Friends of Recovery Association
FORA, a 501 c3 nonprofit organization, has been advocating for Oxford Houses, transitional housing for people in recovery from drugs and alcohol, in Kansas since 1991.
There are 159 houses in Kansas (as of August 2022).
FORA provides the start up loan for all new houses in Kansas.
FORA provides mentoring, crisis intervention, conflict mediation, community liaison work and landlord negotiations.
FORA has helped thousands of individuals in recovery break away from the destructive pattern of addiction and become productive members of their communities.
According to a DePaul study, people who stay in an Oxford House for 15 months have an 80% success rate of still being clean and sober in 5 years.
FORA helps families stay together by establishing houses for men with children and women with children.
Friends of Recovery Association's mission is to support and collaborate with Oxford Houses in Kansas, which are self-supporting, democratically-operated homes for recovering individuals. Friends of Recovery and Oxford Houses assist service participants to attain and sustain recovery from substance addiction.
There is an Oxford House for every recovering individual in Kansas.
Friends of Recovery was started in 1991 by a task force formed at Asbury United Methodist Church, headed by Ed Stephenson and Harold and Ruth Keeling. Mr. Stephenson brought Oxford House founder Paul Molloy back to Kansas, where the first Oxford House was opened and is still open today, as Oxford House Santa Fe in Overland Park, Kansas.
The Oxford House Program
Oxford Houses is transitional living for people in recovery from alcohol and drug addiction. The houses are not a boarding house or a halfway house, but a home run democratically by the service participants themselves. If everyone pays their own way, does not drink or use, and abides by the democratic process, they may stay in an Oxford House as long as they wish.
Friends of Recovery Programs
Friends of Recovery (FORA) is the outreach organization supporting the Oxford Houses in Kansas. FORA programs include opening new Oxford Houses with federal block grant money, mediating in houses, case management and education.
Opening New Houses
Paul Molloy, using his influence with Capitol Hill, helped establish start-up loans for Oxford Houses worldwide. In 1988, Congress enacted P.L. 100-690, the Anti-Drug Abuse Act. This Act included a provision that required all states to establish a revolving loan fund to provide startup funds for groups wishing to open sober living environments based on the Oxford House model. The mandate was changed in 1990 to a permissive provision codified as 42 USC 300x-25.
Kansas has a revolving loan fund for Kansas Oxford Houses since 1993. A new house applies for the loan through FORA, which works with the chapter to open the new Oxford House.
Oxford Houses' case management includes attending house and chapter meetings, mediating disagreements between house members, landlords or neighbors. Monthly New Member orientations help Oxford House service participants understand the principles and traditions of Oxford House. Alumni, Chapters and Friends of Recovery offer workshops focusing on house officers, communications, and trauma-informed care.
Leigh Anne Larson
Leigh Anne, a person in long-term recovery, started her journey with the Kansas Oxford Houses
over fourteen years ago. She was a member of Oxford House Village, the first women’s Oxford
House in Kansas, found in Prairie Village, KS.
She started as an Outreach Coordinator for Friends of Recovery, working closely with the
recovery community, she assisted with launching almost a hundred new Oxford Houses during
her tenure. Leigh Anne has collaborated with local and state agencies, compiled resources for
service participants, developed community outreach partners, organized multiple recovery
events, cultivated fundraising streams, planned statewide workshops, and participated in
For the last three years, Leigh Anne has led the Aftercare group at Challenges easing group
discussion, encouraging group members to share their experiences, helping with their
problems, and overcoming complex challenges. She supplies positive reinforcement for group
members while respecting individual and group boundaries. The group fosters open and honest
communication supplying emotional and interpersonal experiences to build life success and
skills to promote change and healing, focusing on healthy choices.
The Friends of Recovery Board of Directors graciously extended the offer of Executive Director
in November 2019. With strategic and collaborative vigor, she envisions organizational
innovation to enhance the relevance and impact of recovery in the community.
Leigh Anne has developed membership programs, hosted events to educate, found new grant
opportunities as they arose, and charted an innovative path for the future of the Kansas Oxford
Houses by engaging and empowering staff and volunteers supporting Kansas Oxford Houses.
She has created a workplace to enable the staff to achieve the organization goals and support
its members and volunteers, built upon a foundation of equity and inclusion of services that
help society and reduce the stigma for people throughout all aspects of recovery.
As the Executive Director for Friends of Recovery, along with the joint strengths of an active,
engaged board, an outstanding staff, and strong volunteer support of the Kansans Oxford
Houses, an inclusive organization exists to aid anyone who wants the opportunity to find long-
term recovery. With a commitment to justice, diversity, equity, and inclusion, Leigh Anne will
ensure the financial strength and sustainability of Friends of Recovery.
Erica Hasler has a passion for helping, especially those who suffer from substance use disorder find longer term Recovery. She believes that with Oxford House and a program of recovery it is possible.
She has been an active member of the recovery community since 2014, she was quickly introduced to the Oxford House concept of transitional sober living. She has been a strong advocate ever since.
