Fentanyl, Family, and Foul Turkey : Thanksgiving in the Halfway House

“When you really think about it, it’s just another fucking day.” 

Thanksgiving is on the horizon, and celebrations look different from family to family. Traditions alter drastically, however, when you live in a halfway house. 

Over the course of about three shifts, discussions with a friend from a Fort Collins-based halfway house revealed what Thanksgiving looks like on the inside. 

He detailed the daily schedule, to first establish general life in a halfway house. From about 4 A.M.-8 A.M. is breakfast, medication, and brief recreational time. 8AM.-1PM is recreation, medicine and lunchtime. From 1.P.M.-6:45 P.M. is outside time, dinner, and previously unattended medicine. From then till 4A.M is smoke, meds and shut down time. 

Many residents work as well, and receive certain passes to do so, as well as leisurely passes. Violating these can result in physical labor, and passes being revoked. 

Overall, the living situation was described as a slightly more calm experience than anticipated. All of this relates to the normal weeks, but how does Thanksgiving feel? 

“Almost no one goes to work that day. I’m pretty sure everything is closed. It really varies if you’re able to go out or not.” 

He proceeded to explain that while there are plenty who go out for Thanksgiving, the house is still quite full. “Most are on level 1 and can’t get a pass.” 

While the daily schedule remains mostly the same, it wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a special dinner. Residents can expect a meal consisting of turkey, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, and as it was explained to me, “Some fake ass stuffing.” “If you think it’s good, you’ve been in jail too long.” 

As the discussion of Thanksgiving continued, he began to paint a vivid picture of community between residents, putting a real emphasis on being together that day. 

He explained that multiple pass holders will come back with food from home to share with one another. “There’s a real sense of comradery when they bring food back, we can’t have it normally, and they know.” 

Alongside sharing food, members enjoy sitting down together over Thanksgiving sports. “The ones who stay will often watch football together, and it really helps. If it weren’t for this place, most of these guys would be on fentanyl.” 

Resources like narcan are readily available in the halfway house, as well as in some cases on Front Range campuses. While it cannot be distributed individually to students, it can be applied to them at the security office in emergency cases. No matter where Fort Collins residents are, drug help is available. 

While being away from home is often not the most desirable situation to be in for Thanksgiving, the members of the halfway house in no way are letting this hurt the community, or the spirit of giving.

I wish all the readers of the Front Page a happy Thanksgiving, and especially wish the best for our friends in the halfway house this holiday season.

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