[Hpn] Richland couple give ex-cons clean start

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Sun, 16 Dec 2007 19:13:27 -0500


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Richland couple give ex-cons clean start


http://www.tri-cityherald.com/tch/local/story/9523398p-9434133c.html


    =20
Published Sunday, December 16th, 2007

By John Trumbo, Herald staff writer

A small sign in the window of what used to be Washtub Willy's laundromat =
on Fruitland Avenue says a Bible study is held each Monday at noon.

That's where Dan, Mark, Bob, Robert, P.K. and a few other guys meet with =
attorney Greg Dow every week to read the Bible. It's one reason Dow and =
his wife, Carol Darley Dow, have invested themselves and a lot of money =
into providing a place to live for men whose last known address was a =
jail or prison cell.=20

"We want to fulfill scripture by loving others," Dow said. That has =
meant inviting ex-cons over for Thanksgiving dinner and providing them a =
room at Elijah House.=20

Elijah House actually is two addresses: 504 N. Fruitland Ave. in =
Kennewick, a seven-unit apartment complex, and the former 16-unit Jones =
Motel, also known as the Ninth and Lewis Apartments in Pasco.=20

The Richland couple are able to get more than 30 men off the streets =
with the low-rent, two-bedroom units. They collect about $300 to $425 a =
month from each man, including utilities and cable TV.=20

But there are rules. No drugs, no alcohol, no women staying overnight =
and no probation violations. Each facility has a no-nonsense house =
manager to enforce the rules.=20

Bible studies are optional.=20

Greg Dow, who has a law practice for bankruptcy, landlord/tenant and =
family law issues, said that three years of investing his life into the =
outreach has taught him that men who have broken lives need love more =
than anything else.=20

"I'd take a bullet for any one of them, and I know they would for me," =
he said after a recent Bible study.=20

"What we are trying to do is make Christians of former inmates and to =
see if we can reduce crime."=20

The clean and sober environment at Elijah House has proved itself, Dow =
said, noting that the Department of Corrections and the Benton-Franklin =
Community Action Committee seek him out for placements of =
soon-to-be-released inmates.=20

"I really have the utmost respect for (the Dows)," said Rick Runge, a =
Kennewick police detective who works with the Tri-City Metro Task Force. =


Runge said before the couple took over what was Washtub Willy's the task =
force officers were "hitting the place for drugs left and right all the =
time." But they haven't been called back in the three years since it =
became Elijah House.=20

Judith Gidley, executive director at Benton-Franklin Community Action =
Committee, said Elijah House takes some of the harder-to-serve cases.=20

"One of the key things we like is that it is clean and sober. People who =
have housing away from drugs and alcohol have a better chance. We wish =
we had more places like Elijah House," she said. "It is one of the first =
places we call when we need a place for someone."=20

Greg Dow said the need is constant.=20

"We get a lot of turnover. There's a lot of demand," he said.=20

Sometimes those calls involve Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders, who can =
have the toughest time finding a place to live.=20

More than half of the residents at the Pasco facility fit that profile. =
But Dow and Dan Ard, who has managed the Pasco apartments for seven =
years, say not one of their Level 2 or Level 3 residents has reoffended =
since Dow bought the property three years ago.=20

Carol Darley Dow, who has a video production business, said what they =
offer is love and a safe, nonjudgmental place for men who have been =
through jail or prison.=20

She explained that one of the most vulnerable times is when someone is =
released from jail. "That's where we want to catch them before they go =
wrong," she said.=20

But the love can be tough, if it has to be.=20

"If it is necessary, we will turn them in," Greg Dow said. "We hold them =
accountable because they are our friends."=20

"If they fall off the wagon, we stay in contact and try to be a constant =
in their lives. We have no agenda other than to be their friends," Carol =
Dow said.=20

Greg Dow said meeting weekly with the men for Bible study has helped him =
see how love can work.=20

"They see a caring environment, and it dawns on them that here is a =
family who is nonjudgmental. These guys really respond to that social =
interaction," he said.=20

Changing lives through Christian love isn't the Dows' only goal.=20

They also want to show that operating housing for former inmates, sex =
offenders and people who are mentally ill doesn't have to be a =
money-losing proposition.=20

Right now, the 16 units in Pasco are generating a small profit, Greg Dow =
said.=20

The seven Kennewick units are about $200 a month short of breaking even. =
But the Dows consider that not too bad because the rent money is paying =
off the $230,000 purchase price and allowing them to provide utilities =
and affordable rents.=20

