Serenity Star and Comfort Café to expand, increase offerings
Hospital authority donates two buildings so treatment center can add patients.
The Serenity Star treatment center and its sister business, the Comfort Café, which serves donation-based breakfast, lunch and dinner on weekends, has operated on First Street in Smithville nearly a decade. In that time, its ever-expanding operations have been squeezed onto one small city block despite an influx of clients seeking recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
Now, after a donation from the Smithville Hospital Authority, the center will have space for an additional 40 clients after its women’s and family programs relocate to a ranch on Jones Street. The move paves the way for an expansion of the Comfort Café into its adjoining building.
The hospital authority gave two retired metal buildings — formerly the pediatric and oncology units — to the center, which will now house the center’s women and family programs.
The structures will be moved to the 10-acre ranch, where the men’s program has been housed for six years.
“The women will actually have a home,” center co-founder Teri Costlow said. “Right now, they are in what originally began as emergency housing for women.”
Currently, families who want to live together at Serenity Star while in treatment check into a small rental house in town. The women set up in a small building downtown next to the Comfort Café, along a city block that also includes the treatment center’s donation-based yoga and meditation center.
Costlow said she believes it would be safer to have the women at the ranch, especially after an armed intruder barricaded himself inside the women’s dorm last year, firing several shots inside the building and refusing to come out for several hours despite hostage negotiations. He was eventually arrested by police, but after the incident, center staff were even more concerned about housing the women downtown.
Soon after, Serenity Star learned of the two buildings the Smithville hospital had available. Its board was having trouble selling them and decided to donate them to Serenity Star.
“We feel like we are helping people that need help,” Smithville Hospital Authority board President Bill Hector said. “They do a lot of good.”
With the added 5,000 square feet of space, the center will be able to house 100 patients. Currently, it has room for about 60. The buildings will also save the center money because the owners won’t have to lease a house in town for the family program.
With the building on First Street emptied out, the center has room to expand its popular café, which is bustling with customers. Costlow said staff plan to tear down the walls and open the old women’s dorm as a bakery and coffee bar with extra seating for patrons.
The new buildings join the men’s houses, gardens and wood shop at the ranch on Jones Street. Center staff have plans to add a sweat lodge, yoga studio and large community center in the coming months, and Costlow said she is looking for buildings to accommodate more services.
“It was always the plan to have the whole program at the ranch,” Costlow said. “Everyone is so excited.”
With the added 5,000 square feet of space, the center will be able to house 100 patients.
Ali Benham works on the mural leading into Serenity Star Recovery Center in Smithville recently. The mural is a symbolic representation of a recovering addict’s journey from darkness to light.