Megan’s House – A Residential Treatment Home for Women
There’s a plaque above MaryBeth Murphy’s desk that reads: “You cannot control the direction of the wind but you can adjust your sails.” This adage isn’t just personal wisdom; it is a guiding principle in her life and in the lives of those under her watch. Murphy is the program director at Megan’s House, Lowell’s newest residential treatment facility for women. She works to keep the young women who live there from being swept away by addiction.
Nearing its one-year anniversary, Megan’s House is the brainchild of Tim Grover, whose daughter Megan lost her battle with addiction on Dec. 30, 2014. The facility is funded by The Megan House Foundation, a nonprofit organization headed by Grover. His aim was to establish a long-term facility where residents could stay after the two-week “detoxification” period that’s common at most of the other hundred or so facilities in the Merrimack Valley. When Megan died before the project was fully realized, Grover continued on. Persevering despite his own grief, his new goal was to save other young women from a similar fate.
Grover, 52, the founder and executive vice president of Madison Security Group, procured the multi-acre parcel in January 2015 and immediately began the renovation. An abandoned school on the property would serve as the primary residence, treatment facility and safe haven for the women who would come there. In a subtle but powerfully symbolic process, the building was rehabbed to serve as a rehab. First, the toxic elements were cleaned out and disposed of. Then the walls were removed. From there, a systematic rebuilding began, ultimately producing a functional structure whose inner beauty matched its exterior glamour.
Although the building is mostly completed and fully occupied, improvements to the property are ongoing. To help fund the foundation, Grover subdivided the acreage and built four single-family homes. Two of the houses will be sold, one already has, and the fourth will be raffled off — to help offset operating costs. Grover is quick to point out that he couldn’t have done it alone, citing large amounts of volunteer work by contractors, as well as neighborhood and municipal cooperation. From Lowell’s YouthBuild to several area plumbers, electricians and various other craftsmen, Megan’s House and the abutting new homes were completed at minimal cost. Two of the volunteers, Phillip Gagnon and Luis Santos, say they were glad to contribute because they know of people who suffer from addiction.
“We just want to give back to help keep Megan’s House operating,” they say.
Indeed, the entire project has been a communal effort. “These are everyone’s girls,” Murphy says. “They are the daughters and mothers and friends of people just
Inside Megan’s House, the women are insulated from the horrors and wounds of the raging conflict they escaped. They arrive via court orders, family pleadings and the self-identified need to get, and stay, clean. Murphy demands commitments from the women, who range in age from 18 to 26. From then on, the residents have an escalating set of freedoms and responsibilities. “Just like in the real world,” one resident is quick to confirm.
“In here, we teach them much more than how to stay clean. We teach them life skills, goal-setting and personal responsibility,” Murphy says. Those lessons are reinforced with a strict set of rules, expectations and chores.
One resident, identified as KK, explains: “We were always motivated to do the wrong thing. Now we find pleasure in each other and have discovered ways to have fun while sober.” They interact like a family, finding support, comfort and fellowship among their ranks.
To read an extensive look at the fight against opioid addiction in the Merrimack Valley, pick up the September/October issue of Merrimack Valley Magazine, on sale now. Click here.