"We want business people to see that this works both economically and =
with changed lives," he said.=20

Mark Bench has been managing the Fruitland property for Elijah House =
since July but has lived there for two years.=20

"What is happening here is awesome for these guys," said Bench, who =
includes himself in that comment. Having a place to stay and a =
responsible position is a big plus for Bench, 44.=20

"I had a hard life most of my life," Bench said. He was raised in a home =
with an abusive father who died when Bench was a teen. The family ended =
up living in a car, homeless in Southern California.=20

"We stayed wherever people wouldn't chase us off," he said.=20

Years later, his mother moved to the Tri-Cities to be closer to a =
relative.=20

Bench won't say why he and his mother didn't get along, but it involves =
unforgiveness.=20

He and a girlfriend had a son. They broke up and he spent the next =
decade doing drugs.=20

Since moving to the Tri-Cities 10 years ago, Bench slowly saw change in =
his life that led away from poor choices to becoming a Christian. He =
proudly displays a baptismal certificate from May 14, 2006, when Dow and =
his pastor, Lee Moses, dipped Bench into the Yakima River.=20

"I have a new family. It is love, something I haven't had in years. God =
has given me a way to love again," he said.=20

Others at Elijah House have the same opportunity.=20

"When they come out (of jail) they nave nothing to look forward to. Lots =
of times their families are out of state. The most important thing is =
this gives them an address," Bench said.=20

That's what Robert Conley, 44, needed when he called on the Fruitland =
apartments on Dec. 27, 2006.=20

Conley was in jail until the summer of 2006 on a drug charge. Upon his =
release in August, he set up camp under the Interstate 182 bridge over =
the Yakima River at Queensgate. Old habits quickly returned, and Conley =
soon was back in Benton County lock-up for another couple of months.=20

Conley's next abode was a travel trailer in Benton City, but it still =
was too close to the drug culture he seemed unable to shake.=20

Conley's Thanksgiving was a turkey dinner in jail.=20

When he got out, he was desperate.=20

"I had no place to go. My family had enough of me. I was the chief of =
screw-ups," Conley said.=20

"I prayed, God help me. God help me," he said.=20

The answer came from a contact in jail who suggested the Elijah House =
might help.=20

Conley moved in with just a sack full of clothes.=20

Today, he is working full time as a leader for a custodial crew, has a =
driver's license, a car and has been clean and sober just more than a =
year.=20

"I give all the glory to God for the significant change in my life," =
Conley said. "I got a 42-inch TV as a Christmas present to myself, and =
I'm paying my bills," he said proudly. He also volunteers each weekend =
as a cook at Faith Innkeepers in Kennewick, glad to share how his life =
has been changed for the better.=20

The small two-bedroom apartment also is home to Conley's roommate, Bob =
Keynon, 54. He has a similar story about poor choices, social =
associations and substance abuse.=20

But Keynon also has cancer. Surgery last week at Kadlec Medical Center =
in Kennewick was touch and go, but the former firefighter and power =
weightlifter said from his hospital bed Wednesday he was looking forward =
to going home in a couple of days.=20

"It is really good what (Greg and Carol Dow) are doing. You don't meet =
people like that very often," Keynon said.=20

"Having a place at Fruitland keeps me straight and helps me be =
responsible. I like being accepted. It's a family," Keynon said.=20

Keynon's greatest worry isn't his health or his future, it is his =
11-year-old son whom he hasn't seen or heard from in nearly six years.=20

"What I'd like for Christmas is to spend a day with him and his mother," =
he said.=20

There's little chance of that, even though the mother and son live in =
Walla Walla County. Keynon said his past behavior caused the separation, =
so he has to live with the results.=20

"He needs to have street smarts, but not the way I learned," Keynon =
said.=20

Regrets play big in the lives at Elijah House, both in Kennewick and =
Pasco.=20

"These guys are so beaten down they just want to be left alone," said =
Dan Ard, who keeps a close watch on the Pasco apartments for the Dows.=20

Ard, 52, is well-suited for the job. He's retired with more than 18 =
years in the Army, including service in Desert Storm, and not inclined =
to take guff from anyone.=20

"I've had guys who are some of the worst," he said. "They've lived on =
the street for years, but once they come here, they don't want to be =
anywhere else."=20

Ard's residents tend to present tougher social issues than those at the =
Fruitland facility because of mental illness and sex offender =
convictions.=20

