Mickey Ashpole (L), a Wawasee High School graduate, is the co-founder and executive director of Allendale Treatment; Tommy Streeter (R), a Warsaw Community High School graduate, is the community outreach coordinator with Fort Wayne Recovery. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
Mickey Ashpole (L), a Wawasee High School graduate, is the co-founder and executive director of Allendale Treatment; Tommy Streeter (R), a Warsaw Community High School graduate, is the community outreach coordinator with Fort Wayne Recovery. Photo by David Slone, Times-Union.
AUBURN – Two men from Kosciusko County, who have battled their own drug addictions, are part of a first-for-northeast Indiana detox treatment center in Auburn.

Mickey Ashpole, a Wawasee High School graduate, is the co-founder and executive director of Allendale Treatment. Tommy Streeter, a Warsaw Community High School graduate, is the community outreach coordinator with Fort Wayne Recovery, the team behind Allendale Treatment. Both men attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony Friday for the new facility at 5419 CR 427, Auburn.

Starting off Friday’s ceremony, Ashpole said, “This is something that we’ve been trying to do for several years now and it just took the right blend of people to make it come together.”

After Ashpole recognized those people, Mary Martin, the regional director for Indiana Sen. Mike Braun’s office, spoke on the senator’s behalf.

“As a member of the United States Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, the senator knows the importance of combatting addiction. Indiana is one of the hardest-hit states in terms of opioid addiction. We must all do our part to save Hoosiers’ lives. Thank you for taking this decisive action in pursuit of this goal,” she said.

Allen County Health Commissioner Dr. Deborah McMahan said the detox treatment center was a “hard-won accomplishment.” She said that the COVID pandemic is a serious issue now and in the future, “but make no mistake, the problem of addiction is still continuing. And my concern is, with all of the issues associated with COVID, they actually may be increasing. So we can’t lose sight of these other important issues that are occurring in our community while we’re fighting the battle of COVID.”

She said she was glad to see the private detox/inpatient treatment center open even during the turmoil of the coronavirus pandemic. She paid a special tribute to Ashpole and said he has done so much in the time he’s been back in Indiana from Florida.

“The five years you’ve been here, you’ve sure made it count,” she said. “It’s really important when people struggle with an issue like addiction that they do tell their story because every little bit helps to destigmatize this medical problem. But it’s only helpful if, when people do develop a self-awareness as a result of your conversation, that they can go get help.”

For many years, McMahan said there weren’t a lot of resources in northeast Indiana. “In fact, we had virtually nothing. Five years ago, when you first came here, we had nothing to help people. So here we’re telling you, you’ve got a huge problem, it’s impacting not only you and your children, it’s a biological problem, but go help yourself. But thanks to Mickey and some other people in the community, we began to increase our resources to be able to help people with addiction, to really see it as a medical problem and offer the appropriate resources for them to be able to go through and achieve recovery,” she said.

The Allendale Treatment center is addressing the missing piece – a more comprehensive “induction” to therapy and detoxing that is really needed, McMahan said. She told Ashpole he made a “real commitment” and “we need more young people like you making an investment here in northeast Indiana so we can overcome a lot of these issues.”

Fort Wayne Police Department Capt. Kevin Hunter recalled when he and Ashpole went to a commissioners meeting about a year ago to get a facility like Allendale somewhere else. “We were met with such discord and disinformation, and I remember you left that being very disgusted and disheartened and defeated. And here we are today. I just think your tenacity is amazing. You’ve done great things for this community and northeast Indiana and will continue to help us in this struggle,” Hunter said.

Last year, he said, Fort Wayne and Allen County set a record for overdose deaths: 144. And from January to July of this year, “we are 42% higher than we were the same time last year on non-fatal overdoses. So COVID has definitely had an impact on drugs and people who use those drugs. And this facility is going to help people find their way back,” Hunter said.

Auburn Mayor Mike Ley said Allendale was one part of God’s plan to help the communities of Auburn and northeast Indiana deal with one of its systemic issues.

Before the ribbon-cutting and tours of the facility, Ashpole said there were a number of people who helped bring about the facility.

“We’ve all been fighting and working on this for a very long time, and it feels so good to finally have it come to fruition,” he said. “You know, thank you, all of you, for coming here and supporting this.”

He said when he went to that commissioners meeting in Churubusco, he said they heard what they hear all the time: “Yeah, that’s great. We need that. You should do that over there. Not here. Way over there, but not here. So it took probably 2-1/2 years to find a building zoned quickly where we could do this in, and luckily, we found it.”

Ashpole said he originally wanted to “do all of this in Warsaw, but Dr. McMahan put all of us into a room and said, ‘Come here.’ I’ve never seen anything like that, with a group of people, in that city, proactively working together to try to help solve their problems. Not just talking about it, but actually doing things.”

After the ceremony, Streeter said he’ll be working with Allendale Treatment as well as Fort Wayne Recovery. Other than the Bowen Center – which is great for what it’s able to do – he said there’s nothing really in Kosciusko County like Allendale. He said Allendale is here for “doing detox for people that are struggling, namely with substance use disorder. They don’t have to have that psyche aspect, as well. There’s not another private detox facility in northern Indiana. The closest one to Warsaw or Fort Wayne is in Indianapolis.”

According to a news release from Greater Fort Wayne Inc., Allendale Treatment “will become the only facility of its kind in the area, offering primary substance abuse disorder detox and stabilization. The team of master-level clinicians, nurses and medical staff focuses on individualized care and making withdrawal symptoms as manageable as possible.” The facility opens Aug. 17, Streeter said, and, “We’ve been looking forward to this for a long time.”

The center is equipped with amenities including hotel-quality accommodations, full-body massage chairs, acupuncture, yoga, catered meals and more.

Streeter provided a tour of the facility, showing that each room has three beds, and each bed has its own TV with earphones plugged into the earphones. There’s two common areas, each with a TV and one with games available, and a kitchen. Along with the 27 beds at Allendale, he said Fort Wayne Recovery has 27 beds in its sober-living program.

The new facility represents an investment of $1.8 million, the release states. It will initially create 20 new jobs, with the potential to grow the staff to 30 members.

Streeter, who went to treatment centers in Indianapolis as a heroin addict, and then worked for two other private facilities since he’s been sober, said, “There’s a reason that I work for Fort Wayne Recovery now. Just our program, our staff, in my personal opinion, is the best treatment center, not just in Indiana but definitely one of the best in the Midwest.”

If anyone wants help with drugs or alcohol, Streeter said they can call, text or email him anytime at 574-253-3189 and tommy@fortwaynerecovery.com. “I’ll do whatever I can to help out whoever is wanting help,” he said.

Learn more about Allendale on its website at allendaletreatment.com or call 833-338-6946.