Cody home offers sober living for women in recovery

Fundraiser set for Saturday

Posted 9/28/23

After watching parents in Park County struggle with addiction, and struggle to regain custody of their children, Candace Anderson and her husband felt called to do something about it.

Parents in …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Cody home offers sober living for women in recovery

Fundraiser set for Saturday


After watching parents in Park County struggle with addiction, and struggle to regain custody of their children, Candace Anderson and her husband felt called to do something about it.

Parents in the court system are generally required to stay sober, remain in a treatment program, secure a safe place to live and hold a steady job as they seek to work to reunite with their kids.

“[Those are] easy things for parents who are healthy,” Anderson said. “But you put in those chains of addiction and just getting clean and sober is so much work. And then add on the parenting and then the job, and it just was so much.”

In 2020, she and husband Donny decided to start a nonprofit organization and open their own home to women in recovery. Ezekiel 37 Ministries was able to expand in June, moving out of the Andersons’ rural Cody residence to a house in town, just off Big Horn Avenue. Instead of being limited to three women at a time, the organization will soon be able to host six or seven, along with their children.

“The Lord provided so well,” said Anderson, who serves as the organization’s executive director. “He’s been so good to this ministry.”


Seeing success

Ezekiel 37 Ministries has helped upwards of a dozen women so far, she said, with the success rate around 80%. One of those success stories was shared in Park County District Court on Tuesday, when Chelsea Velker appeared for sentencing.

Velker was in court for stealing thousands of dollars worth of items from two Powell businesses and writing fraudulent checks from an employer’s account in Cody in late 2020 and early 2021. It was far from Velker’s first brush with the law — she received a three- to five-year prison sentence in 2017, for example — so there was some skepticism when she was released on bond in March 2022.

After watching Velker go in and out of court for 10 or 15 years, defense attorney Tim Blatt admitted he wasn’t sure his client would be able to stay out of trouble. But “she’s proved me wrong,” Blatt said Tuesday, saying he’s observed a significant, positive change in Velker’s life.

“I think she’ll continue to show the court that she can be successful,” Blatt said.

In her remarks to the court, Velker expressed gratitude for the opportunity to participate in Park County Drug Court and in Ezekiel 37 Ministries. She had gone straight from jail to the Andersons’ home and spent about a year in the program.

“They made a really important leg up with their resources and their help,” Velker said of the ministry.

She told the court she started misusing narcotics as a teenager, with prescribed pain medication starting her on a “downward spiral.” But Velker said the skills and support she received over the past year-and-a-half have changed her perspective — including helping her navigate some difficult situations in recent months.

She said it’s been “amazing to see how life looks through clean, sober eyes.”

“This is my first successful attempt, so to speak, at being an adult and a responsible human being and not just going through the motions,” Velker said. “I enjoy every moment that I have.”

Deputy Park County Prosecuting Attorney Jack Hatfield — who’d also been skeptical of Velker’s release — agreed with the defense and recommended that Velker receive a sentence of probation; Hatfield said she’d done so well on bond that he’d effectively forgotten that she still needed to be sentenced.

District Court Judge Bobbi Overfield went along with the recommendation as well, imposing three years of supervised probation in lieu of three to five years of prison time. The judge said Velker has shown she has the ability to be a successful mother, friend and employee.

“Once you have figured that out for yourself, which you have done, the door is open to you,” Overfield said.


A faith-based approach

The inspiration for Ezekiel 37 Ministries and the sober living home came from the Andersons’ time as foster parents, as many of the children they cared for had been taken away from parents addicted to drugs or alcohol.

“The Lord really showed us, ‘Let’s start fostering the parents,’” Anderson said.

There are good resources in Park County for parents suffering from addiction, she added, such as drug court, intensive outpatient treatment and area counselors. But there were no sober living homes to encourage parents to get their kids back and change their lives.

Ezekiel 37 Ministries takes in women (and their children), working with other agencies to provide wraparound services and “a good solid foundation for their sobriety,” Anderson said. The faith-based program seeks to “rewire” addicted brains and show there is hope — “and there's hope through Jesus,” Anderson said.

Along with case management and supervised visitation, the ministry provides transportation and advocacy, can help locate housing, connects women with counselors and offers life skill classes that range from parenting, budgeting and cooking.

Women must be in an aftercare program to qualify, as Ezekiel 37 Ministries is not a treatment facility.

It started as a 90-day program, but the nonprofit now offers stays of six months to two years. The ministry has a live-in house manager and a case manager, who are both volunteers.

“They’re able to utilize their knowledge of recovery and where they’ve been and how the Lord has worked in their life and to pour it into these women,” Anderson said. “They get out of it what they pour into it, and it’s a beautiful thing to watch.”

The case manager was actually the very first person the Andersons invited into their home three years ago. She’ll be among those to speak at a Saturday fundraiser for the organization, sharing her own story of recovery.


Seeking support

The event, slated for 5 p.m. Saturday at the Cody Auditorium, is Ezekiel 37 Ministries’ first-ever banquet.

The keynote speaker is Chris Debose of Montana, who will share how he feels God brought him out of crime and addiction and, eventually, into a career in law enforcement.

The free event will feature a raffle and silent auction, with two month’s worth of movie passes and a mountain lodge retreat package among the items up for grabs. Attendees can purchase dinner from the Rolling Stove food truck, which will be stationed outside the auditorium.

The event is intended in part to raise awareness, Anderson said, as many people have no idea that Park County has a sober living home or that Ezekiel 37 Ministries exists. It’s also an effort to raise funds, as the nonprofit relies on donations.

“Obviously, we need people to walk alongside of us and donate, and to help keep us going,” Anderson said.

Beyond needing support for the existing home for women in recovery, the hope is to ultimately raise the money needed to open a similar sober living program for men.

“Men deserve a chance too, they really do,” Anderson said, adding, “It’s a huge need.”

For more information, visit, call 307-213-0656 or email

Editor's note: This version corrects which volunteer was the first to go through Ezekiel 37 Ministries.