Lynne’s House grows, offers more Christian rehabilitation options for women in St. John

Published 12:14 am Wednesday, May 1, 2019

RESERVE — After years of entanglement in an abusive relationship, Bridget Duhe’s life now shines with new hope.

Almost 10 months have passed since Duhe found solace in Lynne’s House, a Reserve-based halfway house devoted to mental and spiritual rehabilitation for women in dire straits.

After spending time in a shelter with nowhere to go, Duhe moved into Lynne’s House I in 2018 and transferred to the newly renovated Lynne’s House II in January.

Located in a quiet and confidential space, the surroundings make for the perfect healing space, aided by weekly counseling from overseers, job seeking services and ministry with LifeHouse Church’s Celebrate Recovery Group.

“It gives you hope that you don’t have to stay in that situation,” Duhe said. “You can break away and have a better life. Everybody has opened their hearts up. Whatever you need, they are only a phone call away.”

Four women have made Lynne’s House their temporary home since former LifeHouse Church Pastor Rod Aguillard opened its doors in July 2018.

Aguillard’s vision caught fire when his oldest daughter, Lynne Aguillard Venus, unexpectedly took her own life after a decades-long battle with bipolar disorder and depression.

Lynne’s House is named after Lynne Aguillard Venus, pictured above, who took her own life after battling bipolar disorder and depression for many years.

“We’re just excited,” Aguillard said. “We’re rejoicing over recovering. My daughter’s memory still lives on as we recover ladies. Her life didn’t get recovered, but others are being recovered because of her.”

A framed photograph of Lynne sits on the countertop at Lynne’s House and greets women battling their own demons in mental illness, divorce, domestic abuse or release from incarceration.

A $20,000 gift from Network of Related Pastors helped Aguillard purchase 4.6 acres of land in St. John the Baptist Parish and completely renovate two-bedroom and four-bedroom mobile homes.

One of the homes is moving within a month so both can be located on the same land to house up to seven ladies and one child at a time.

Aguillard plans to construct a house on the property when the land is paid off.

A new partnership with the St. John the Baptist Parish Sheriff’s Office promises to extend Lynne’s House as an option to those in need in St. John Parish and, eventually, the tri-parish area.

Organizers will soon meet with six eligible incarcerated women to determine whether the program accommodates their needs.

Sheriff Mike Tregre said Lynne’s House also serves as a resource for officers investigating domestic violence cases, giving victims the option of a safe space.

“There has never been an organization for deputies to provide assistance for victims immediately in St. John Parish,” Tregre said. “It is a terrible feeling for law enforcement to leave a victim of domestic violence, and basically the only thing we could tell them is to go get a restraining order. Hopefully this program will be successful.”

As an active resident of Lynne’s House, Duhe has completed her 12-step program and obtained employment through connections at the church. She’s planning the next steps of her life, prepared to leave Lynne’s House in a better condition than she arrived.

“I’m doing amazing,” Duhe said. “Look at where I was and where I am. It’s A to Z. I’ve restored relationships with my children and my grandchildren, and it’s just amazing. I’ve never felt so close to God.”

Overseer Melanie Passman has known Duhe for 28 years and has never seen her so hopeful.

Passman remembers Lynne fondly, and she recalls the shock at her passing, when everyone seemingly missed the warning signs of suicide.

The faith-based nature of the program may turn some away, but Aguillard sees value in reaching and rescuing at least one woman who could later share her experience with others.

While rehabilitation is expected to take six to eight months, Aguillard said Lynne’s House is available for longer stays when needed.

“If they need more time, we’ve got room to do that now,” Aguillard said.

In order to benefit from Lynne’s House, applicants must be fully detoxed from drug use and have a vehicle that can be used to search for jobs.

Call 985-536-3971 for more information.