In the late 1970’s, Volunteers of America expressed interest in opening a halfway house for women who were recovering from alcoholism. At the time, there were many such houses for men, but none for women.
Initial unsuccessful funding attempts were directed at both local and state governmental entities. At the suggestion of a local attorney, a proposal was presented to the Junior League of Lexington. The Junior League pledged $27,000 in seed money. Several local churches joined the effort and sufficient funding was secured to hire an executive director. The first director of the women’s halfway house held two degrees in the study of alcoholism (one from Holland and one from Belgium).
The founding Board of Directors was comprised of members of the Junior League, a judge, a television personality, a lawyer, a minister, and community volunteers. Some of the members were recovering alcoholics. Mrs. Louise Morris was the first Board President.
Zoning issues prevented immediate access to a house located at 536 West Third Street. As a result, the women’s halfway house opened its very first doors on the grounds of Eastern State Hospital. Six months later, the zoning battle was resolved and the program moved into a rented house on Third Street where it remained for six years. Originally called “Linden House”, the program’s name was later changed to “Chrysalis House” when the Board learned of another house called Linden House.
In 1981, Chrysalis House, which had since become independent from Volunteers of America and was the only women’s halfway house in Kentucky, approached the United Way of the Bluegrass for funding assistance. Although favorable toward the agency’s mission and program delivery, United Way did not like the fact that Chrysalis House did not own its facility. As a result, the Board of Directors began to search for a property to purchase and learned of a former fraternity house that was available. An extensive capital campaign was conducted to raise the funds needed to purchase the property. A subsequent six month effort, led by Junior League member, Zee Faulkner, resulted in nearly all of the renovations and furnishings being donated. Of ninety-seven vendors who were approached by Ms. Faulkner, only three did not contribute.
In 1984, Chrysalis House, now a United Way member agency, moved into its new home at 251 East Maxwell. The new facility allowed for the program’s capacity to be increased from ten to fourteen.
In November 1991, the Chrysalis House Program, located at 120 Chrysalis Court was created. It has current capacity for twenty women and five infants. The 10,000 square foot facility was actually two houses joined by new construction containing an institutional kitchen and bathroom.
In 1993, Chrysalis House was awarded a $1.8 million demonstration grant from the Center for Substance Treatment. The grant allowed the agency to open a supportive housing program for women and children. The Chrysalis Apartment Community was located at 381 Virginia Avenue in a three building complex consisting of twelve apartments, a licensed childcare center, and staff offices. There was no other program of its type in Kentucky.
In 2002, Chrysalis House moved the apartment community from Virginia Avenue to Serenity Place Apartments, located on Hill Rise Drive. Serenity Place is a 40-unit complex comprised of two- and three-bedroom apartments. Its mission is to provide decent, affordable permanent housing with supportive services in and alcohol and drug-free setting for both recovering substance abusers and their families.
In 2003, the Chrysalis Community Center on Hill Rise Drive opened. The community center provided an ideal setting for Chrysalis House to expand childcare services. Funded by the Center for Substance Abuse Prevention, the Chrysalis House Childcare Program provided an after-school and summer program for children of Chrysalis House clients as well as children from the surrounding community.
The expansion of Chrysalis House continues as the need for services continues. In 2004, a new Family Program opened on Hill Rise Drive adjacent to the Chrysalis House Community Center and the Serenity Apartment Program. This facility houses sixteen clients and their infant children.
Today, Chrysalis House provides comprehensive treatment and support services in a long-term continuum of care, from residential to independent living for recovering women and their children. Chrysalis House is the largest and oldest licensed treatment facility for women in the Commonwealth. A nonprofit agency, Chrysalis House is a United Way member agency and an affiliate of Bluegrass.org.