Renewal Ranch is quickly evolving into the kind of place that can heal the heart, thanks to many volunteers and individuals who have taken the time to care.

The ranch was recently awarded $20,000 by The Home Depot Foundation, and on Thursday, around 50 local builders, independent contractors, equipment operators and individuals teamed up with 45 associates from Home Depot to help raise the frame of the ranch’s first dormitory during the Team Depot Build Day.   

The Home Depot Foundation’s community grant program supports the work that local nonprofit organizations, public schools and other community organizations are doing to improve the physical health of their neighborhoods. 

The 94-acre property is located just inside Perry County in Houston and is a faith-based, long-term rehabilitation program for adult men who struggle with chemical addictions.  

The program is modeled after the John 3:16 Ministry in Batesville and will open to six men in November.

The ranch will offer a six-month program, partnering with local churches and colleges to provide Bible instruction and instruction in skill sets to the men.

Founder and program director James Loy said he became addicted to cocaine in college following the death of his father and, years later, the death of his mother, before finding himself homeless and caught in a "vicious cycle of addiction."  

Loy sought the help of the John 3:16 Ministry and completed the rehabilitation program, and he is now employed at Home Depot in Conway.

"We became interested when James approached us and said that he was interested," said Gary Metheny, a regional manager with Home Depot. "Home Depot’s mission is to give back to the community. We have employees here working off of the clock because it’s the right thing to do." 

Metheny stressed that giving back to the community also means giving the rehabilitated another chance. 

"James was someone with a serious problem, but he came through it and has done great," Metheny said. "I think it’s important that employers give these folks a chance. They make great employees. They have been through a lot and are usually extremely grateful for having another chance." 

Volunteer Gail Jones agreed. 

"We want to be able to fix them here, so that they can go out and become productive citizens," Jones said. "We want to fix them so that they don’t have to be put in prison and have that bad experience and also so that the taxpayers don’t have that expense."

Housing costs at the ranch are estimated at $33 a day per person. 

Secular rehabilitation facilities cost around $150 to $1,500 a day, and housing a person who goes without treatment in the Arkansas Department of Corrections costs $130 a day.

Vickie Critcher is on the Renewal Ranch Board of Directors. Critcher said that she worked to raise funds for John 3:16 Ministries before becoming involved with Renewal Ranch. 

"When I look around and I see this happening, I just think ‘this is how God works,’" Critcher said. 

She added that work will continue over the next several weeks and additional volunteers will be needed to assist with heavy equipment operation, plumbing, electrical work and roofing.

Those interested in volunteering may contact Loy at 501-680-4895. Tax deductible donations may be made by sending a check to Cornerstone Bible Church (c/o Renewal Ranch), 1905 Dave Ward Drive, Conway, AR 72034.

(Staff writer Megan Reynolds can be reached by e-mail at megan.reynolds@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1277. To comment on this story and others, visit www.thecabin.net)