able to fill out an application. He worried he was sicker than he knew—with cancer or something worse.

Committed to his recovery, Robert was willing to go along with all aspects of the Serenity Inns program: the rules, the reflections (“extremely helpful”), the group meetings (“very helpful”), and Money Management which he uses every day now, adhering to a budget and keeping a record of his spending on a ledger in his car.

Today, Robert is again working as a welder at Tramont Corporation, doing 12-hour days, and happy to be there working with a good crew. The work keeps his mind off other things and is going to help him realize his goal of buying a house (one of the foreclosure homes the city is selling) and NEVER BE HOMELESS again!

He is part of the Serenity Inns Alumni Group to show that recovery can happen, attends AA/NA meetings regularly, and to Stay Strong does not go to his old haunts.

Robert has many regrets, especially that his mother did not live to see his transformation. He recalls her saying so many times, “If you put more energy into doing things the right way, you would be alright.”

Robert knows that if Serenity Inn had not been there when he needed it, he would be dead or in jail. Instead, he is resolved to buy and make a home for himself and to live and get to know his grandchildren.



Expansion Being Explored

At its July meeting, the Board of Directors established an Ad Hoc committee to explore the acquisition of an independent living facility for graduates of the Serenity Inns program. From its inception, Serenity Inns has been modeled after the Samaritan Inns program in Washington, D.C. Graduates of that program have the option to move into an apartment owned by Samaritan Inns as the next step on their recovery journey. Samaritan Inns owns and manages the facilities and provides support, counseling and after care to the graduates.

Because Serenity Inns graduates encounter challenges in securing housing upon graduation, either from potential landlords not interested in renting to them because of addiction issues or their credit report or from families because of broken relationships, the Ad Hoc Committee is exploring the purchase of a multi unit apartment building that it would rehabilitate, we hope with the aid of Habitat for Humanity Milwaukee.

The apartments ideally would be on a bus line to facilitate access to jobs, a grocery store, Serenity Inns, churches and AA and NA programming, and Serenity Inns would manage the building with an Inn Keeper living in the building with the units to be shared by graduates to enhance affordability and recovery support. The goal is for the units to be furnished apartments by Serenity Inns to maintain a standard in décor and to enhance hygiene, cleanliness and a positive appearance. Onsite programming would be offered to the graduates to strengthen their recovery.

The Committee is working with a realtor to gain knowledge of the market, identifying grant programs to fund building rehabilitation, and exploring the ins and outs of managing a multi unit apartment building.

As the Committee shares its insights with the Board of Directors, the Board in turn will share the progress being made with the supporters of Serenity Inns. Some gifts have already been designated for the acquisition of an independent living facility and are being held in a reserve account. If and when the Board of Directors determines that Serenity Inns is ready to take this next step, you can anticipate that it will be asking for financial support of this initiative.

If you have any questions, suggestions, or concerns, you can direct them to the Committee Chairperson, David Romoser, at



Alumni Association Plans Christmas Party

By Jason Dobson, Alumni Association President

On December 13, the Alumni Association will be hosting its first annual Christmas dinner. Members of the association have successfully completed Serenity Inns program and attend monthly meetings of the group.

Eighteen graduates, eleven of their children, twelve family members and the residents who are currently at the Inn have been invited to the dinner. Gracious volunteers and the alumni themselves will provide the holiday meal with all the fixings followed by games and secret Santa gifts for the residents given by the alumni. This event will allow the alumni and their families to come together at this special time of the year to share their recovery and what Serenity Inns has done for all the alumni and their families.


Save the Date!

Thursday, April 21, 2016 for the 6th Annual Celebration of Recovery Dinner at the Italian Community Center, Milwaukee.


Mission Statement

To provide structured housing and rehabilitative services in an environment of support and accountability that will give addicted men the opportunity to rebuild their lives.



Editor: Lorraine Buehler,

Webmaster: Brandon LaFave

Publisher: Susie Hansen

Check our new website for past issues

Address: P. O. Box 26887 Milwaukee, WI 53226-6887

Phone: 414-873-5474
FAX: 414-873-5484


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