COEUR d'ALENE - Siblings Jacob and Adella Eckstein share memories of a dark time in their lives.
They spent more than 15 years enslaved to various drugs, trapped in a world of addiction. They used opiates, meth, alcohol and anything they could to get high. Jacob, 30, walked a shaky tightrope between overdose and suicide.
"I was completely just gone. I didn't know what was day and what was night," he said. "I covered up all the mirrors around the house because I couldn't look at myself. I hated what I was doing and I hated what I was doing to my family."
Adella, 34, failed to be a mom to her children, who were then in someone else's care. She buckled under the weight of the chemical dependencies that pushed her body to the limit.
"I was 90 pounds, but had 900 pounds of guilt and shame on me," she said.
The two lived with a drug dealer in 2012 when that world of self-destruction finally collapsed. They got into a raucous fight that destroyed their home and, not knowing where to turn, Jacob called their sister, Natalie.
"I didn't want to be a part of their chaotic life, I just didn't want them to die. I was so afraid for them. But I was pretty much just done with their garbage," said Natalie, 32. "It was through God that I was so calm. I just hung up the phone and called 911 and told them, 'You need to go to this house. There's two drug addicts, they're beating each other up, you need to go arrest both of them.' Then I hung up the phone and went back to work. That's all I could do."
By a stroke of luck, or maybe divine intervention, the two found themselves in Pastor Tim Remington's faith-based Good Samaritan Rehabilitation program, where their bodies detoxed, their minds cleared and their hearts opened to Jesus Christ as well as to their fellow human beings. The program for men is 60 days and 120 days for women, but because of Jacob's jail time following that fateful evening, the brother and sister shared a special moment in their new lives of sobriety.
"I started counting the days and I realized, 'If he comes in a month, we're going to graduate on the same day,'" Adella said with a beaming smile. "That doesn't happen. On Jan. 27 (2013), we stood on stage together, and got to graduate together."
Those who enter the Good Samaritan program are expected to follow strict rules - no visitors, no TV, no makeup, no violence, no personal money, no naps, no phone calls and many more. They live either at the women's ranch or one of the men's ranches, where they're up at 6 a.m. every day and have plenty to keep them busy, from Bible study and Moral Reconation Therapy (structured cognitive-behavioral therapy that involves moral reasoning and better decision making; "reconation" comes from the term "conative," the process of making conscious decisions), to relapse prevention and household chores. It's a $2,500 fee to enroll, with scholarship opportunities.
After the intensive in-house treatments, Good Sam grads stay in transitional homes and often become mentors for others in the program. Adella oversees a Coeur d'Alene women's home that houses five women and 11 kids, including her own, and she lives to help others triumph over their addictions.
"The Lord has blessed me with living at the ranch," she said. "The Lord just keeps providing. My life is a ministry."
Jacob also has found his calling as a youth pastor at The Altar, and remembers being welcomed into the program with open arms.
"When I knew that this program was going to work for me was when I entered into the church, my very first day," he said. "They introduced me and they said, 'This is Jacob, he's going to be in your house,' and every single guy stood up and gave me a hug and said, 'You're home.'
"It's that unconditional love this program shows through Jesus Christ."
Jacob and Adella are not alone in their 180-degree turnaround since entering the program. Caleigh and Zac Daley of Hayden met through the program in 2013, married in December 2014 and are expecting their first child in September. Both struggled with drugs, alcohol and the law for many years, but have given their lives to Jesus and are active in mentoring other graduates. They've opened their home to a few of the men fresh from the program and they are hoping to expand their home to help more.
"They just live here and grow and embrace all the principles we learn in the program. We just kind of help them along," said Zac, 33. "It's really rewarding. People took time out of their lives to do that for us. This is our way of paying forward and doing what we feel God is pushing us to do.
"We've never been role models for anybody before. All our lives we've been a role model for the other side, so to be an example of what's good and what can be wholesome in this world is indescribable."
Caleigh, 22, also volunteers with the women's ranch weekly. She said the Good Samaritan program teaches people how to "relearn what it's like to be an actual human and work for what you have rather than decide to just take it from people.
"It's wonderful to be able to see girls that have gone through the same thing or that have a drug issue and are trying to figure out where truth is, where truth is, find God," Caleigh said. "To be able to help them see that is probably one of the most rewarding things I have ever done."
• About Good Samaritan Rehabilitation
Good Samaritan Rehabilitation is a nonprofit program that has been helping change lives in the community for 13 years. It depends on donations and financial assistance to help with scholarships, general upkeep and bringing more people into the program.
One main source of support for the program is the Good Samaritan Rehabilitation Thrift Store, located at 1610 N. Fourth St. in Coeur d'Alene. On April 1, it will be celebrating its first year of being open.
Many of the program's graduates become active in mentoring others and volunteer at the program's homes, The Altar Church or the thrift store.
"This is what we are all about," said store manager Nancy Cafferty. "It is amazing." Info: www.goodsamrehabilitation.org
Before leaving for work, Ali Gale and her 6-month-old daughter Evangeline say good-bye to house overseer Adella Eckstein, far right, and another member of the home.
Hailey Rojo, 8, left, prays alongside her sister Jeannette, 11, before eating breakfast.
Mandi Ramirez, 7, visits with another child over breakfast at the Good Samaritan women’s home.