When Kristopher Hunley decided to open a rehabilitation facility for men in Seymour, he knew what to name it — Todd’s Place Transitional Housing and Detox Facility.
Todd McMahel was five years sober when he developed cirrhosis of the liver and needed a transplant.
But when he had become an alcoholic, his family and friends no longer associated with him. He was alone.
“He said he didn’t have any family, and I was all the family he had,” said Hunley, who met McMahel while they were working for The Salvation Army in Indianapolis.
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McMahel had served various roles with The Salvation Army and worked his way up to sergeant.
He later was moved to the Noah Transitional Housing Program, which houses men coming out of jails and graduates of The Salvation Army’s adult rehabilitation program.
McMahel’s health progressively got worse, and he wound up in the hospital on a ventilator. Hunley received a call one night and was told McMahel didn’t have much longer to live. Hunley called his sponsor, Pastor Daniel Trosch, because he couldn’t be there by himself.
McMahel died nearly a year ago, and Hunley and Trosch were there by his side.
“I grabbed his hand when they unplugged him, and I told him to go on home and claim his mansion because he’s sure got one waiting on him,” Hunley said.
Trosch said it was hard to see McMahel take his last breath.
“It was probably one of the hardest things to go in there,” Trosch said. “But we just prayed for him, and we kept lifting him up.”
‘A real fighter’
Despite all he went through, Hunley said, McMahel never complained and was always worried about other people.
“Even on his deathbed, he was worried about me and worried about the guys at the house and making sure they were doing the right thing,” Hunley said. “Everything he went through, he was still about helping the next person and caring and was unselfish.”
Trosch said McMahel was “a real fighter.”
“When Todd got sick, he just had the best attitude every day,” Trosch said. “He just believed that attitude was everything, and he was as positive as you could be and really fought hard. He just didn’t make it to the top of the (transplant) list fast enough.”
Earlier this year, Hunley left his job at the transitional facility to pursue something he had his eye on for a while — turning a long-neglected nursing home building in Seymour into a rehabilitation facility for men. Once he pieced everything together, he named it for McMahel.
The staff includes Hunley as director of operations; his fiancee, Angie Coomer, assistant director of operations; and Trosch, director of rehabilitation services. They have been spreading the word about the facility at 4990 U.S. 31 North, which they hope to open in about two weeks.
Some funds have been raised for startup costs, and the staff hopes to gather more Aug. 22 during a fundraiser at the facility. The event will consist of a hog roast with all of the trimmings, guest speakers and preaching and singing by individuals and groups. Tickets are $20.
Hunley was able to locate some of McMahel’s family members, and he expects them to be at the event.
“We’re going to have the building open and our curriculum laid out,” Hunley said. “We’re going to be translucent. We want (the public) to see what we’re going to do.”
‘God had a plan’
When Hunley and Coomer began dating this year, she put him in contact with her cousin, Grover Stacey, who owns the former Community Care Center building.
Once Hunley set up a lease and insurance, he toured the facility and found that all of the beds and other pieces of furniture were still in place. The staff cleaned all of it, while Stacey took care of other projects, including putting on a new roof.
“God had a plan. Where else would you walk in and everything be there that you need, just knock the dust off of it?” Hunley said. “It’s like an old Bible you don’t need sometimes, and we get away from the Bible, and you want to do your own thing, and you throw the Bible up on the shelf. But when you really need something, you knock the dust off of it, and you dig in. That’s what we’re doing here. We’re knocking the dust off.”
The facility has more than 50 rooms and will hold more than 100 men. Fourteen beds will be for detox, while 86 will be for transition. There also is a dining room, television room, fitness room, computer lab and salon.
The staff has developed a core curriculum, including career building, relapse prevention, group therapy, Bible study, Celebrate Recovery, Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Take the Steps (12 steps of recovery), Fixing My Finances and one-on-one counseling.
The men will be required to attend classes, and there will be a curfew. A van was donated to get them to and from jobs, which they will be required to obtain within the first two weeks.
Trosch said they will look for a six-month commitment from the men.
“The ultimate goal is to restore these men to their families,” he said. “Some will choose to leave sooner. Some may be ready but want to stay a little bit longer because they are afraid to go out there. They can’t get back in that environment (of drugs or alcohol). They need to be in a structured setting.”
Recovery ‘a lifelong thing’
Trosch said Todd’s Place will be a safe harbor for the men to get the tools they need to succeed. But even when they are ready to go out on their own, he said, recovery continues.
