In late 2011, a group of like-minded individuals from New Hope Community Church in Potsdam, New York committed themselves to officially organizing as an agency to help men and women suffering from substance use disorders. Bylaws were drafted and the pro-bono services of attorney Vern Ingram were enlisted to handle the legal paperwork. On December 15, 2011 the first official board meeting was held. The five initial board members present were: Pastor John Ault, William Melchior, Peter Popiel, Barry Schulz, and Carolyn White.
On September 6, 2012 New Hope Transformation House Ministries, Inc. (now doing business as Grace House) was incorporated as a 501(c)3 non-profit agency. In the years that ensued educational programs were presented for the community, Pastor Ault preached in various churches in the North Country on the theology of addiction which he had developed, and each of the board members looked at houses and apartments in all parts of St. Lawrence County.
In late 2017 Pastor Ault and Father Charles Smith of Grace Episcopal Church in Canton, NY discussed the vacant parsonage that Grace Episcopal Church was not utilizing. A number of the board members visited and decided it was perfect for a residence for women. It was decided to establish a house for women because the county already had a mens’ house, North Country Freedom Homes in Canton. Women in need of services after rehabilitation often had to go to urban areas where they were not comfortable. The excellent facilities in Watertown often had lengthy waiting lists. After a year or so of county and village planning and zoning board meetings, and inspections, the Village of Canton, NY was wonderfully supportive of Grace House and continues to be so to this day. On January 12, 2019 with all necessary approvals, insurance, furnishings and supplies, we hosted our first admission.
As of 2021, eight churches in St. Lawrence County and one church in Jefferson County were supporting Grace House and contributions have been received from other congregations.
From 2019 through 2021, we have had 53 women whose lives have been impacted by Grace House. The average age of the women whom we serve is 35 years old. We have found that while each woman’s circumstances are unique, the majority of the women stay an average length of 64 days. Every woman who came to us did not have an appropriate living situation and none of the women who came to us had custody of their minor children.
As of March 2022 our board members include Brendan Lennox, Carol Foote-Bley
Kaitlyn Smith, Kate McDonnell, Phoebe Rogerson, Carolyn White, and Stephanie Hebel. We have a number of churches who financially support Grace House. In addition several churches support the women through Celebrate Recovery and encourage their members to volunteer.
Carolyn White, Grace Episcopal Church, has been a part of the board since its inception in 2011. Community health and especially the health and well-being of those suffering with substance use disorders has been her mission and life’s work for the last 50 years in employment and as a volunteer. Grace House is a heart’s desire realized!
Brendan Lennox has been part of the board since July 2019. He has been involved with Grace House maintenance since October 2018. He currently resides in Norwood, NY with his wife Emily, two dogs, one cat, and three ducks. Brendan is an Environmental Engineer working for CDM Smith in Massena, NY. His connection to New Hope Community Church in Potsdam, NY and his heart of servitude led him to Grace House.
Steph Hebel has been the Treasurer for Grace House since 2019. She is a member of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Potsdam, NY and has a Master of Business Administration from Clarkson. Steph was led to serve at Grace House because she has a relative who is in recovery from a heroin overdose in 2015.
Carol Bley has been on the Grace House Board since almost the beginning. She worked at the Detox and Rehab Center at Canton-Potsdam Hospital from the beginning until she retired. She attends Good News Fellowship that meets on Saturday mornings at 11:00 am. They have a potluck lunch and Bible Study afterwards. They meet in the building on 30 Court Street in Canton. All are welcome to visit and eat any time.
Kaitlyn Smith has been a part of the board since January 2022. She currently resides in Norfolk, NY with her husband David and is a caretaker for her grandmother Yvonne. Her passion to help others and volunteer in the community led her to Grace House. She attends Grace Episcopal Church.