But his track record speaks well for Elijah House.=20

"We've had no one reoffend in the nearly eight years I've been here," he =
said. A plaque given by the city of Pasco Crime-Free Multi-Housing =
program commends Ard. It hangs above his desk, displayed near some =
military service medals.=20

Public attitude against sex offenders, and Pasco's push to make it =
harder for them to live without public scrutiny, means fewer places will =
accept them, Ard said.=20

The Dows' response is to try not to turn anyone away.=20

"It's to the point where we are the only place who will take these guys =
anymore," Ard said.=20

Calls from probation officers looking to place a Level 3 offender come =
frequently, he said.=20

And sometimes the calls are from outside the Tri-Cities.=20

One recently came from Vancouver, Wash., where a Level 3 sex offender =
was rejected repeatedly in attempts to find shelter. He ended up camped =
out several freezing nights in the Department of Corrections parking lot =
with no other options.=20

Ard said as soon as Dow heard the story, he told Ard to find a place =
somewhere in Elijah House for the man.=20

"Greg and Carol have a heart for the homeless," Ard said.=20

"The public is cynical about what we are doing. But people forget, there =
are guys who are changed, who are productive," Carol Dow said.=20

Still, Conley said he knows how quickly he could fall back.=20

"It's a lot of hard work. It's easy to get clean, and a lot harder to =
stay clean. We are creatures of habit. The change comes from God," he =
said.

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<DIV><STRONG><SPAN class=3Dblack_head>Richland couple give ex-cons clean =

start</SPAN></STRONG></DIV>
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Component: TriCityHerald : component/stories/dateline_pub.comp -->
<P><I><FONT face=3D"Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif">Published Sunday, =
December 16th,=20
2007</I></P><!-- Component: TriCityHerald : =
component/stories/dateline_pub.comp -->
<P><B>By John Trumbo, Herald staff writer</B></P><SPAN class=3Dcopy>
<P>A small sign in the window of what used to be Washtub Willy's =
laundromat on=20
Fruitland Avenue says a Bible study is held each Monday at =
noon.</P></SPAN><SPAN=20
class=3Dcopy>
<P>That's where Dan, Mark, Bob, Robert, P.K. and a few other guys meet =
with=20
attorney Greg Dow every week to read the Bible. It's one reason Dow and =
his=20
wife, Carol Darley Dow, have invested themselves and a lot of money into =

providing a place to live for men whose last known address was a jail or =
prison=20
cell. </P>
<P>"We want to fulfill scripture by loving others," Dow said. That has =
meant=20
inviting ex-cons over for Thanksgiving dinner and providing them a room =
at=20
Elijah House. </P>
<P>Elijah House actually is two addresses: 504 N. Fruitland Ave. in =
Kennewick, a=20
seven-unit apartment complex, and the former 16-unit Jones Motel, also =
known as=20
the Ninth and Lewis Apartments in Pasco. </P>
<P>The Richland couple are able to get more than 30 men off the streets =
with the=20
low-rent, two-bedroom units. They collect about $300 to $425 a month =
from each=20
man, including utilities and cable TV. </P>
<P>But there are rules. No drugs, no alcohol, no women staying overnight =
and no=20
probation violations. Each facility has a no-nonsense house manager to =
enforce=20
the rules. </P>
<P>Bible studies are optional. </P>
<P>Greg Dow, who has a law practice for bankruptcy, landlord/tenant and =
family=20
law issues, said that three years of investing his life into the =
outreach has=20
taught him that men who have broken lives need love more than anything =
else.=20
</P>
<P>"I'd take a bullet for any one of them, and I know they would for =
me," he=20
said after a recent Bible study. </P>
<P>"What we are trying to do is make Christians of former inmates and to =
see if=20
we can reduce crime." </P>
<P>The clean and sober environment at Elijah House has proved itself, =
Dow said,=20
noting that the Department of Corrections and the Benton-Franklin =
Community=20
Action Committee seek him out for placements of soon-to-be-released =
inmates.=20
</P>
<P>"I really have the utmost respect for (the Dows)," said Rick Runge, a =

Kennewick police detective who works with the Tri-City Metro Task Force. =
</P>
<P>Runge said before the couple took over what was Washtub Willy's the =
task=20
force officers were "hitting the place for drugs left and right all the =
time."=20
But they haven't been called back in the three years since it became =
Elijah=20
House. </P>
<P>Judith Gidley, executive director at Benton-Franklin Community Action =

