By Tegan Kraklio
Wilton residents Tim and Tami Leathers run a program called LifeHouse, which assists women out of drug addiction.
According to their website, they do this through “a non-denominational Christian faith-based program as well as education in life skills.”
They provide residents with their physical and mental needs and believe that “through Christ, grace, a sense of community and responsibility each woman can live a life of healing and freedom from addiction.”
“It feels good,” said Tami Leathers. “I mean, we’re excited and then some days nervous. But we know that God has called us to it, and that’s what we’ll do. We say, ‘when God calls you to it, he’s going to see you through it.’”
The Leathers started LifeHouse nearly a year ago and currently can handle four women, but are looking to expand to up to 12. Their new home location and some simple remodels will do this, along with their full-time dedication.
Tami Leathers left her job and Tim, the current chief-of-police in Wilton, has put in his resignation as well. After 15 years of service, his final day is set for Dec. 25.
“With my background, being in law enforcement, the one thing I always disliked about my job was I would take someone who was in a bad situation and just put them somewhere,” said Tim Leathers. “I kind of felt like my job as a police officer was just, I put people into prison and there was nothing I could do to get them out of their prison walls, which was addiction.”
In addition to leaving the police force, Leathers has also retired from ministry, saying goodbye to Heartland Fellowship Church after 17 years. The Leathers will continue their work at LifeHouse as chaplains in U.S. missions with Assemblies of God, where Tim had his ministerial license.
The Leathers say the partnership is valuable because it provides accountability and credibility.
“With us being under their umbrella we have both,” Tim Leathers said. “It’s easy, especially for 501c3, to kind of fly under the raider… doing things that’s not really right.”
The Leathers say they started the program because they saw the need.
“We knew that in our area, in the Muscatine and Cedar county area, there needed to be a home for women,” said Tami Leathers. “We had a girl right away who needed a place to go, and so immediately we took her in. And that was when we started talking. It was a mutual thing, it was like, ‘Let’s start this!’ We’ve always been pretty open with our home, and this just seemed like the next step.”
“Some people are like, ‘Well I would never let anybody live with me!’ but we did.”
Up until now, they say they have simply floated the cost.
“Now that [Tim’s] walking away from both of those positions, and I don’t have a paid position right now, it’s very different for us,” his wife said. “So that’s where we’re walking completely in faith.”
Without a regular income, they will rely entirely upon donations from churches and individuals who give on a monthly basis. They say there will not be any government funding. Despite this, they’re committed to their program being free of charge.
“The problem is that most of these women are coming out of jail, out of prison, or they’re coming off the streets, out of bad situations, and they don’t have money,” Tami Leathers said. “How are they going to get help if they’re supposed to have money, and they don’t? So, that is what we said we were going to do, is we were not going to charge them, and so that’s why we’re depending on other people to help us.”
The Leathers say they will not be counseling, other than spiritually. Instead, they will outsource the psychological and medical help the women will need.
“The approach that we’re going at LifeHouse with is, you know, we’ve kind of lived with this idea that Jesus always met a physical need before he met a spiritual need,” Tim Leathers said. “So, we have felt this strong compulsion to do the same; meet a physical need and then through relationship and through discipleship we can help meet a spiritual need.”
You can find out more about LifeHouse or apply for help in the program through their website at LifeHouseRanch.org, or by visiting the Leather’s home during their upcoming open house on Dec. 15 from 4-7 p.m. LifeHouse is located at 1594 300th St. in Wilton.