H.O.W. offers home and garden help — and hope
Local nonprofit builds men up while providing home and garden services.
To learn more about the H.O.W. Foundation, call 918-252-5746.
When Jennifer Mathews needs assistance with a tough home project, she hires the H.O.W. Foundation. She has used them for projects such as hauling and yard work. This type of work can be grueling, yet life-changing, especially for some of the foundation’s newest crew members. They are newly sober.
Established in Tulsa in 1981, the H.O.W. Foundation is a six-month-minimum residential recovery center for men over age 18. It has seen more than 8,100 men enter its doors. Most are court ordered, but some walk in off the street, like Robert Alves.
Alves went through the program 10 years ago, describing himself as a homeless street junkie who had tried to become sober his entire life. Nothing worked until he found H.O.W. Foundation. After he completed the program, he joined the staff. And now? He’s the executive director.
“I love the H.O.W. Foundation with all that I have,” Alves says. “I never dreamed I’d be the executive director of a recovery center.”
Everyone who works at the 75-bed facility has been through the working program, which Alves says is no-nonsense with a military flavor.
“You do what you’re told when you’re told to do it without question or comment,” Alves says. “All these things together work by instilling in the addict or alcoholic the things that have been lost through addiction: work ethic, honesty, timeliness, taking care of your appearance and good nutrition. For those that it works well for, it works.”
The days start early for residents. After completing a short Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, the men receive their assignments, which range from cleaning rental houses, clearing land, tree work, moving services, and thrift store donation pickup and delivery. In the evenings, residents can attend more AA meetings.
The work is hard, but Alves shares encouragement with residents. “I will give you my word,” Alves says to them. “If you complete this, your life will be different.”
The crews work in all types of weather, and Mathews describes the men as courteous, reliable and affordable. H.O.W. crew members are provided room, board and transportation, and upon graduation from the program, might receive additional services like dental care, ID recovery and paid fines.
“The principles of honesty, open-mindedness and willingness (H.O.W.) can affect real change in people’s lives,” Mathews says. “I always ask the newest guy his sobriety date … and congratulate him on making the choice to stay sober today. Sobriety is a very big deal. It’s the first step toward a good life.”
After program completion, residents can move into one of H.O.W.’s sober living houses, join the staff or return home. When they leave, the hope is that they have learned personal responsibility and the value of honesty.
“We hope it’ll reawaken the values the addict had before coming here, or that they may have never had,” Alves says.