A local drug treatment program has a more than 80 percent success rate, according to a University study. But the program is largely under the radar. Former President George Bush once called it this area's best-kept secret.
Organizing racks of clothes has a much deeper meaning for Carol Suelflow. For her, the job represents recovery.
This is the only thrift store in Milwaukee run by recovering drug addicts.
"It's helped me get clean," said Suelflow. "It's restoring the relationship between my two daughters right now."
TODAY'S TMJ4 reporter Katie Crowther asked Suelflow what she would want her kids to know about their mom when they see this story.
"I want them to know that I love them and it wasn't any of their fault," said Suelflow. "They're not to blame for it."
Abuse by a family member pushed Carol into the wrong crowd at a young age.
"I did drugs to fit into them and before I knew it, I was addicted," said Suelflow. "I started using at 12 and my addiction got worse when I was 17."
It started with marijuana and alcohol and escalated to cocaine, meth and heroin.
But she's been drug-free for one year thanks to the Adult and Teen Challenge, a free 12-month residential rehab program in Milwaukee through the assemblies of god fellowship.
Carol said the start of the 12-month program was hard.
"I thought the journey was never going to end, but through it all, I became a stronger woman," she said.
The program includes a very structured schedule, therapy and daily work at the thrift store near 91st and Appleton or at an on-site greenhouse, car wash and woodworking shop.
The woodworking shop is where we found Dan, who's there to overcome an addiction to pain pills after a high school injury.
"Self-worth starts to rise and that's where success comes," said Program Director Jennifer Harper.
Jennifer Harper is a program director, working to help more addicts and families.
"We've kind of got a giant map of the city of Milwaukee and all the surrounding areas and we strategically go out to each neighborhood," she said.
Witnessing the transformations that can happen over 12 months is what makes it so worth it.
"That's a real, real blessing for us," said Harper
It also offers help for addicts who relapse or those transitioning back to normal life. It's for adults 18 and older, but it can refer younger people to a sister facility.
For more information call 414-748-HELP or visit their website.