Committee, said Elijah House takes some of the harder-to-serve cases. =
</P>
<P>"One of the key things we like is that it is clean and sober. People =
who have=20
housing away from drugs and alcohol have a better chance. We wish we had =
more=20
places like Elijah House," she said. "It is one of the first places we =
call when=20
we need a place for someone." </P>
<P>Greg Dow said the need is constant. </P>
<P>"We get a lot of turnover. There's a lot of demand," he said. </P>
<P>Sometimes those calls involve Level 2 and Level 3 sex offenders, who =
can have=20
the toughest time finding a place to live. </P>
<P>More than half of the residents at the Pasco facility fit that =
profile. But=20
Dow and Dan Ard, who has managed the Pasco apartments for seven years, =
say not=20
one of their Level 2 or Level 3 residents has reoffended since Dow =
bought the=20
property three years ago. </P>
<P>Carol Darley Dow, who has a video production business, said what they =
offer=20
is love and a safe, nonjudgmental place for men who have been through =
jail or=20
prison. </P>
<P>She explained that one of the most vulnerable times is when someone =
is=20
released from jail. "That's where we want to catch them before they go =
wrong,"=20
she said. </P>
<P>But the love can be tough, if it has to be. </P>
<P>"If it is necessary, we will turn them in," Greg Dow said. "We hold =
them=20
accountable because they are our friends." </P>
<P>"If they fall off the wagon, we stay in contact and try to be a =
constant in=20
their lives. We have no agenda other than to be their friends," Carol =
Dow said.=20
</P>
<P>Greg Dow said meeting weekly with the men for Bible study has helped =
him see=20
how love can work. </P>
<P>"They see a caring environment, and it dawns on them that here is a =
family=20
who is nonjudgmental. These guys really respond to that social =
interaction," he=20
said. </P>
<P>Changing lives through Christian love isn't the Dows' only goal. </P>
<P>They also want to show that operating housing for former inmates, sex =

offenders and people who are mentally ill doesn't have to be a =
money-losing=20
proposition. </P>
<P>Right now, the 16 units in Pasco are generating a small profit, Greg =
Dow=20
said. </P>
<P>The seven Kennewick units are about $200 a month short of breaking =
even. But=20
the Dows consider that not too bad because the rent money is paying off =
the=20
$230,000 purchase price and allowing them to provide utilities and =
affordable=20
rents. </P>
<P>"We want business people to see that this works both economically and =
with=20
changed lives," he said. </P>
<P>Mark Bench has been managing the Fruitland property for Elijah House =
since=20
July but has lived there for two years. </P>
<P>"What is happening here is awesome for these guys," said Bench, who =
includes=20
himself in that comment. Having a place to stay and a responsible =
position is a=20
big plus for Bench, 44. </P>
<P>"I had a hard life most of my life," Bench said. He was raised in a =
home with=20
an abusive father who died when Bench was a teen. The family ended up =
living in=20
a car, homeless in Southern California. </P>
<P>"We stayed wherever people wouldn't chase us off," he said. </P>
<P>Years later, his mother moved to the Tri-Cities to be closer to a =
relative.=20
</P>
<P>Bench won't say why he and his mother didn't get along, but it =
involves=20
unforgiveness. </P>
<P>He and a girlfriend had a son. They broke up and he spent the next =
decade=20
doing drugs. </P>
<P>Since moving to the Tri-Cities 10 years ago, Bench slowly saw change =
in his=20
life that led away from poor choices to becoming a Christian. He proudly =

displays a baptismal certificate from May 14, 2006, when Dow and his =
pastor, Lee=20
Moses, dipped Bench into the Yakima River. </P>
<P>"I have a new family. It is love, something I haven't had in years. =
God has=20
given me a way to love again," he said. </P>
<P>Others at Elijah House have the same opportunity. </P>
<P>"When they come out (of jail) they nave nothing to look forward to. =
Lots of=20
times their families are out of state. The most important thing is this =
gives=20
them an address," Bench said. </P>
<P>That's what Robert Conley, 44, needed when he called on the Fruitland =

apartments on Dec. 27, 2006. </P>
<P>Conley was in jail until the summer of 2006 on a drug charge. Upon =
his=20
release in August, he set up camp under the Interstate 182 bridge over =
the=20
Yakima River at Queensgate. Old habits quickly returned, and Conley soon =
was=20
back in Benton County lock-up for another couple of months. </P>
<P>Conley's next abode was a travel trailer in Benton City, but it still =
was too=20
close to the drug culture he seemed unable to shake. </P>
<P>Conley's Thanksgiving was a turkey dinner in jail. </P>
<P>When he got out, he was desperate. </P>
<P>"I had no place to go. My family had enough of me. I was the chief of =

