Tears rolled down Jaime Stevenson's face Feb. 6 during the dedication of The Salvation Army's new women's residence and chapel.
Stevenson, 25, first came to the Salvation Army to avoid relapsing on methamphetamine and heroin. She credits her time there with helping her become drug-free.
She said her tears represented joy, excitement and ultimately triumph, both for her personal progress and The Salvation Army's advancements.
"I've been here since the very first day and I have seen these women come in here and it's saving people's lives," said Stevenson.
"This is such a big deal. It's the first time that Tampa has something like this for women—a safe place for them to go and recover. "
Stevenson is one of 30 women residing at the new adult rehabilitation center at 13815 N Salvation Army Lane, which opened on Dec. 3.
The faith-based program offers women workshops on coping with issues like domestic violence, relapse prevention and anger management.
Residents also go through individual and group counseling sessions several times a week. The facility houses a library, fitness center and laundry room with a tailor shop and mini hair salon.
Program director Kisha Choice said it's crucial to have a women's residency program, because men's and women's roads to recovery are vastly different.
"When men come into our programs they have a lot of insight on recovery and the 12-steps, but they don't have a lot of insight on the underlying stuff that's contributing to the addiction," Choice said. "With women, a lot of times they have been raped and beaten, or homeless, so they love learning recovery-specific things like the importance of building healthy relationships. But most importantly they learn they're walking into an environment where people really care about them."