Erica became the Office Manager at the corporate office located in Overland Park in 2019. Her experience with the recovery community, community resources and excellent multi-tasking assist her in being a superb team member at FORA.
Outside of work Erica is a mother to her two wonderful girls. Her hobbies include camping and enjoying the outdoors with her significant other and children.
DJ Mecum has been a strong advocate for Oxford House since 2016. He has a passion for helping those who are living with substances misuse disorder find long term freedom from their addictions.
He became the Outreach Coordinator for the Kansas City Chapters in February of 2023. DJ’s experience with recovery resources, and excellent people skills make him an amazing asset to the FORA team.
Outside of work DJ is a father of 1 daughter. And his hobbies include traveling with his daughter and significant other. DJ is an avid BBQ foodie.
Ashley Hennessy is a woman in long term recovery who is dedicated to helping men and women struggling with addiction. With the experience she has gained from her personal recovery and struggles makes her very relatable and open-minded. Ashley is alumni from Oxford Houses in Topeka and has been very involved since the day she moved into an Oxford House and continues to do so which led her to achieve the Tony Perkins Service Work Award at the 2021 Oxford House World Convention.
She has been working in the recovery field for several years now which includes treatment centers, peer support and Outreach worker for Oxford House Inc. in Arizona.
Ashley joined the FORA staff as Part- time Outreach Coordinator in Topeka August of 2021 and recently became full-time as of October 2021. As an Outreach Coordinator Ashley’s duties include assisting the Topeka Area with expansion, training, presentations and networking with the community.
As an Oxford House Member, Oxford House Inc employee, and a woman in recovery gives her the skills and knowledge she needs to be an exceptional addition to the FORA team and the Topeka area.
Thomas Wanko is an Alumni member of Oxford House Chautauqua in Wichita. He resided in Oxford House for 4 years. His recovery date is February 2nd 1999. He has been an Outreach Coordinator with Friends of Recovery since 2013.
Bio Coming Soon!
Bio Coming Soon!
Jamie Whitfield has a passion for helping, the addict who still suffers in silence. She continues to deliver a message of hope in her daily life. Through treatment and having the life changing experiences that was given in an Oxford House, she believes not only do we recover, but we also thrive.
She has been a productive member of the recovery community since 2020. While she was a member of an Oxford House, she was given the opportunity to work at a Television Station as an Associate Producer, Video Editor and Television Talent. She airs on a weekly segment “Your Hour”. She talks about her journey and offers suggestions to others wanting to take the next steps. She also posts her segments on her YouTube channel “Recovery Matters”.
Jamie also currently works at Mirror Inc. as an Addiction Technician. She joined the FORA team as a Part-time Outreach Coordinator. She is a proud Alumna of Oxford House Alumni Association. With these jobs she feels she never works because she loves what she does for the Recovery Community. Through her job at Mirror Inc., she can educate people about Oxford House who are looking to find a safe and sober place to continue their recovery journey in an Oxford House.
Jill Schmidt entered recovery with an open mind to become the best version of herself. She has become very passionate about sobriety and wants to keep spreading the word on how great her life has become since she joined the recovery community in Topeka Kansas.
Jill became a member of Oxford House 9/13/2019 and has been an active member since. She had the opportunity to open Oxford House Ivy Rose in Topeka, where she now is an Alumna. Jill continues to support recovery and to help those who need a helping hand.
Jill joined the FORA January 1st, 2022, where she is a part-time outreach worker for Lawrence. She takes pride in the work that she does.
Jill is attending Washburn University to become a social worker and will graduate in May of 2023 to further her career to help others. She is a single mom of a 13-year-old girl who is always full of life. Jill is a country girl so anything outdoors she is always ready to do. Her favorite thing to do is playing Softball.
Bio Coming Soon!
Bio Coming Soon!
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Stephanie Curry is a recovering alcoholic, with multiple years of sobriety. She is an Alumna of Oxford House Serenity Hills, and actively participating in the Alumni Association for the Kansas City area. Stephanie has been a part of the Board of FORA for 3 years. She has served as Secretary and Treasurer for the Board. She is currently the Chair for Oxford House World Council and active in Oxford House State Association. Her full-time job is working for a drug and alcohol treatment facility in Lenexa KS.
Lenny’s history of success is directly related to his ability to plan and execute various strong strategies to increase system optimization along with developing and ensuring maintenance of efficient track record of data to lead major increase in company outcomes. When he moved back to Kansas City, he wanted to be a part of an organization that served a larger purpose in the community and meant something to him personally. Lenny found F.O.R.A. and knew he could utilize his skill set to help the board ensure all members of the program were given the tools to succeed both professionally and financially during their recovery.
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Deborah is a community member on the board. She has seen the effects of addiction on families and students during her 34 years as an educator with 21 years as a school administrator. She has also seen the positive results of people living in Oxford Houses and is committed to educating the public on the benefits of recovery and the alliance between Friends of Recovery and Oxford House.
Bio coming soon!