A Vision is Born
Serenity Inns was born out of concern from leaders in five congregations situated in the geographical epicenter of much of the city of Milwaukee’s drug traffic. These ELCA Lutheran congregations – Reformation, All Peoples, Cross, Hephatha and Incarnation – minister in zip codes 53208, 53212, 53205 and 53206. These neighborhoods are economically distressed communities where substance abuse disorders and addiction add to the stress on the people living here. Together, these faith leaders created a vision announced in December 2001 to serve these communities with residential recovery housing.
A House is Secured
In May 2002, a condemned house at 2825 West Brown St. was purchased, secured with resources from Milwaukee Habitat for Humanity. Through a partnership with Habitat and the work of many volunteers, a beautifully renovated and completely furnished house was dedicated 18 months later. Core staff when Serenity Inns admitted its first resident on Easter Monday, April 12, 2004, included a program administrator/social services coordinator, an addictions counselor, and two overnight house managers, called Innkeepers. The diverse and hands-on board of directors took on the tasks of telling the Serenity Inns story and raising needed funds.
Serenity Inns benefited greatly at its start-up from an important mentoring relationship with Samaritan Inns, a program of recovery through transitional living within the ministry of Shared Hope in Washington, D.C. with a 30-year track record. Central to its operating model are clear expectations and discipline combined with in-depth personal development and responsibility. Experienced Shared Hope staff worked with and trained the staff at Serenity Inns. While the formal mentoring partnership lasted three years, Serenity Inns and Samaritan Inns are linked as a part of the “trainer” program, where Serenity Inns staff share their expertise along with Shared Hope staff to help other communities address AODA needs in their communities.
Alumni House Added in 2016
The purchase of a 9-unit apartment building at 832 N. 25th Street, about 1½ miles from the Inn, to serve as housing for men who graduated from residential recovery in 2016 marked a new chapter. The “Alumni House” is designed to offer affordable housing for persons who are committed to developing their independent living skills through drug and alcohol-free community living. Due to prior evictions, criminal records or poor credit ratings, graduates had found securing clean affordable housing among their biggest challenges. Now graduates of the residential recovery program can opt to become Alumni House tenants where the shared housing can provide tenants the benefit of living in community and supporting each other in their recovery.