Robin Keener, founder and executive director of The Homecoming Project

A dozen years ago, Robin Keener, 58, was preparing for retirement and eyeing up the RV lifestyle. However, Keener, who had recovered from substance abuse, instead heeded prodding from her sponsor, who told her, “You need to go out and help other women.”

With hard-won knowledge about addiction, Keener established The Homecoming Project, a residential home for women in recovery located in a residential area of Bel Air. Keener and her staff (most of whom have also been through recovery) surround women in services designed to maintain sobriety and upend previous lifestyles.Residents in the eight-bed facility must find and keep jobs. For a year, support staff help women resolve financial, family, educational and emotional troubles and ready them to set out on their own.Much of the guidance is also practical. At the Homecoming Project, women learn how to live a substance-free life in a world where they are surrounded by temptation.

“I buy crabs and teach them how to eat crabs without beer,” says Keener, who has maintained her policy of recovery without maintenance drugs such as methadone. “We are a drug-free facility. We change behaviors and lives.”

Katelyn Shephard now works as a program manager at Homecoming Project after completing her own recovery.

“Robin has the ability to see straight through to what the problems are, and she doesn’t sugar-coat things,” Shephard says. “She saved my life. It comes from a place that’s true and not driven by anything else.”

MATT BUTTON/THE AEGIS / Baltimore Sun Media Group
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