Trilogy House gets final touches before opening doors to recovering teen addicts

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From near the top of a ladder, Franky Amparo, of Bowen Painting, paints the eaves of a house on Poplar Street that was recently "given" to Trilogy by Providence St. Mary Medical Center for use in their mission of supporting addicted teens and their families. Further west on Poplar Street, the house sits almost in the shadow of the hospital. Thursday, June 9, 2011

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Rafael Villagomez rolls primer onto the interior walls of a house while other coworkers for Bowen Painting inspect their progress on the exterior of the house. The residence, at 515 W. Poplar was recently gifted for use to Trilogy by Providence St. Mary Medical Center and a number of local professionals have jumped in to help transform the house. Thursday, June 9, 2011

It looks like an ordinary house, seated on a modest lot on Poplar Street in Walla Walla. At seven decades old, it's more than earned the worn shingles and peeling facade.

Vacant or not, this house will have a job to do for youths recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, so Kris Bowen was getting busy on this perfect summer day.

He's part of Bowen Painting and has 10 or more traditional exterior painting jobs on his roster, but this job is a freebie. Two coats of "Olive Branch" will change the house from a bleached-out, pinky beige to more of a rich summery green, Bowen said.

The painter's work mirrors what will soon happen to those who use the building. Trilogy House, as the abode is now called, will be the headquarters of Trilogy Recovery Community.

Inside the renovated rooms, services will include family and youth support groups, yoga and meditation, a reading room and activities designed to create a place of healing. As the need evolves, so will offerings, board members said. Outside will feature a basketball hoop, for starters.

Trilogy staff and volunteers will help with referrals to local and national treatment options and partner with local health entities.

The program, founded in 2004, has forever been at the mercy of borrowed space from other organizations, said Kathie Yancey, a Trilogy board member helping coordinate house improvements.

"The one thing that kept Trilogy from liftoff was the right space. We needed a certain space to be fully functional."

The group approached a number of Walla Walla health-care agencies in an attempt to gain a more permanent location, she said. "No one offered any help of any kind," at least as far as real estate goes.

One only need to look just under the gentile and bucolic covers of the Walla Walla Valley to see the need for a group like Trilogy, she said. "People don't really comprehend the magnitude of the problem in this town. There is a great deal of need here and no one wants that to be part of their reality."

Steve Burdick, chief executive officer of Providence St. Mary Medical Center, and his board members did recognize the situation, however. When Trilogy board members met with Burdick, they were hoping the hospital could find a sliver of office space for the program, Yancey said.

For a few months, it looked like it would be the same answer they were used to -- "no" -- recalled Kathy Ketcham, Trilogy's founder and administrator. "Then they came back to us with a whole house."

And with a lease amount nearly too small to believe, Yancey said. "St. Mary understood the need and they stepped up to the plate."

Trilogy sees kids ages 12 and up, some new to addiction, others long-timers, said Ketcham. "We wouldn't turn anybody away."

It's a rare individual and family that hasn't been affected by drug and alcohol issues, said Yancey, who works as an emergency department nurse at St. Mary.

He's lost friends to substance use, and still others are in the process of killing themselves with it, said Dan Reid, project manager for Opp & Seibold General Construction.

That's what prompted him to become interested in Trilogy's work, he said.

And when the house offer cropped up, he was one of the first to tour the aging structure.

"He's a bright man," Yancey said about Reid, explaining that he took in the peeling paint, the layers of old flooring and problematic plumbing -- the house had been used for storage for various departments and every room was full, Ketcham said.

Nearly every inch would have to be reclaimed to adequately house humans, even for day use.

Reid proceeded to do what he does best -- muster the powers of construction within the Walla Walla Valley.

For the past many weeks, Trilogy House has seen nearly every kind of professional on its grounds who, like Bowen, are donating their time to the cause. All of the materials needed have been donated from local stores, as well.

"I have a young family," Bowen said, explaining that he and his wife moved here from Seattle for the very thing the work at Trilogy House represents. "We hoped to find a solid community. A project like this? It's nice to know the community cares."

And better to know there is a program to turn to if ever his family runs into a problem like that, he said.

He's loath to take any credit for the huge response from the contracting world, Reid said. "All I had to do was mention this. It's a universal thing everyone can identify with."

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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