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Local wants to transform former school into drug rehab facility

A Sylvania truck driver who is a recovered cocaine addict and ordained minister is trying to get grants and donations to turn the empty Christian school on E. Ogeechee Street into a residential, Christian drug rehab facility.

Horace Orange said the year-long program would accommodate as many as 20 residents at once – working on their recovery, attending church services, volunteering, working in the community and continuing their educations. 
 
Orange leads a group, called DMJ House of Hope Ministry, which has been working on the project for 20 months. Among his supporters are many members of his church, the True Love Tabernacle and Deliverance Center.

The group is finishing paperwork to gain tax-exempt status and is seeking funds. It is interested in purchasing and renovating the former Community Christian School on E. Ogeechee Street, which is owned by the Ogeechee Tech Foundation and is for sale for $250,000.

Orange said he doesn’t have an estimate yet on how much money would be needed for renovations or for start-up costs for the program.

“With the economy the way it is, it’s going to be tougher than ever,” to start such a program, Orange said. “If it is the will of God, it will work itself out.”

Ogeechee Behavioral Health Services would screen patients and provide substance abuse services for the House of Hope.

Victoria Toy Richbourg, executive director of OBHS, said she hopes the program gets underway and she hopes it starts soon. “There is a great need for residential substance abuse services in Screven County,” she said.

She said her organization looks forward to the partnership. “We are here, as always, to serve those most-in-need in our communities,” she said.

Orange said he’d like to take the best of what he has seen in other drug rehab programs and make improvements.

For example, some programs send participants out to work in the community after only two weeks, throwing them into a world of temptation and, Orange said, setting them up to fail. Residents at House of Hope would take part in the program for two months before going out into the community to work as volunteers.

After volunteering for six months, they would try to find paying jobs in the community. Any money they make would be saved to help them re-enter society after their one-year residency at the House of Hope ends.

“We know it will not help everyone,” he said. “We believe the majority who come through will be helped.”

Orange said he became a cocaine addict after his 23-month-old daughter was murdered. He said he went through rehab programs at VA medical centers twice before finding the help he needed at a Christian center in South Carolina – about four years ago.