Even though he is 5½ years sober from his crack cocaine addiction, Trosch said, he still attends recovery meetings.
“I continue to go to meetings to remind myself I’m still a sick individual,” he said. “The disease of addiction never leaves you. It’s laying right below the surface, and in that one weak moment … it’s easy to fall back into that. So you have to continue to keep your relationship with God first, and then continue to go to meetings because (recovery) is a lifelong thing.”
All three staff members feel they are qualified to assess the men and teach the classes because they have dealt with their own addictions — Trosch with crack cocaine, Hunley with a variety of drugs and pain medication and Coomer with alcohol.
“He and I can spend 10 minutes with somebody and tell if they are for real or not,” Trosch said of himself and Hunley. “Sometimes, they’ll be for real and get on down the road and realize this is too much work for them and they aren’t ready. We’re looking for guys that want to change their life.”
They also will have the resources of The Salvation Army since Hunley and Trosch both went through its rehabilitation center as clients and employees.
Hunley was involved with drugs off and on for about 25 years, winding up with 19 felony charges against him and going in and out of jails more than 30 times. He went to The Salvation Army in 2010 before landing in a transitional house in Salem, but he reverted to drugs after the death of his wife.
‘Just got worse and worse’
In 2012, he returned to The Salvation Army and has kept drugs out of his life since then. He met Trosch during his two stints there.
When Trosch was 35, he had owned six pizza restaurants for 10 years. But during that time, he worked around 80 hours per week and didn’t have a social network.
“I found myself with a boatload of money and no friends, and someone introduces me to crack cocaine, and it was just a nightmare from there,” he said. “I thought, ‘This is the greatest thing that was ever made.’ I could do it by myself and entertain myself, and it just got worse and worse.”
He sold his restaurants for $350,000 apiece and blew all of that money — more than $2 million — on drugs. He then turned to shoplifting and selling items to get money for drugs. He, too, ended up with 19 felony charges against him.
“I lost two houses, lost several apartments and was living in a crack house so disgusting I can’t even describe how awful it was,” he said. “It was horrible. It was something out of a horror movie, it really was.”
After his final time being arrested and facing the same judge for a second time, Trosch realized he had to turn his life around. The Salvation Army helped him do that.
“It always occurred to me that I did a good job running my life. But finally, you come to that point where you go, ‘Wait a minute, how can I get arrested 19 times and really be doing a good job running my life?’” he said. “That’s a lie I told myself. The Salvation Army really brought that all together. You finally have to admit who you are.”
Trosch went on to earn a degree to be a chaplain and was ordained Jan. 8. He started teaching classes at Noah Transitional Housing Program and reconnected with Hunley.
Hunley shared his plans of starting a faith-based facility in Seymour and eventually talked Trosch, who lives in Fishers, into joining the staff.
“I believe in Kris and what he’s doing here,” Trosch said. “This is going to be a powerful, changing force in the community, it really is. Seymour has just been fantastic. … Everywhere we go, we’ve gotten so much support, and they’ve really fallen over themselves to help us. You can tell the people in Seymour have the political will to want to change some things.”
Hunley said a lot of people in the area have contacted him about the facility.
“The need is very bad, and they just can’t wait for these doors to get open,” he said. “We just want to give hope to the hopeless. That’s what we’re all about. God has a calling on this building, and he’s got a calling on all of our lives. Guys don’t have to go back to that hopeless situation anymore. They don’t have to go back to jail. We can break that trend. This is going to be a trend-breaker.”
After the fundraiser, Hunley said, they will work toward becoming a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization so they can pursue grants and corporate donations to keep the facility going.
“This is going to last for a long time,” he said. “We’re going to touch many lives.”
What: Fundraiser for Todd’s Place Transitional Housing and Detox Facility
When: 2 p.m. Aug. 22
Where: At the former Community Care Center building at 4990 U.S. 31 North, Seymour
Who: The public is invited.
Activities: Hog roast, music and preaching by Redemption’s Cross, Pastor Jeff Mullins, envoy Steve McNary from The Salvation Army, Elevation praise team, Pastor Gary Satterly, Pastor Daniel Trosch, Kyle McIntosh and The Colwells.
Tickets or information: Kristopher Hunley at 812-525-9973, Angie Coomer at 812-530-6313 or Daniel Trosch at 317-910-4217