By CHRIS BATES
Nine years ago, MCL published a story on The McCoy House in Jackson. At the time, it was a relatively new program, founded in 2008 as a sanctuary for women to heal from addiction. Since then the core focus has remained, but the campus and scope of service have grown. MCL columnist Chris Bates recently toured the campus and interviewed founder and CEO Denise Marsters, who was born in Ireland but got sober in Jackson. “God does not pick the equipped, He equips the picked,” she says. “It’s all God’s grace; it isn’t me or any of us individually that make this mission happen.”
Chris Bates: Describe how The McCoy House mission has evolved.
Denise Marsters: Since 2008, over 700 women have gone through the program here, which is phenomenal. Many have integrated into the Jackson area, into the recovery community, and have in turn helped other women. A couple of years after we opened, we got our 501(c)3 designation and began accepting donations of all sorts.
Originally our work was focused on serving women with substance abuse issues. We have evolved significantly into serving those with co-occurring disorders. That means there is substance use, but there may also be eating disorders, process addictions such as spending or gambling, plus other behavioral health issues such as anxiety or depression. Most of our women have a history of some sort of trauma.
We are set up for six beds currently so that we can have a very focused, high level of care. One of our program processes with clients, for example, is a daily check-in called MEPS — where are you mentally, emotionally, physically and spiritually.
Jackson is a great community in which to get sober … There is plenty of recovery and healing room (but) without the huge distractions and stimulation of large metro cities or destination areas.
CB: The campus has grown a lot. What are the newer additions?
DM: We have built a full-sized labyrinth, a sweat lodge and a vegetable garden. The main house was refurbished and upgraded during COVID, and more recently an art studio was added where our art therapist works with our clients. We have added a yoga teacher and provide equine therapy at a farm in Flora through a partnership with Equine Solutions. There is now a low elements ropes course, and following treatment we provide therapeutic support.
It has all happened through lots of community support. Pinelake Church, Eagle Scouts, Horne LLP, Southern Farm Bureau and many others come and do volunteer work, make donations of time, money and more. The outpouring of love, donated time and money are what are making this mission happen.
Also we added Mercy Lodge as an adjacent retreat center connected with the grounds, set up to serve the recovery community in the Jackson area, not just the women at McCoy House. There are even fish in the ponds!
One of the biggest additions has been The Real McCoy store. (The) store is now at 5482 North State Street and has grown due to donations from great people and businesses in the community such as Repeat Street, Bloomingdeals, Cynthia McCool Auctions, Leapfrog, Private Collection and many others. … The women in the program often work there and grow many needed skills.
CB: Tell us about the big event you have coming up.
DM: Yes! The event is “Country and Blues ROCK for Recovery” on October 20 at Duling Hall (in Jackson). There will be tons of food provided by The Manship, a great silent auction, and the band is Luckenbach, a Willie Nelson tribute band. The event is alcohol-free and it is for the entire recovery community. We’ve worked to keep the ticket price down to $25. Tickets are (available at) TheMcCoyHouse.com, the thrift store, or at Duling Hall the night of the event.
Miracles do happen here in Jackson and throughout Mississippi. We live in the most giving state in the U.S., and McCoy House is a result of that. … We want for this event to celebrate all of those things.
CB: What’s next for McCoy House?
DM: The big dream is to build the chapel on the grounds. Grover Greer is the name inspiration for a garden and the chapel. He was Elvis’ gardener, and then ended up in Jackson and impacted the entire recovery community here. We want it to be a (place) for women in recovery to be able to make spiritual connections as their inner source for strength.
It takes the brain at least 90 days but up to a year to practice new disciplines and behaviors. The spiritual part of recovery is foundational.
Chris Bates is CEO and co-founder of AgoraEversole a full-service marketing agency in Jackson, and can be reached at Chris@AgoraEversole.com. He and his wife, Stacy, and their children live in Madison.