New nonprofit aids those in halfway houses

By SARALYN NORKUS Staff Writer
Posted 7/7/17

Pirate Springs is relatively new to the Bradley County area nonprofit scene, but is already making a difference in the lives of those it was created to serve.

Knowing the struggles of …

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New nonprofit aids those in halfway houses

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Pirate Springs is relatively new to the Bradley County area nonprofit scene, but is already making a difference in the lives of those it was created to serve.

Knowing the struggles of addiction from firsthand experience, founder Paul Hook, who has been in recovery for almost 30 years, and his wife, who has been in recovery for nearly 12, set out to help those who are working to get their lives back on track.

“Since we married nine years ago, we had talked about forming some kind of organization to help people, because we see these problems that no one addresses,” Hook explained.

“One of the first ones we talked about was the fact that when you get out of rehab or out of jail, you go check into a halfway house and right away the clock is ticking — you’ve got bills mounting up.”

According to Hook, who is known as “Captain Hook” around Pirate Springs, most halfway houses give residents two or three weeks to start paying, with those initial weeks being included in back pay.

“You’ve got these bills mounting up, and for people who are just out of jail or just out of rehab, it’s sometimes really hard to get a job right away. They wind up going back to the street, the place they know,” Hook stated.

That is how the idea for Clean Time, Pirate Springs’ cleaning company came to be.

The company, which began with washing semi trucks, now offers mobile auto detailing, pressure washing, yard and lawn care, construction, construction cleanup, commercial home and office cleaning, pool services and much more. Despite its growth, the goal has always remained the same — to provide transitional employment for Pirate Springs’ clients in recovery.

“We started a company that does pressure washing, and initially it was with semi trucks, then we wound up on new car lots and we wound up getting most of the new car dealerships in Chattanooga and Cleveland,” Hook said.

“It does really well — it makes them enough money to pay their bills, and pays well enough that they can take one or two days a week so that they can go out and look for a full time job. It’s not meant to be a full-time job, it’s meant to be transitional income to get you stabilized.”

Since its inception, Clean Time has employed 91 Pirate Springs clients, with 80 percent of those staying on the road to recovery.

One of the major battles Hook and Pirate Springs fight is attempting to remove the stigma of being in recovery.

To start out, it wasn’t known that Clean Time employed those in recovery.

“After several months of establishing credibility and relationships with these people, I said ‘You know these guys are all in recovery, right?’ They were shocked. Businesses are going to see that you don’t really have to be scared of people in recovery.

“If we can stand in the gap between the people the businesses don’t trust and the businesses themselves and say, ‘Look, if anything happens, we’ll stand for it,’ we’re willing to do all of that; it’s just a matter of finding the businesses,” Hook continued.

Pirate Springs is unique in that every single person on the board of directors, except for one, is in recovery.

“Those involved with Pirate Springs have been where they are and I think that’s critical.”

The organization’s mission statement reads: “Pirate Springs provides treatment, housing, life reintegration and employment services to individuals recovering from addiction, alcoholism, or abuse; from a place of compassion because those who are part of Pirate Springs have been where our clients are. We believe that the life of another, any other, is of supreme value and worth saving.”

Pirate Springs accomplishes this through residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, after treatment care, housing assistance, employment assistance and comprehensive life reintegration services.

Partnerships within the community are pivotal to Pirate Springs.

“We’re very big on working with everyone, we don’t want to be a ‘lone ranger’ in the neighborhood. We want to be part of the solution, we don’t believe we have the solution, but we believe we’ve got some unique ideas to bring to the table,” Hook said.

It is Hook’s goal to see Pirate Springs grow into its own facility, as it is currently operating out of his home. The organization has applied for a grant with the United Way of the Ocoee Region and is actively looking for a house to lease to help clients.

Pirate Springs is also an active member in the Chattanooga area, and is in the process of organizing the “largest” recovery celebration in Southeast Tennessee, which will be held on Sept. 23 at Camp Jordan in East Ridge. Throughout the month, which is National Recovery Month, the community will have the opportunity to follow a treasure map to various sponsors/businesses that have signed up and where people can get the map stamped. For every stamp on the map, participants will receive a ticket for the “treasure chest.”

Those interested in more information on Pirate Springs or the Recovery Month Treasure Hunt and Celebration can visit http://piratesprings.org/.

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