Jefferson City woman goes from addict to role-model
JEFFERSON CITY - Heather Gieck started the Healing House and New Beginnings in Jefferson City to save women addicted to drugs the same way she was once saved.
"We want changed hearts is what we want, because changed hearts produce changed lives, and changed lives will produce changed communities," Gieck said.
The Healing House is the first women's recovery shelter in Jefferson City. To it's residents, it's a home, but to it's founder it's a path that started with God.
"As he began to show me the steps, I began to write those steps down and I was on my journey," Gieck said.
Her journey started in childhood.
"When you grow up with people who are using substance all around you, when you fend for yourself, most of your life, you really get into a place of survival," she said. "In that place of survival, it's very necessary to shut down your heart, because if you don't, you're probably going to die."
Gieck's addiction would get her into a variety of trouble. She overdosed, drove under the influence and, eventually, was arrested and sent to the Vandalia Correctional Center. Gieck said that was the turning point in her life.
"The real change happened in prison, my heart was changed in prison, my heart was changed, my mind was renewed," she said.
After being released, Gieck travelled to Branson, where she was part of a recovery community. It was there she said she sobered up and became committed to starting the Healing House.
She would return to Jefferson City, and began to make a plan. It did not begin with brick and motor, but instead in a vision journal with pen and paper.
From a journal entry, January 2010: "You showed me where to start. Address 1418 West Main Street."
"As I began to walk up and down the street, of West Main Street, one day the Lord arrested my heart right outside of this house," Gieck said.
It would take three years before the spot would become the Healing House.
Gieck said the program did not start out as easily as she had hoped.
"I would look up at the Lord and think 'are you kidding me, is this what I'm doing this for,'" she said.
Eventually though, Gieck began to put women on the same path that had changed her.
Healing House resident Ashley Chop said, "God sent Heather especially for me, I really do believe, because she loved me when i was unlovable. I wanted help, you know, I wanted to change, and I felt like there wasn't no hope, then Heather came."
Gieck said it was all worth it.
"If I had to go through what I had to go through to get to the place where I am today, I'd do it all over again," she said.
The Healing House has now seen 10 women finish the program, meaning they are now at least one year sober. Gieck and the women from the house will hold a fundraiser May 15 at the Memorial Park Pavilion.