screw-ups," Conley said. </P>
<P>"I prayed, God help me. God help me," he said. </P>
<P>The answer came from a contact in jail who suggested the Elijah House =
might=20
help. </P>
<P>Conley moved in with just a sack full of clothes. </P>
<P>Today, he is working full time as a leader for a custodial crew, has =
a=20
driver's license, a car and has been clean and sober just more than a =
year. </P>
<P>"I give all the glory to God for the significant change in my life," =
Conley=20
said. "I got a 42-inch TV as a Christmas present to myself, and I'm =
paying my=20
bills," he said proudly. He also volunteers each weekend as a cook at =
Faith=20
Innkeepers in Kennewick, glad to share how his life has been changed for =
the=20
better. </P>
<P>The small two-bedroom apartment also is home to Conley's roommate, =
Bob=20
Keynon, 54. He has a similar story about poor choices, social =
associations and=20
substance abuse. </P>
<P>But Keynon also has cancer. Surgery last week at Kadlec Medical =
Center in=20
Kennewick was touch and go, but the former firefighter and power =
weightlifter=20
said from his hospital bed Wednesday he was looking forward to going =
home in a=20
couple of days. </P>
<P>"It is really good what (Greg and Carol Dow) are doing. You don't =
meet people=20
like that very often," Keynon said. </P>
<P>"Having a place at Fruitland keeps me straight and helps me be =
responsible. I=20
like being accepted. It's a family," Keynon said. </P>
<P>Keynon's greatest worry isn't his health or his future, it is his =
11-year-old=20
son whom he hasn't seen or heard from in nearly six years. </P>
<P>"What I'd like for Christmas is to spend a day with him and his =
mother," he=20
said. </P>
<P>There's little chance of that, even though the mother and son live in =
Walla=20
Walla County. Keynon said his past behavior caused the separation, so he =
has to=20
live with the results. </P>
<P>"He needs to have street smarts, but not the way I learned," Keynon =
said.=20
</P>
<P>Regrets play big in the lives at Elijah House, both in Kennewick and =
Pasco.=20
</P>
<P>"These guys are so beaten down they just want to be left alone," said =
Dan=20
Ard, who keeps a close watch on the Pasco apartments for the Dows. </P>
<P>Ard, 52, is well-suited for the job. He's retired with more than 18 =
years in=20
the Army, including service in Desert Storm, and not inclined to take =
guff from=20
anyone. </P>
<P>"I've had guys who are some of the worst," he said. "They've lived on =
the=20
street for years, but once they come here, they don't want to be =
anywhere else."=20
</P>
<P>Ard's residents tend to present tougher social issues than those at =
the=20
Fruitland facility because of mental illness and sex offender =
convictions. </P>
<P>But his track record speaks well for Elijah House. </P>
<P>"We've had no one reoffend in the nearly eight years I've been here," =
he=20
said. A plaque given by the city of Pasco Crime-Free Multi-Housing =
program=20
commends Ard. It hangs above his desk, displayed near some military =
service=20
medals. </P>
<P>Public attitude against sex offenders, and Pasco's push to make it =
harder for=20
them to live without public scrutiny, means fewer places will accept =
them, Ard=20
said. </P>
<P>The Dows' response is to try not to turn anyone away. </P>
<P>"It's to the point where we are the only place who will take these =
guys=20
anymore," Ard said. </P>
<P>Calls from probation officers looking to place a Level 3 offender =
come=20
frequently, he said. </P>
<P>And sometimes the calls are from outside the Tri-Cities. </P>
<P>One recently came from Vancouver, Wash., where a Level 3 sex offender =
was=20
rejected repeatedly in attempts to find shelter. He ended up camped out =
several=20
freezing nights in the Department of Corrections parking lot with no =
other=20
options. </P>
<P>Ard said as soon as Dow heard the story, he told Ard to find a place=20
somewhere in Elijah House for the man. </P>
<P>"Greg and Carol have a heart for the homeless," Ard said. </P>
<P>"The public is cynical about what we are doing. But people forget, =
there are=20
guys who are changed, who are productive," Carol Dow said. </P>
<P>Still, Conley said he knows how quickly he could fall back. </P>
<P>"It's a lot of hard work. It's easy to get clean, and a lot harder to =
stay=20
clean. We are creatures of habit. The change comes from God," he=20
said.</P></SPAN></FONT></BODY></HTML>

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