It takes a village: Ohana House opens its doors to women in recovery


When Michelle Standeford lost her second family member to addiction in Jan. 2016, she felt called to seek support for recovering addicts. She founded the Boone County nonprofit Youth & Family Health Network, an organization providing evidence-based education and holistic, results-oriented recovery programming in Boone County, in March of 2016.

“I started the movement by getting the Boone County Sheriff’s Office involved,” Standeford said. “I did personal interviews for three months with stakeholders in the county, identifying the gaps. Part of that gap was transitional housing.”

Earlier this year, Standeford’s vision came to life with the launch of Ohana House in Lebanon, a recovery home helping women make the transition from treatment or incarceration on drug-related charges back to independent living without falling into previous habits associated with their addiction. Ohana House opened in April and is at capacity with nine residents.

“It’s been a long time coming. There haven’t been any other options for women living in Boone County,” said Kristen Kelley, BCNY&FHN president. “Prior to this they would have to move out of the county and dislocate from family and friends. I like the location because they can walk to jobs and their support groups. It just seems like it all came together really well.”

Closing the treatment gap

The home is operated by BCNY&FHN. The organization works with the courts and probation systems to identify potential residents.

“When you get released from treatment or jail you’re in such a fragile state,” said Michelle Ziesmer, BCNY&FHN board member and leader of Ohana House’s advisory panel. “It’s so hard to learn to do all the things without substances. And you’re on your own, or can’t get a job or whatever the obstacle may be. It’s easier to go back to using again. I think housing is a huge issue that we might have scratched the surface on with the Ohana House, but there is still so much more need in our community.”

The organization also serves as a liaison between the jail and the resident.

“We help facilitate when they’re getting released so that we pick them up from the jail, and we take them immediately to our house,” Standeford said.

In July, the home received certification from the Indiana affiliate of the National Alliance of Recovery Residences.

“Prior to Indiana having a certification outlet, there was no accountability to this population,” Standeford said. “In Indiana all you (had) to have was two residents seeking treatment and the ability to get into meetings and you could call yourself a recovery house.”

The certification means the organization will be held to a standardized system of care.

“The residents are able to provide feedback online as to how our facility is being ran,” Standeford said.

The guidelines also can help potential residents when choosing a facility by providing a website with recovery homes’ meeting certification guidelines. The application process for certification is lengthy.

“We had to go through an application process that is pretty extensive,” Standeford said. “They go through your financials, methods of recovery, all the way down to daily schedules and staff.”

The recovery home, which opened in April and received certification in June from the Indiana affiliate of the National Alliance of Recovery Residences, is in Lebanon. Ohana House provides a safe, supportive environment for women to make the transition back to their everyday lives without falling into previous habits that were associated with their addiction. (Submitted photos)

Personal Connections

The home’s name was inspired by a sign in the office of Standeford’s colleague who lost a daughter to illness. Her surviving daughter created a sign for her that said, “Ohana means family. Family means no one gets left behind or forgotten.” In Hawaiian culture, the concept of ohana emphasizes families are bound together and members must work in tandem.

Many of the women on the Ohana House board have a close affiliation with addiction. Kelley previously worked in the Indiana Attorney General’s Office as the prescription drug abuse prevention coordinator. Ziesmer herself is in recovery. Standeford lost a son and a nephew to addiction during transition from treatment.

“Michelle (Standeford) works really hard and she wants to help everybody,” Kelley said. “If anybody contacts us through our website and asks for help, she tries to find treatment or resources. She’s just going above and beyond.”

An overdose awareness event will be conducted Sept. 12 at the Lebanon County Fairgrounds in the Annex room from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. For more, visit

Resources for Addiction

Narcotics Anonymous

For those currently facing addiction to any drug or alcohol

PAL (Parents of Addicted Loved

For parents of addicted loved ones

SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration)

This site allows you to securely and anonymously search by ZIP code for treatment facilities anywhere in the US.


Celebrate Recovery offers a Christian-based 12-step program for recovery.

Lifeline for

Support group for those who lost a loved one to an overdose.

Indiana Affiliation of Recovery

This site will list all recovery residences in Indiana that have the Indiana certification.

Mental Health America of Boone

This organization provides drug and alcohol advocacy along with resource and referral services.

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